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Buttermilk Powder


In the process of making butter, pasteurized cream (an oil-in-water emulsion) is churned to produce butter (a water in oil emulsion). While butter contains about 20% water, the remaining aqueous material released by the churning of cream is termed buttermilk. This buttermilk is a solution of residual fat, protein, lactose and minerals in water. Buttermilk in its liquid form can be used as a food ingredient but, for stability and convenience it is usually dried. Drying to produce buttermilk powder follows essentially the same process as the production of skim milk powder from skim milk. The buttermilk is first pasteurized, then concentrated with an evaporator and finally dried (spray or roller dried) to produce buttermilk powder. Buttermilk powder is low in fat and provides an excellent source of protein. It is also a source of calcium, phosphorous, riboflavin and vitamin B12.

Buttermilk powder is a cream coloured powder with a clean, dairy flavour. The solubility of spray dried buttermilk powder is excellent, while the solubility of the roller dried product is not quite as good. The protein composition of buttermilk powder is essentially the same as skim milk powder with the addition of some protein material originating on the fat globule surface. The fat content of buttermilk powder is somewhat higher than that of skim milk powder as some small fat droplets are lost to the buttermilk during butter making. The shelf life of buttermilk powder is 6-9 months and is limited by the potential oxidation of the fat in the powder, which produces an off flavour. Oxidation can be discouraged by maintaining a low moisture content and avoiding exposure of the powder to elements that promote oxidation including light and metals such as copper and iron.


Typical Composition of Buttermilk Powder












Lipid Profile of Buttermilk Powder
(g/100g of powder)

Saturated fatty acids


Monounsaturated     fatty acids


fatty acids






Vitamins and Minerals (mg/100g)





















Vitamin A








Vitamin B6




Vitamin B12


Pantothenic Acid


Vitamin C


Vitamin E


Application Based on End Use
  • Buttermilk powder can be incorporated into baked goods to provide desirable flavour, help incorporate air into the product, aid in the development of browning as the product is baked and preserve freshness by binding water.
  • Buttermilk powder can be included in ice cream to function as a source of milk solids non-fat and supply compounds that aid in the initial stabilization of the oil-water interface in the mix (proteins, phospholipids) and the air-water interface as the mix is whipped and frozen (proteins).
  • Buttermilk powder can be incorporated into dry mixes such as pancake, waffle or biscuit mixes.
  • Buttermilk powder is an excellent addition to puddings, sauces and certain beverages where it functions to absorb water and increase the product viscosity.
  • Buttermilk powder can be a component in a breading or batter, helping provide desirable brownness upon heating.
  • Buttermilk powder can be included in the coating for snack foods designed to have dairy flavours (e.g. sour cream and onion)
  • Buttermilk powder can be used to provide flavour and possibly beneficial emulsifying ability in chocolates.
  • Buttermilk powder can be used in processed cheese slices and spreads to add viscosity and contribute to the structure of the product.

Functional Properties


Proteins in buttermilk powder can react with lactose and other reducing sugars to develop a brown colour when a product is heated.


Proteins in buttermilk powder have both polar and non-polar regions and are able to function as emulsifiers, stabilizing oil-water interfaces in emulsified products such as sauces and dressings.


Milk proteins are also able to stabilize the air-water interface and promote foam formation and stability in products such as baked goods.

 Water binding

Milk proteins can bind water and in doing so, increase the viscosity of products such as puddings.


Buttermilk powder can enhance the dairy flavour of products.


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