A month or two ago, my local store started carrying this product. Up until now, I've used Friendship the couple of times a year I need buttermilk, and had no complaints; but I figured this was going to be an amazing improvement. I bought two quarts because I had so many things I wanted to try.
First up, pancakes. I used the recipe I've been using for at least twenty years. They usually fluff up nice and thick, since I overdo it on the baking powder and eggs; but with Kates they came out like Swedish pancakes. Did not rise at all. Tasty but not what I was looking for by a long shot. Luckily my husband gobbled them up anyway, guess it was a nice change for him.
Next up, corn muffins. Again a tried and true recipe. They only rose about half way up the cup and also stuck to the metal despite greasing well, they usually overflow the pan for me. I was planning a skillet of cornbread for company a few weeks later and would not take the chance to mess up again, I used cream instead of buttermilk as I was afraid of what the results would be. Sad because the main reason I bought it was to make "authentic" cornbread for this particular dinner.
After that I took a break, I was sort of annoyed by it all. I did taste it and it was interesting, for a second like sour milk but then suddenly a strong lemon flavor, very refreshing. So eventually I determined to keep trying. I used a bunch of it to marinade chicken for frying and it definitely made a difference. The meat came out very tender. Encouraged, I then used it instead of half and half in a creamy soup and it was fine, plus I'm sure healthier. So now I was feeling a little more optimistic.
Yesterday it was time for my annual soda bread baking spree. Again, my recipe since the 1970s. I made the usual loaf (all purpose flour with whiskey soaked raisins and caraway seeds) but also made a second loaf as an experiment, doing half whole wheat, with a handful of oats mixed in and a bit more sprinkled on top, plus a dash of molassas. The regular loaf was noticably better tasting than usual, and since it doesn't have to rise much the size seemed normal. The new concoction was very nice too, although of course a bit denser, but both seemed lighter than most soda breads I've had. At this point the buttermilk is at least a month old, I wonder if it improves with age? I still have a bit left and will use for something; guess it's one of those products that last forever, despite the expiration date!
Anyway I had posted some of this awhile back on my local board and roxlet suggested posting here, in case any bakers have experience cooking with real buttermilk. Perhaps there are secrets beyond just adding it in. I read about this product in the NY Times awhile back and was so looking forward to cooking with it, but it's been sort of weird so far.