All That Glitters Is Not Buttermilk: Radical Differences Between Brands

ORDER BOOK HERE (Also available on Amazon.)

For buttermilk health benefits, hey, Google that. It’s good stuff. However, brand differences are beyond radical, glitter or no glitter. Not long ago, I decided buttermilk needed to be added to my current diet, big time. What I did not expect was the surprise finding that of the two readily available brands here in Deer Lodge, Montana, one would turn out to be utterly awesome while the other wasn’t even palatable, let alone healthy according to our standards.

First purchase: Safeway’s Lucerne brand. Finding: Yuch! Neither Pam nor I could tolerate the stuff, and both of us love buttermilk.

What did we not like about it? Let me count the ways:

1. First of all, it’s 1% lowfat buttermilk. The very last thing we need is icky “starved” milk of any sort. Give us some 3.5% at the very least!

2. Aroma was a turnoff. It smelled kind of weak and not at all friendly.

3. Taste was repulsive. All of these first three aspects are utterly subjective. We realize that. But to us, no way. Starvation, or close to it, would be preferable.

4. Ingredient list for Lucerne is scary. Nine ingredients, some of them anathema to me. Modified food starch (a sneaky name for MSG), locust bean gum (gum in milk?), salt (in the middle of the list), carrageenan (see quotation below), and other additives.

From the website comes the following mention of carrageenan dangers:

“… More worrisome, undegraded carrageenan – the type that is widely used in foods – has been associated with malignancies and other stomach problems…..”

All in all, Lucerne buttermilk gets a One Star Rating. The one jug we bought? After checking it out and barely taste testing the product, we poured most of it down the drain and threw the container in the trash.

Lucerne 1% buttermilk, a Safeway product.

The scary Lucerne buttermilk ingredient list.

Okay, so how does Darigold Bulgarian Style buttermilk compare to the dreaded Lucerne version? That was the question. Fortunately, I’d picked up two cute quarts of Darigold at Valley Foods, in large part because it was not lowfat. The full comparison came later, at home, with happy results:

1. Yay, full 3.5% buttermilk, none of this lowfat stuff!

2. Great aroma. One sniff and we were ready to drink it down.

3. Taste is even better. I’m currently consuming a sizeable mug of Darigold buttermilk at least twice a day, usually with meals, and my body is begging for more.

4. While not “perfect,” Darigold’s ingredient list for buttermilk is far more user friendly than Lucerne’s, using just three ingredients: Cultured milk, sodium citrate, and salt.

Okay, about those two. Salt is listed last, meaning that in Darigold’s product, it’s the smallest amount. (Lucerne, remember, lists salt in the middle of its nine-ingredient pack.) This is important to me. I’ve “outlawed” all products containing salt, not because I don’t use lots of salt but because I prefer to add my own Red Utah Jurassic Salt which is not likely to contain microplastics. I have no idea where Darigold gets its salt, but the health benefits of buttermilk are so crucial that I’ve made this one exception, and salt being listed last is a good thing.

That leaves sodium citrate, which is in a lot of store bought products, but about which I knew nothing. Internet searching led me to and an article approved by Dr. Becky Maes which states in part,

“…As a food additive, sodium citrate is not bad for you – as such small amounts are used. When used as a medicine, more caution should be taken. It can interact with various medications and can harm those with certain pre-existing conditions, such as hyperkalemia….”

Bottom line, Darigold Bulgarian Style buttermilk gets a Five Star Rating. If an even better product shows itself in the future, I’ll certainly consider switching, but for now Darigold will do just fine.

Darigold 3.5% Bulgarian Style buttermilk comes in downright darling quart containers.

Brief and to the point: The three ingredients in Darigold Bulgarian Style buttermilk.