The Humble Buttermilk

The Humble Buttermilk

We’re all familiar with the world of bacteria(s) and every time we get sick we draw a mental picture of our body cells fighting against bacteria. But not all bacteria are violent, in fact, we can't do without some of them. Probiotics are bacteria(s) that camp in our gut and help digest the food we eat. Digestive disorders that constitute symptoms of diarrhea, remove or destroy probiotics from our body - thereby hampering the digestion process. Many fermented foods such as Kiefer, sauerkarut, kimchi, pickles are rich in probiotics, but today we will be focusing on the humble buttermilk.

Buttermilk or ‘chaas’ a famous summer refreshment in India is a rich source of probiotics. Buttermilk, the residual liquid remaining after churning butter (when subjected to fermentation) houses probiotics which help replenish the digestive tract. The original buttermilk or grandma’s probiotic contains more probiotics than the commercially cultured one. So here are two ways to enjoy it: the long way (involves a day of waiting) and the easy way.

The long way

What you need:

  • ¾ cup of fresh buttermilk
  • 3 cups of milk
  • A clean and dry jar

How to make cultured buttermilk

  1. Add the buttermilk into the jar followed by 3 cups of milk.
  2. Close the jar and mix it well by shaking
  3. Allow the milk to ferment by keeping the jar at room temperature preferably 70-77° F (21-25° C) for ‘24’ hours.
  4. Refrigerate the thickened milk or use it immediately as a refreshment.
  5. Repeat the process when you have at least ¾ cup of buttermilk leftover.

Although this is a long process and a small quantity of buttermilk is required to make it, it’s the best way to make buttermilk with all the probiotic goodness; the long fermentation time allows the probiotics to multiply.

Spice it up

You can spice up the cultured buttermilk with cumin seeds, ginger, coriander, mint or curry leaves as they all contain active ingredients that increase the secretion of digestive juices which aid in digestion and also help soothe post-meal disturbances.


The easy way

What you need:

  • 2 cups of plain curd
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ cup on mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup of coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 and ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds

How to make spiced buttermilk

  1. Blend the curd and spices together.
  2. Add two cups of water (preferably chilled), mix well
  3. Add salt to taste and enjoy.

Curd or yogurt is also a good source of probiotics, so even though its not buttermilk it is a good substitute. In case you prefer your buttermilk ‘spicy’ add pepper or few chopped green chilis.

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