What Is Buttermilk, And How Do I Make It Using Regular Milk?

Welcome to Whatchamacallit? It's our new feature where we answer questions about food and drink that you just don't feel like asking yourself even though you kinda want to know what the hell something is.

With the southern culinary revolution upon us in the northern United States, we're seeing more and more chefs incorporate buttermilk into their cooking. But what exactly is this stuff we mostly associate with fried chicken, pancakes and dressing? Simply put, it's the liquid that is leftover after churning butter (a low-fat and high-protein substance that ferments to the point of tartness).

That's the traditional method, which some people still use. But today most commercial buttermilk is made by dairy processing plants injecting enzymes into low-fat milk. Most grocery stores carry buttermilk, but if you find yourself in a situation where buttermilk is not available, don't worry — it's easy to make: Add 1 tablespoon of either vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of low-fat milk. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and boom! Buttermilk, baby.

Here are some recipes to try incorporating your new favorite foodstuff.