Sometimes the failure at maintaining one cultured product leads to unexpected adventures and discoveries.  Such is the case with “The Tale of Two Buttermilks” or “How I Stumbled onto Coconut Buttermilk”. Lately I’ve been craving some cultured coconut milk. Sadly, my Milk Kefir Grains froze in my antique iced-up refrigerator and when I brought them out of hibernation, they developed mold. I tried my best to resuscitate them, but there was no hope. After mourning my grains, I decided it was time to move on; after all, there are other cultures in the world. This was quite the hankerin’ for cultured coconut milk, so I was in need of a fast, easy to use culture. The buttermilk and Sour Cream Direct-Set Starter is practically bulletproof and I have yet to have it make a less than stellar batch of sour cream. However I’ve never used it for Buttermilk and certainly not for any non-dairy products. My father was always a huge fan of buttermilk and offered it frequently when I was young, but I never accepted the hype. Its been many years since I’ve had buttermilk, my father is a wise man, and my ingredients were creeping closer towards the expiration date with no other plans in sight so I gave it a whirl. The scientist in me loves to experiment. Like any good experiment, I needed a control so that I could compare my results. I made one batch of dairy buttermilk using Pasteurized Half and Half and one batch of coconut buttermilk using coconut milk. My dairy batch set up in 12 hours, rather than the 16-18 we generally recommend. I didn’t keep a very good eye on my milk while it was gently heating. The milk was a bit too warm when I added the culture and the jar was right in front of the light in my oven, so it’s not extremely surprising that it cultured so fast. (See what I mean by bulletproof?!)Dairy buttermilk is very much like a runny mild yogurt. Once chilled, it was almost about as firm as a mesophilic yogurt. I expected the finished product to be more like direct-set kefir, but it has more of a curd and lacks any yeast flavor that is present in kefir. The coconut buttermilk needed a full 18 hours to develop enough change in flavor for my tastes. It did not change in consistency at all, even after it was chilled. After culturing for 18 hours, the coconut buttermilk reminded me of the Vegan Yogurt Starter, but more mild in flavor. Vegan Yogurt Starter was my favorite yogurt culture, but the coconut buttermilk was so easy to make, I’m not sure how often I’ll be making yogurt now! The results of this experiment have proven to be ground breaking! Not only have I determined that I do indeed like buttermilk, even though I previously did not care for it, but I also discovered that coconut buttermilk is delicious. Even further still, I have concluded that it is possible to love both dairy and coconut buttermilk without detracting from my love of either one.