I would like to try culturing fresh buttermilk that I get from whipping butter. I would like to ask if storebought "cultured buttermilk" is done exactly like homemade yogurt, but with fresh buttermilk?

Thus, would the methodology be as follows?

(1) heat buttermilk to simmering (2) cool down to 110 F (3) add live yogurt culture (4) incubate at the proper temperature

Thanks for any insights or those who have attempted this before.

2 Answers 2


You seem to have gotten the process backwards. You don't culture the buttermilk. You culture the milk, then whip the butter, and the rest is cultured buttermilk, at least if you are going for traditional buttermilk. If you want modern buttermilk, you don't whip anything, just culture the whole milk and consume the result.

The original method would include "self culturing", so you just leave your freshly milked milk at room temperature until it is done (soured). This is not considered acceptable by modern safety standards, even if you have your own cow. If you are starting with milk you bought somewhere, it is not even likely to work. So your best bet to get buttermilk culture is either a package of storebought buttermilk with live cultures, or to look if some specialty store sells the culture itself, possibly online.

I cannot comment on the perfect temperature/time conditions for buttermilk, they are also likely to differ between strains just like they differ between yogurt strains. Maybe somebody else can post the usual ones in another answer.


In addition to rumtscho's excellent answer, I thought I would add some information about culturing buttermilk from milk to make "cultured buttermilk".

Buttermilk culture is its own distinct bacterial culture, and is different from yogurt culture. The easiest way to get it is from other cultured buttermilk. It's also cultured differently. Notably, milk for buttermilk is barely heated at all, and is cultured at room temperature, whereas yogurt is heated and cultured hot:

  • Buttermilk: heat milk to 86F and then culture at 72F for 12-24 hours
  • Yogurt: heat milk to 116F, and then culture at 110F for 6-12 hours

You could probably make a buttermilky sort of thing using yogurt culture, but really you'd be making drinking yogurt and not buttermilk.


  • Thank you, I will check on your sources. In truth I have never seen cultured buttermilk where I am since it's just not part of our cuisine. Is it thicker than fresh buttermilk and really sour?
    – wearashirt
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 4:05
  • Yes. Think of something between real buttermilk, and yogurt.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 1:04
  • In the USA, it's pretty hard to find real buttermilk in stores, it's pretty much all the cultured stuff.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 1:04
  • It's like, which came first -- the cultured buttermilk, or recipes calling for buttermilk as a leavener with baking soda. I've succesfully used regular fresh buttermilk (from whipping butter) in some yeasted pastry recipes.
    – wearashirt
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 5:25
  • It's a long and complicated history: slate.com/articles/life/food/2012/05/…
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 5:42

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