I've recently home- made butter.
Starting from 500g of cream I've obtained, let's say, 250g of butter and 250g of buttermilk.

The fairly big amount of by-product/scrap, the buttermilk, due to:

  • half of the initial cream mass
  • the high cost of cream
  • (at least in Italy) it is a ingredient used in really few recipes

This, let me think on how dairy industry deals with it, because I do not see many uses of buttermilk so:

  1. Does dairy industry produce buttermilk in that way?
  2. Are there any other uses for buttermilk?
  3. Is buttermilk converted into other food?

EDIT: First, mine it is a pure curiosity. I do not need to use buttermilk anywhere or in any recipe.
Second, here in Italy, buttermilk is a very rare product: I've never neither seen my mother or my grandmother using buttermilk in recipes for e.g. cakes nor listed as ingredient in industrial cakes or other desserts; furthermore, I've never used it as beverage. Even tough, Google returns some recipes with buttermilk.

  • There are lots of tasty recipes that use buttermilk available if you do a basic search for them. They're about the only thing that can answer your question (because "other uses" and "converted into other food" are both just convoluted requests for recipes, which are off-topic here). But in short, you can't make butter without making buttermilk, which has plenty of uses. Enjoy trying them out!
    – Allison C
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 17:13
  • 3
    Asking if other foods are made from something is surely, at face value, a request for information not recipes?
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 18:02
  • 2
    I see this as an interesting question and something I'm curious about myself, not some weird way to ask what @mattia.B89 can do with it.
    – GdD
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 8:40
  • 4
    @AllisonC there's a difference between cultured buttermilk (what most recipes expect) and this sort of buttermilk, and a straight swap may not work as expected.
    – Erica
    Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 10:00
  • 1
    I imagine that most such buttermilk is fed to animals, as is the remaining whey from cheese production. Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


If it's made from 'sweet cream', and not soured milk (it's easier to churn soured milk, so this was typical in the old days), then what's left is skim milk ... although there might be an extra buttery taste to it.

Some of it's used to make powdered milk; I don't know if any is actually resold as skim milk. It's possible that cultures are added to make 'buttermilk'. And you might think 'there'd be way too much milk powder left over vs. the amount of butter made' ... but it's used in protein powders for body builders and infant formula.

... and it can be used for animal feed. (and it's safer than other milk by-products, as it won't cause as much indigestion as the whey left over from cheese making (salty), or drained from greek yogurt (acidic).

Update: I was basing my answer on something that I saw years ago (How It's Made, Unwrapped, some other similar TV show), and some knowledge of uses of powdered milk. However, in doing some additional research:

  • Skim milk is separated off before the butter making process. It's done by centrifuge, so the input to the butter making process is higher fat content (and lower moisture) than what a home butter-maker would be working with.

  • Protein powders are typically made from whey powder, not non-fat milk powder

  • Much powdered milk gets shipped to developing countries, as it's cheaper to ship and store. (less weight and volume, and doesn't need refrigeration) ... but much of that is full-fat powdered milk

  • Non-fat milk powder is used in a lot of baker products and processed foods, as it can serve as a thickener, increases protein content, and promotes browning of baked goods. (and it can be lower cost, due to reduced shipping and storage costs) So when you see 'milk' on an ingredient list, it might actually be powdered milk.

So, there's probably not as much left over as we'd expect based solely on knowledge of home butter churning and the amount of butter production. And I was off on where all of the non-fat powdered milk gets used.

  • 1
    I upvote and attach that in Emilia region, birthplace of Parmigiano cheese, butter is made from by-product of Parmigiano, then buttermilk goes to pigs or filtered for protein powder
    – mattia.b89
    Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 22:06

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