Buttermilk – Lactose Free

Lactose Free “Buttermilk”?

As a lifelong baker and recipe developer I cannot even calculate the numbers of times that I have used buttermilk in a recipe. From pancakes to muffins, cakes to soups, dips and dressings, its tangy flavor and rich dairy texture adds something that regular milk cannot.

closeup lactose free buttermilk 2

Sweet Milk? You Mean Sweetened?

When we drink regular cow’s milk – lactose-free now that we are FODMAPing – we are drinking “plain” milk, that is, milk that is not sweetened. In decades past traditional whole milk was referred to as “sweet milk” to distinguish it from milk that had gone bad or ‘soured”.

Buttermilk and “soured milk” are not the same thing, although they share a certain level of acidity in common. It is this acidity that lends a particular quality to recipes.

making lactose free buttermilk

What is Buttermilk?

When butter is churned from fresh, sweet milk a liquid separates out from the butter solids and that is buttermilk – hence its name. When refrigeration was scarce, the buttermilk would be allowed to sit and natural cultures from the surrounding air would become incorporated and the buttermilk would further thicken and develop its signature tang and texture. The process is not unlike when a natural ferment happens during bread making, when the sponge or starter takes on yeasts from the air.

Because of its thicker-than-milk texture and its acidic, tangy flavor buttermilk is more akin to yogurt than regular milk in the way it interacts with other ingredients in cooking and baking. Baking recipes that use buttermilk will always incorporate baking soda and together they create the air pockets needed to leaven the final product.

Today commercially prepared buttermilk is created with added cultures in a controlled environment. In U.S. supermarkets you can typically find low fat and fat free versions. You can occasionally find full fat, especially at specialty or farmer’s markets. You can also check directly with local dairies.

Buttermilk is Not Lactose-Free, But…

Sad but true, as of this writing there are no commercially available lactose-free buttermilks here in the U.S. Buttermilk, however, is lower in lactose than regular milk, so if you have gone through the Challenge Phase and have found that you digest some amount of lactose fairly well, it might be worth a try.

For those who would prefer to have a lactose-free option, we offer an alternative. Now, I would not suggest drinking our version, but it does work very well in baked goods and cooking. It is more of a “sour milk” than a true buttermilk, but recipes that call for buttermilk are expecting a certain level of acidity and our stand-in will work just fine in those instances.

How to Store

We make our lactose-free “buttermilk” to order. It only takes a few minutes, we make what we need, then use immediately in our recipe and recommend that you do the same.

Click on over to our Lactose-Free “Buttermilk” Recipe and get cooking!