Does Buttermilk Smell Sour? The Truth Will Be Revealed Here

Buttermilk is widely used in our daily life. It can be drunk straightly or can be used as an ingredient in cooking, contributing to many dishes, from fry foods to salads and smoothies. When talking about “buttermilk”, many people immediately think about its unique taste that is like the combination of butter and milk. However, in reality, its flavor is not close to such. So, does buttermilk smell sour? If you want to know the answer, our post can help you.


What is Buttermilk?

As mentioned earlier, it’s not the combination of milk and butter. The traditional buttermilk was known as the leftover liquid from the butter’s production. In order to create it, people usually place it in a separator to separate the cream from the remaining milk liquid. That cream is put into a churner to spin until the buttermilk is drained and separated from the butter.

How To Tell Does Buttermilk Smell Sour Or Not?

In general, today buttermilk has a sour and tangy taste, but the traditional one usually smells sour more than normal. This sour smell is created by the bacteria. During the process of separating cream from milk, the traditional buttermilk is fermented naturally by the lactic acid which is a form of self-producing bacteria in milk.

However, the process of producing buttermilk that you buy at stores isn’t the same as the production of the traditional one because it doesn’t involve butter. In fact, it’s made by adding non-harmful bacteria (lactobacillus, streptococcus lactic, leuconostoc citrovorum) and some thickening agents or additives (mono, diglycerides, carrageenan, food starch) to the milk.

The bacteria will ferment the lactose which is a primary sugar in milk. The lactic acid is created as a result. It reduces the pH of the milk and precipitates the casein which is a main milk protein. The acidity makes up the tartness of the buttermilk while the precipitated protein thickens the milk, essentially curdling it.

In addition, the acidic environment helps to prevent the potentially harmful microorganisms from growing and increase the shelf life for the buttermilk.

How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

The buttermilk’s shelf life is influenced by a variety of factors including the processing method, the exposure to heat and light, the carton date and the way we store it. Because the bacteria in buttermilk creates lactic acid, so when the time passes, it continues to ferment the milk and makes the milk more acidic. It can last for one to two weeks beyond the date printed on the carton.

The best way to preserve the sour smell and prolong the shelf life is put it in a fridge immediately after used. When freezing buttermilk, it can destabilize the structure and may cause the formation of small clumps. Therefore, it’s still safe to consume after freezing so that the product becomes less desirable to eat.

How to Make Homemade Buttermilk?

1. What You Need:

  • Milk
  • Lemon jucice or vinegar
  • A bowl

2. Directions


They are milk and vinegar or lemon juice. You only need to combine them in a bowl then stir it. Next, let this mixture stand at normal temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.


Try it and you will know exactly how sour buttermilk is. You can also combine yogurt with water, sour cream with water or kefir with water to create buttermilk replacement although these substitutes are not as thick as real buttermilk.

After that, the milk is slightly thickened. When the mixture appears small curdled pieces and becomes acidic, it’s ready to use as a substitute for buttermilk in your recipes. 

This following video can show you more clearly about the process to make homemade buttermilk​


Buttermilk contains vitamin B and vitamin D, so it helps us to overcome the anemia and weakness caused by vitamin insufficiency and strengthen our immune system. Moreover, it has lots of advantages such as encouraging digestion, providing calcium without the fat, decreasing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, etc. Therefore, we should often use it to improve our health.
This post has provided you useful information about buttermilk and the best answer to the question “Does buttermilk smell sour?” If you have never tried it before, let’s buy and drink it immediately or combine it with other ingredients. You can also make its substitute at home if you don’t want to buy it at the store. 

By the way, my blog has already answered ​a dozen of popular questions that you might care. Let try it here: Other Useful Tips. Enjoy 🙂

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: