Buttermilk (n.): Southern dairy royalty By Kayley Ray

As a life-long Southerner and native Tennessean, buttermilk runs in my veins. Truthfully, I can speak for myself and possibly many others when I say that a full dayâ€TMs menu could feature this beloved beverage in just about every way, shape, and form. Buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and buttermilk pie, all of which beckons to be washed down with none other than a tall glass of…you guessed it…buttermilk. While some may turn their noses to the tanginess, it is this very component that makes buttermilk so functional. The acid aids in both tenderization and leavening, resulting in the moistest fried chicken and fluffiest biscuits this side of the Mason-Dixon. In addition, the intense flavor that buttermilk exhibits serves as a beautiful contrast to sweeter flavors, such as mixed berries and honey.

As if any more convincing was necessary, buttermilk also provides many wonderful health benefits. While traditional Southern fare is far from what is deemed healthful, buttermilk itself is certainly not to blame. Contrary to what you may think, buttermilk does not contain butter. Instead, buttermilk is composed of two simple ingredients – milk and cultures. Like other types of milk, buttermilk comes in a variety of fat percentages. The cultures are able to create a unique flavor and thickness, masking any differences between fat content. By using non-fat or reduced-fat buttermilk, youâ€TMre saving fat and calories without sacrificing richness. Similar to many other cultured dairy products, buttermilk contains probiotics. Probiotics, simply put, are live microorganisms responsible for digestion and protection against harmful bacteria. Many probiotics mimic the helpful bacteria that are already present in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A healthy GI tract is linked to improved immunity, meaning that probiotics may actually help to fight off sickness (1).

With summer upon us, what better marriage of ingredients than ripe, sweet berries and our cool, creamy buttermilk? Lighter than traditional ice cream, this blackberry sherbet recipe is sure to make you reconsider traditional uses for buttermilk and instead leverage its amazing health benefits.

Blackberry Buttermilk Sherbet – adapted from Southern Living (2)

2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (or any ripe berries) 3/4 cup sugar 
2 cups reduced-fat buttermilk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process blackberries in a food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Press blackberries puree through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding solids. Add sugar, buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to bowl, and stir until well blended.

Pour blackberry mixture into freezer container of a 4-quart ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Garnish each serving with mint, fresh berries, and a drizzle of honey if desired.

Nutrition Information: Per 1/2 cup serving – 125 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 52 mg sodium 24 g total sugar, 1 g total fat

Kayley Ray is from Jefferson City, Tennessee. She graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville with a bachelorâ€TMs degree in Food Science and Technology and a bachelorâ€TMs degree in Nutrition Science. She is also a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. Kayley is currently a dietetic intern in the 2014-2015 Dietetic Internship Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and wishes to pursue a career in either diabetes or critical care.


  1. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. An introduction to probiotics. <http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics.> Accessed March 9, 2015.
  2. Southern Living Magazine. Chilinâ€TM out with frosty sherbet recipes. <http://www.southernliving.com/food/whats-for-supper/chillin-out-with-frosty-sherbets> Accessed March 9, 2015.