How To Tell If Buttermilk Is Bad? [Smell Test]

Buttermilk is a delicious, creamy dairy product that can add a touch of richness to any dish.

It has a sour taste and is often used in baking, as well as in smoothies, sauces, and dressings. Buttermilk can go bad, and it is essential to know how to tell if buttermilk is bad.

There are a few things to look for, including the smell, the taste, and the expiration date.

When buttermilk goes bad, it will have a sour smell. It may also have a chunky consistency, discoloration, mold growth, or appear to be separating.  If you are not sure if the buttermilk is bad, you can taste it. If it tastes sour or off, it is best to throw it out. However, if the buttermilk does not taste bad, it should be safe to use.

To learn more about how to tell if buttermilk is bad, how to know if it’s bad and how long it will last, keep reading as we dive into these topics and more. 

How To Tell If Buttermilk Has Gone Bad

Assuming you checked the expiration date is still good, check if the buttermilk has a strong sour odor. The second test is the color: good buttermilk is white or off-white, while bad buttermilk may have a yellowish tint. 

Finally, the texture: fresh buttermilk is smooth and thick, while bad buttermilk will be watery and lumpy. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the buttermilk and buy a fresh batch. 

Is Buttermilk Supposed to Smell Sour?

Generally speaking, fresh buttermilk should have a slightly sour smell, while bad buttermilk will have a strong sour odor. 

Buttermilk that has gone bad will have a sour smell. Even though buttermilk has a slightly sour smell when fresh, the bad smell will be more pronounced. 

You may also notice that the buttermilk looks lumpy or has large chunks in it. This is normal for buttermilk that has gone bad.

Is Buttermilk Bad if it Looks Separated?

If your buttermilk has separated, this is normal! Just give the milk a good stir before using it.

However, if the milk smells bad or has chunks, it has gone bad and should not be consumed.

Is Buttermilk Supposed To Be Chunky?

No, buttermilk is not supposed to be chunky. If your buttermilk is chunky, this is a sign that it has gone bad and should not be consumed. 

It is similar to regular milk in this respect. Large clumps and chunks are a sign of rancid buttermilk. It should be easy to pour with only very small clumps, if any.

Shelf Life Of Buttermilk

Buttermilk is generally pretty shelf-stable, so if your milk is only a little off, you can try using it in baking or cooking, where the acidity can help tenderize meat or add flavor to a dish.

However, buttermilk is generally pretty shelf-stable, so if your milk is only a little off, you can try using it in baking or cooking, where the acidity can help tenderize meat or add flavor to a dish.

Glass of Buttermilk

How Long Is Buttermilk Good For After Opening?

Once it is opened, buttermilk should be used within a week or two at the most if properly stored (Source).

Buttermilk should be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge when not in use. 

If the buttermilk has been stored correctly, you can use it no more than a week after the sell-by date. This is assuming there is no visible mold or strong sour smell.  

Can You Use Expired Buttermilk?

While the buttermilk may still be safe to drink after the expiration date, it is probably not of its best quality. 

The flavor of the buttermilk may be off, and it may have a very strong sour smell. Also, keep an eye out for mold and discoloration, as this means it is unsafe to use.

Expiration dates on food products are required by federal law. So manufacturers include expiration dates on buttermilk and other products just to meet regulations and not necessary to attest to the longevity of the product.  

Just because your buttermilk has expired, it doesn’t mean you need to toss it right away.

Using Expired Buttermilk When Baking

If you are baking, expired buttermilk can be safe to use if it isn’t too thick to pour or growing mold. Expired buttermilk is commonly used in pies, cakes, and other baked goods.

The expired buttermilk can also be added to mashed potatoes, used as a base for soup, or even used as a marinade for meat. 

What Happens If You Drink Spoiled Buttermilk?

Drinking spoiled buttermilk can cause nausea and vomiting. The milk contains harmful bacteria that can make you very sick.

Drinking Milk

The lactic acid is used in making the milk, and it will continue to sour the milk the longer you have it. While a sip won’t kill you, those with sensitive stomachs should avoid drinking any buttermilk that smells or looks slightly off. 

How To Tell If Homemade Buttermilk Is Bad

Homemade buttermilk will last about two days in the fridge. You should store it in an airtight container to prevent air from passing through it and germs from growing.

Does Powdered Buttermilk Go Bad?

Powdered buttermilk will have a bad smell or a yellowish tint when it should be discarded. 

Buttermilk powder does not have to be kept in a refrigerator since it has been evaporated.

If stored in the container, it was originally sold in and kept in a cool, dry place; it will last for three to five years.

Can Cultured Buttermilk Spoil?

Cultured buttermilk is milk that has been treated with live bacteria to give it a sour flavor. It should be kept refrigerated and used within two weeks of opening.

You can tell if cultured buttermilk has gone bad if it smells sour or contains chunks. If you notice either of these signs, do not drink the milk and throw it away immediately.

Properly Storing Buttermilk

You can store buttermilk in the fridge, freezer, or pantry ( powdered). Each location has different steps, so let’s take a look.

Storing Buttermilk in the Refrigerator

  1. Check the expiration date. When you transfer it to a container, you should write this on the side with a sharpie, so you don’t forget. 
  2. Pour the milk into an airtight container. Glass is best so you can see if there are any changes in color or consistency. 
  3. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks. After this time, it’s best to toss it out. 

Freezing Buttermilk

  1. Pour the milk into an ice cube tray. 
  2. Once frozen, you can then transfer the cubes into a freezer bag. This will help you thaw only as much buttermilk as you need without wasting any. 
  3. Remove the cubes from the freezer and place them in a bowl or glass of warm water for about five minutes. 

Storing Powdered Buttermilk

  1. Powdered buttermilk can be stored in the pantry for five years in the original container out of light and heat. 
  2. When you are ready to use it, mix it with an equal amount of water. 
  3. After mixing it with water, make sure you store it in the fridge and use it within one week.

What To Do With Expired Buttermilk

You can use expired buttermilk in baking if it is not moldy or chunky.  When baking with expired buttermilk, use a recipe that calls for an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice.

This will help to neutralize the bad bacteria in the milk. If your recipe does not call for an acidic ingredient, you can add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of buttermilk.

Be sure to check the expiration date on your baking powder and baking soda, as these can also affect the outcome of your baked goods.

Baked goods made with expired buttermilk may not rise or be as light and fluffy as they would if made with fresh milk.

However, they will still be safe to eat. If you are unsure whether your buttermilk is still good, it is best to err on the side of caution and use fresh milk.

This will ensure that your baked goods turn out as intended.

What Is Normal And What Is Bad

Normal buttermilk should have a sour smell and taste. It should also be easy to pour with only tiny clumps if any.

If your buttermilk is chunky, has a bad smell, or is difficult to pour, it has gone bad and should not be consumed.

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