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Apr 15, 2007 04:27 PM

Buttermilk freshness

How long does off the shelf buttermilk stay fresh? I have a quart that says sell by 4/02. How do I tell - I mean it's supposed to be sour anyway, right?

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  1. The way I look at it: buttermilk is no longer a by product of making butter. Rather it is cultured by adding beneficial bacteria to milk. That good bacteria does not make it impervious to spoilage by bad bacteria. It may help it to keep a bit longer but eventually, the bad bacteria will get in and take over, just like in regular milk. You can drink regular milk that is slightly spoiled, or soured, but do you want to keep drinking it when it is growing clumps of mold?

    RE shelf life of milks: you don't say the temp of your fridge or how long you kept your old quart out of refrigeration. Both will significantly affect shelf life. You don't say if you opened it already. If you did, then the date has no meaning. Once exposed to air it will deteriorate as usual. I gage by taste and clumpiness.

    If you did not open it, and your fridge is cold, chances are your quart was still good on 4/9. Either way, I bet if you pour your quart into a bowl, you will observe several fuzzy clumps of the buttermilk mixed with bad bacteria. If not, taste and smell and only you can decide.

    Why do you care now, since you did not use it? Make some muffins or banana bread if it looks good. Hey, you are saving a dollar or so.

    1. 1. I have had buttermilk in my fridge too long - you can tell.

      2. I wish they would sell smaller containers! If I don't want to make 14 dozen muffins or something, I would love a smaller pint container or even smaller, like for heavy ceram. Just a thought.

      4 Replies
      1. re: laurendlewis

        Leftover buttermilk freezes nicely. That's my solution.

        1. re: Pat Hammond

          Really! With standard liquid freezing techniques like in baggies or ice cube trays?

          And then do you defrost gently in microwave?
          Thanks - buttermilk baked goods forever more now!

          1. re: laurendlewis

            Sure, it'll be fine. Baggies. ice cube trays, or tupperware-type containers all work fine. Not great for drinking but fine for cooking. I freeze regular milk all the time and it is delicious for drinking after thawing. I almost always have a spare quart of milk in the freezer.

        2. re: laurendlewis

          There are maybe three things that I truly miss about Nashville, and being able to buy pints of buttermilk is one of them! Thanks to the other posters who've told us that you can freeze it.

        3. I'm a buttermilk lover and have had it up to 2 weeks after the date and it was still good.

          1. I used to have the same problem of only needing a small amount of the liquid buttermilk. Then I read about the dried buttermilk (in the baking aisle of the grocery stores)- it works great! Mix the dried bmilk with your dry ingredients & add water when you are to add the liquid bmilk. Keep the container in your fridge & it will last for months. In the recipes I make (muffins, pancakes, biscuits, cakes), I can not taste a difference.

            1. I keep running out of buttermilk because I use so much of it. A cup of buttermilk mixed with 2T wondra is my basic gravy base. It's a nice tasty way to stretch pan drippings. Gives a sour cream flavor without the calories.