Do you ever have a half used carton of buttermilk and wonder what to do with it? It seems like recipes call for it, but then there are always leftovers. What is buttermilk and why is it so good for baking and our health?
Buttermilk originated as a by-product of butter churning, today’s cartons are filled with low-fat milk and active cultures. When these two combine, lactic acid is formed, which reacts with baking soda in baked goods to produce carbon dioxide. That means we have buttermilk to thank for fluffy pancakes and flaky biscuits — and it adds creaminess and tang to savory dishes as well!
It has a mildly sour taste and can be used to tenderize meat, add moisture to baked goods and to add creaminess to sauces and soups. Buttermilk is also lower in fat than regular butter or whole milk and supplies key nutrients.
Buttermilk is a good source of calcium, a cup of it supplies 282 milligrams of calcium toward your daily goal of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams. The primary role that calcium plays in your body is to support the growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. The mineral also contributes to normal muscle function, nerve transmission and hormone secretion.
Along with calcium, buttermilk also contributes to your Vitamin D daily requirements. This vitamin is critical for the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D also helps to maintain your phosphorus levels, which in turn helps with bone health.
Another great nutrient that buttermilk has is protein. Every cell in your body needs protein to function properly. Protein plays an important role in tissue health because it provides you with amino acids – the building blocks you need to keep your tissues strong. Getting enough protein also supports your immune system, protecting you from infection.
Buttermilk also contains numerous B vitamins. B2, also known as riboflavin, assists in iron absorption and works with vitamin A to protect the digestive tract and is essential for the metabolism of some amino acids.
As a fermented milk product, buttermilk is considered a probiotic food, which is a food that contains live microorganisms that provide health benefits. Eating probiotics helps populate your intestine with health-promoting bacteria, which may improve immune function and reduce diarrhea, among other potential health benefits.
This product is a great addition to your cooking as well as your health. Look for several recipes that include buttermilk in the coming weeks!