“Southern Drinkways” was the theme of this year’s Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium at Ole Miss. Bourbon, Coca-cola and iced tea were the clichés--the unexpected discovery was Cruze Farm Churned Buttermilk. We saw a short film by Joe York about Cruze Farm owner Earl Cruze on Friday night. The next morning, we got a pint of his buttermilk and some corncakes with cracklins and sorghum syrup for breakfast. Earl swears that buttermilk is better than Viagra, but more of the symposium attendees I met sought its benefits as a hangover cure.
Cruze Farms in Tennessee is one of a number of Southern dairies that’s gone back to making old-fashioned buttermilk. Earl Cruze uses creamy whole milk and churns it hard until little bits of butter form. It’s got a richer and creamier flavor than the cultured stuff. Once upon a time, buttermilk was beloved in the South, mainly because it kept better than sweet milk. It’s still favored for making biscuits, baking cakes and dipping chicken in before frying, but not so many people drink it anymore.
Consumption of buttermilk has fallen off by 60 percent in the last 25 years. But in a recent article in the Atlanta Constitution Journal, John T. Edge interviews dairy farmers who are hoping that buttermilk will soon take off the same way another once-obscure dairy product did. It wasn’t that long ago that yogurt was considered a weird ethnic food, the Southern dairymen point out. They are banking on a buttermilk comeback. I drink mine the way my grandfather did, with a little salt and pepper sprinkled on top.
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Anybody heard of a Texas dairy making premium buttermilk? – Robb Walsh