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Keep Powdered Buttermilk in Your Pantry


Buttermilk is an essential ingredient in my household. It goes into the tender biscuits I love to make on the weekends. For dinner, I spike it with hot sauce and marinate chicken until the meat is perfectly tender and the skin crackles under the heat of the oven (a move inspired by Samin Nosrat). It is, obviously, a key component in ranch dressing, an objectively perfect condiment, and makes cakes delightfully moist.

Many cooks I know don’t bother with buttermilk, though. Usually you only need a small amount for, say, a cake recipe, and if you don’t regularly make biscuits, you’ll probably end up tossing the rest of the container out. To be sure, there are plenty of uses for leftover buttermilk, but they all require additional planning and time. It’s also easy enough to add a little acid, usually vinegar or lemon juice, to regular milk to mimic the ingredient in a recipe. But the taste just isn’t quite the same — the real cultured dairy has its own specific flavor, and this hack always ends up tasting a little too sour for my own tastes.

Enter the Saco Pantry’s powdered cultured buttermilk, which lasts forever on the shelf. For times when I’m craving biscuits and don’t want to go to the grocery store, the can in my pantry is there to save the day. The brand is one of many on the market, including a great (if pricier) option from King Arthur Flour. The Saco powder looks a whole lot like regular dry milk, and when added to a cup of water, produces a liquid that looks, smells, and performs almost exactly like the fresh stuff. It works just fine in ranch dressing, but really excels in baking, producing a perfect tender crumb in my banana bread every single time. As a bonus, one can of buttermilk powder is equivalent to nearly four quarts of liquid buttermilk, making it an economical choice in this era of ridiculous grocery prices.

The real opportunity of buttermilk powder, though, is experimentation. You can toss a spoonful into pretty much anything, from dairy-based sauces to pancakes to marinades, for a little extra tang. This hack for making creme fraiche at home with just a little powdered buttermilk and heavy cream totally blew my mind. Now, I can have creme fraiche on demand without having to leave my home.

And sure, I still prefer the taste and texture of fresh buttermilk. I try to keep it in my fridge, but for those moments when I’ve failed to grab a carton at the grocery store, the powdered version is the rare substitute that doesn’t end up tasting like a short-cut.

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