Buttermilk is a staple ingredient in my kitchen, so I always have it on hand. It lends a great flavor to baked goods without adding a lot of extra fat, and since it is slightly acidic, it also acts as a tenderizer that helps produce a soft crumb in breads and cakes. But if you don’t do a lot of baking, you may not keep buttermilk in your refrigerator all the time because it might go bad before you have a chance to use it up. I think that an open container of buttermilk is a great excuse to make Buttermilk Pancakes for breakfast or whip up a quick and easy Buttermilk Banana Pound Cake, but it can be much easier to have a product like buttermilk powder in your kitchen instead of fresh buttermilk so that you don’t need to worry about spoilage.
Buttermilk powder is made by combing churned buttermilk with whey or skim milk and drying it at a low temperature until it has a powdery consistency. It is different from store-bought buttermilk because the cartons sold in most grocery stores are made by adding cultures to skim milk to thicken it and give it that distinctive buttermilk tang, while dried buttermilk typically starts with churned buttermilk, which is the fluid remaining after cream has been churned into butter. Despite this difference, powdered buttermilk has the same tangy buttermilk flavor as fresh buttermilk when used in recipes like pancakes, biscuits and cakes. Powdered buttermilk is meant to be used as a dry ingredient most of the time. This means that you’ll see it included with the flour mixture in a recipe for pancakes or bread, or with the coating mixture in a recipe for fried chicken or pork chops. It can be reconstituted into a liquid form by combining it with water, but it is not a substitute for liquid buttermilk if you simply want to drink it, as it will not have the same consistency as the refrigerated product.