Do you remember a time when you could find thick, rich buttermilk — the kind that would make a spoon stand up straight and have the tang of yogurt but was just a bit thinner? If your answer is yes, there’s a good chance you are as old or older than me.
One of my fondest memories of my youth was when Dad would bring buttermilk home in a half-gallon glass container from a dairy in Twin Valley, Minn. He would pour some in a big glass and season it with a bit of salt and pepper before gulping it down. My brother, Kevin, and I soon were following in his footsteps.
These days, it’s hard, if not impossible, to find that kind of buttermilk, which probably was fermented by natural bacteria. Now, with the rise of large commercial dairies, much of the buttermilk today is made with reduced-fat milk instead of the old-fashioned way of adding active cultures to regular milk or “sweet” milk.
I learned a bit about this from reading a Chicago Tribune article by food writer Bill Daley. He quoted author Debbie Moose, whose book “Buttermilk” soon will be published by the University of North Carolina Press as part of its “Savor the South Cookbook” series. Moose said that small dairies are the likely best sources for thick buttermilk, but finding one of them and buying their products can be a challenge.
Daley did find one outlet, a company in Kalona, Iowa, selling organic buttermilk and a variety of other products under the Kalona SuperNatural label. I don’t know if it’s available around here. But I plan on doing a little research to see if it or something similar is available. And if successful, I may try it in the following recipe for buttermilk pie.
2 unbaked pie shells
2½ cups sugar
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup flour
1 pint buttermilk
2 eggs beaten
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat eggs, add sugar and flour. Stir in buttermilk and flavorings. Add melted butter. Divide evenly between two 9-inch unbaked pie shells. Bake for 45 minutes. Top should be golden brown, and center firm. Cool on wire racks before serving.
Yield: 2 9-inch pies.