Is buttermilk one of those products you pass on the shelves of your supermarket fridge and never buy it because you dont know how to use it? Pop a carton in your shopping trolley. It is good for your diet, your skin, makes perfect pancakes, and is even an old-fashioned remedy for sunburn when combined with a small amount of tomato juice.
Lets start with the sunburn remedy. Mix 2 teaspoons tomato juice and 4 tablespoons buttermilk and apply to the face. Leave for half an hour. Apply to the skin. Alternatively, you can soak slices of tomato in buttermilk and then apply them to the affected area for half an hour. If applied soon after the burn occurs, the remedy vastly reduces the likelihood of peeling.
Traditional buttermilk is the liquid left over after full cream milk is churned to produce butter. When the Irish sing, “Drinking buttermilk all the week and whisky on a Sunday”, they are lamenting the sourness of taste compared to a good, sweet whisky. Traditional buttermilk is generally thought to be a little too sour for the public palate.
Most supermarkets sell cultured buttermilk. Souring agents are added to the milk which causes a fermenting process, simulating the original product, and containing bacteria which are healthy for the digestive system. Whereas traditional buttermilk was always made from full cream milk, the modern product is usually made from skim milk and has approximately one per cent fat content. Many manufacturers now also produce buttermilk powder.
One thing the Irish also knew was that drinking buttermilk on a Monday would cure any hangovers from the whisky bout on the weekend. As the cultured product contains bacteria which can overcome harmful intestinal flora, buttermilk can also be effective in the treatment of diarrhoea.
Buttermilk is friendly to the skin and particularly good as a facial cleanser. Try this fragrant mix. In 1 cup of boiling water put 1 tablespoon of lightly crushed fennel seeds and steep for 30 minutes. Filter and add 1 teaspoon of honey and 3 teaspoons of buttermilk to the infusion. Keep cleanser in a fridge in a glass container. Use to cleanse face in the evening.
Used in many forms of baking and cooking, buttermilk has high nutritional value, providing the body with potassium, vitamin B12, calcium and riboflavin.
To treat yourself to a thoroughly healthy and indulgent breakfast you cant go past a stack of buttermilk pancakes topped with blueberries and yoghurt. They look great, taste divine and are full of a host of healthy ingredients.