At Last! REAL Buttermilk from Animal Farm!

At last…. So goes the opening line of the famous tune sung by Etta James. She may have been singing about true love, but we’re tempted to rewrite the lyrics and replace the word ‘love’ with ‘buttermilk’. That’s right, at last we’ve found a source for the real deal, honest to goodness buttermilk. And we can’t wait for you to try it!

Back in the day, real buttermilk was simply the liquid left over from making butter. The cream would be churned, the butter would be worked over and pressed, and in the course of all that manhandling (or womanhandling, I should say…), the liquid trapped inside would be squeezed out. Voila buttermilk! Unlike the buttermilk we encounter at the supermarket, which is thick and almost yogurt-esque, real buttermilk is thin to the point of drinkable, refreshing, and tangy.

Saxelby Cheesemongers’ new stash o’ buttermilk comes from Animal Farm, located in Orwell, Vermont. Diane St Clair, butter maven to some of the country’s finest restaurants, has agreed to supply us with her limited run, seasonal buttermilk for all of our winter baking needs. She makes butter the old-fashioned way, culturing the milk from her herd of 8 Jersey cows, and allowing the cream to rise naturally in order to keep all those precious fat globules intact. She then skims off the cream by hand, and dutifully churns it into rich, grassy butter. All of that protein-rich liquid pressed out of the butter is bottled and sent to Saxelby Cheesemongers, where it awaits your culinary innovation! Check out the recipe below for Diane’s personal recommendation, buttermilk waffles…

Ms. St Clair runs her farm a bit differently than most of the cheesemakers we work with. Usually, a dairy farmer will plan for calving, the season where all of the babies are born, to happen in the springtime. That way, the cows are out grazing on grass all season long, turning that green energy into milk. However, hot, humid Vermont summers are not ideal conditions for a butter maker, so Diane chose to flip that schedule around to better suit her farm’s needs. In the summertime, she makes hay, enough to feed her herd throughout the winter, and then milks and makes butter all winter long. Cows’ milk tends to be richer and fattier during the winter months anyways due to their diet of primo hay and a touch of grain, which makes for a superior product!

Buttermilk Waffles (from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 large egg, separated
7/8 cup buttermilk
2 tabs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Heat waffle iron. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bow. Whisk the egg yolk with buttermilk and melted butter.

2. Beat the egg white until it holds a peak

3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry while mixing with a rubber spatula. Towards the end of the mixing, use a folding motion to incorporate. Folk in the egg white to the batter.

4. Spread appropriate amount onto the waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve with Vermont maple syrup (makes everything more delicious!)

We’ve also got a brand-spankin’ new episode of Cutting the Curd for your to sink your teeth into. For our first episode of 2011, the ‘State of Cheese’ series chugs along to Ohio, where we talk with Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Farm. Lucky Penny is a both a farm and creamery located in Northeastern Ohio. Cheesemaker Abbe Turner turns the milk of her own goats as well as the milk of two other goat dairies into delicious cheese, all in a repurposed Labor Union hall in the city of Kent. Tune in and see what’s doing in dairy the great state of Ohio!

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