Why use buttermilk?

Want to know how to get whole wheat pancakes as light, fluffy, and airy as white pancakes?

Want to know how to get whole wheat pancakes as light, fluffy, and airy as white pancakes?

Do you love buttermilk pancakes served with real butter and drizzled with real maple syrup? Old-fashioned waffles? Grandma’s biscuits, fresh out of the oven?

Me too.

It’s a shame people these days don’t know what buttermilk is for. Why did our grandmothers and great-grandmothers add buttermilk to their quick breads?

Here’s a hint. They used buttermilk because their mothers used buttermilk. For many hundreds, if not thousands of years, generations of women ground up wheat into a whole grain flour, then soaked it in buttermilk overnight before using to make quick breads.

These days, we mix in buttermilk to our refined white flour to get that old-fashioned flavor. But we forgot how our grandmothers did it, and thus we do it all wrong.

It turns out that soaking the whole wheat flour in buttermilk not only makes the resulting bread light and fluffy (as airy as white bread), but it also makes the whole grain vastly more digestible by neutralizing the phytic acid and making all those vitamins and minerals accessible to our bodies.

So, in honor of old-fashioned whole wheat buttermilk pancakes, I am going to make buttermilk this week and share the how-to with you all. Stay tuned.


  1. says

    I love buttermilk pancakes, but I’m not ready to start grinding my own flour yet. What is the best type of pre-ground flour I can buy? What should I look for?

  2. says

    Conventional wisdom says Whole Wheat flour goes rancid in 6 months. Those who grind their own fresh flour will tell you it starts to “turn” in about a week. We say that because when it’s freshly ground, wheat flour is surprisingly sweet. It starts turning slowly bitter after a week.

    That said, I didn’t own a grain grinder until this year. I still baked my own whole grain breads, but I tried to use the best flour.

    For bread baking and guaranteed freshness, King Arthur Flour is by far the best flour available in most supermarkets. This flour, though, is not ground from sprouted grains, so you have to properly soak it (usually overnight) in something acidic (usually whey or buttermilk) to allow your body to get all the nutrients out of it.

    There are companies that sell sprouted flours, but you usually can’t find them in stores. You’ll have to buy them online. A Google search will bring up lots of handy results.

  3. says

    I have started using buttermilk more the last few years. Great for soaking chicken in before frying, as a salad dressing base, etc. My Grandma used to drink a cold glass, with salt & pepper in the summer! I’d love to hear how to saok the flour!!!

  4. sarah says

    thanks for your AWESOME site!! i miss drinking real buttermilk but unfortunately can’t tolerate casein. what would you recommend to substitute for pancakes/quickbreads, just soak in a little whey or lemon juice overnight?

    • Laurie says

      My son also could not tolerate casein until we found A2 cow milk. We found out about it after someone mentioned trying goats milk as it was a different protein than in commercial cow milk. We found out the bulk of American cows have a mutation that changed the protein causing trouble for many. Seriously, look up A2 milk. We now get our milk from a herd share of A2 cows that we pick up at the farmer’s market. It has been life-changing for my son! Along with the milk, I make fresh butter/buttermilk, ice cream, and mozzarella and ricotta cheese. It is easier than you would think and the whole family reaps the benefits of the fresh REAL food.

  5. Sharla says

    I make my own buttermilk pancakes by soaking fresh ground flour in raw buttermilk left over from making fresh raw butter. I also use the same batter to make waffles, whatever we are in the mood for. They love it! The box mix is tasteless in comparison.

  6. Alexandra says

    I have been making whole wheat buttermilk pancakes for a while now; it’s our weekly treat.. I soak them overnight and the recipe doesn’t call for baking powder, the overnight soak makes them fluffy the next day! they are wonderful; I serve them with maple syrup and Kerry gold butter( due to living in NJ real milk is illegal )


    I was so happy to see your “How to make butter”
    I used to make it every week years ago and kind of forgot. I have one of the old fashioned glass butter churns. I remembered I let it age at least 2or more weeks or trust me it will take forever or maybe not at all. Then I couldn’t find real milk unpasturized. Opps. Now I have found a source. Oh you talk about good tasting milk. I had a heck of a time getting cream off top. Did it very carefully with a ladle. Ahhh then you showed the jar with spigot. I laughed out loud. How easy. I will buy one. Also couldn’t remember when I added salt. See when you get old you forget. A neighbor told me she used cream from store and useds a mix master. Some how that doesn’t sound right good at all. Give me the real milk please. Thanks so much for your website.

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