Tag: Dan Horan

Buttermilk Review with Martha Stewart

Watch this video interview and learn more about Buttermilk

What’s buttermilk’s backstory?

  • Buttermilk has been around for thousands of years and was once considered a cure for all ills.
  • Traditional buttermilk comes from the thin, acidic liquid left over after churning butter from cream.
  • Cultured buttermilk is what we find in supermarkets today. It’s typically made from adding active cultures to pasteurized nonfat or low-fat milk. We make ours from whole milk.

Country-specific notes:

  • In Poland, buttermilk is a very popular and refreshing drink.
  • In Ireland, buttermilk is sold in every village shop because it’s an essential ingredient for making soda bread.
  • In the 19th century, Irish farmers considered buttermilk the best drink for energy, to quench a thirst and to cure a hangover. Young girls washed their faces in it to improve their complexions, and their mothers and grandmothers used it to make bread.
  • Bulgarian buttermilk is a version of cultured buttermilk in which the cream cultures are supplemented or replaced by yogurt cultures and fermented at higher temperatures for higher acidity. It can be more tart and thicker than cultured buttermilk.

How do you make your buttermilk?

  • We start with fresh and creamy local whole milk, distinctive for its 3-4% butterfat content.
  • We then add four live, active cultures.
  • Once the cultures are added, it’s heated for a number of hours to reach the right pH level.
  • The active cultures break down the lactose sugars in the milk to produce lactic acid; this makes the milk more acidic and gives the buttermilk its characteristic thick consistency and tart flavor.
  • After the buttermilk is bottled, it needs to sit for another 24 hours so it doesn’t “break,” meaning separate and lose its thickness.  

Further background on our process:

  • We can’t use our buttermilk or yogurts as “mother” cultures to create other buttermilk or yogurts from milk because that’s not permitted in our Grade A dairy plant. 
  • All of our cultures come from certified culture suppliers.

What makes good buttermilk?

  • To me, the best buttermilk is rich, light and tart, drinkable but tangy with a smooth texture.
  • The whole milk we use to make our buttermilk, with a higher fat content than standard milk, adds complexity and gives it a hint of sweetness in the background that keeps it from tasting too sour.

How does buttermilk affect a recipe when baking? What are the characteristics of buttermilk that make it great for baking? How does buttermilk enhance a baking recipe? 

Can you always replace milk with buttermilk? How does the replacement ratio work?

  • Buttermilk is an excellent partner for baking soda and baking powder because its acid boosts the action of these leavening agents.
  • Buttermilk makes fluffy pancakes, scones, and biscuits. It makes more tender cakes because it softens the gluten in the flour.
  • It’s also a great emulsifier and thickener.
  • We don’t recommend substituting regular milk for buttermilk because it throws off the alkali-acid balance. The acidity of buttermilk, which regular milk lacks, is a requirement for the leavening process important to these recipes.
  • To make your own buttermilk at home, add 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice to 8 fl. oz. fresh whole milk and stir. The milk will thicken within minutes. 

How did you become an expert on buttermilk? 

  • I’ve spent many years thinking about milk, what makes the best milk and what goes into making great tasting cultured dairy products.
  • We’ve tasted a lot of different buttermilks created using different ingredients and techniques.
  • As we set out to develop our buttermilk, we had a clear idea about what buttermilk should taste like, what it should feel like in your mouth and what people would like.
  • We’re fortunate to work with a processing partner with expertise on cultures, and together we did extensive recipe testing.

What is the most important thing to know when it comes to buttermilk? 

  • For baking, buttermilk is a great worker bee and plays well with other ingredients.
  • It’s not usually the star of the show – unless you drink it straight!

Other Things to Know:

  • Buttermilk is naturally loaded with calcium, riboflavin, potassium and vitamin B12.
  • Making butter at home from fresh cream (either by shaking the cream in a jar by hand or by using a mixer with a whisk attachment until a ball of butter is formed) will give you a traditional supply of buttermilk. Keep buttermilk up to 2 weeks in the fridge, or freeze it up to 3 months.

30-Second Tips:

Glass of buttermilk with:

  • Pinch of raw sugar
  • Drizzle of maple syrup on top
  • Pinch of Maldon Salt with fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

Recipes:

WHAT IS FIVE ACRE FARMS?

Five Acre Farms Map

FIVE ACRE FARMS brings the best-tasting local food to grocery stores, restaurants and food shops. We find outstanding farmers using sustainable practices, pay them fairly and tell their stories. Our business helps to create new jobs and promote the local economy, expand access to local food, safeguard the environment, preserve farmland, protect groundwater and foster proper animal treatment. We call this being Positively Local®.

Our Products

Sourced and produced within 275 miles, our products are sold in retail locations and top restaurants throughout New York City and the Tri-State Region. We sell Milk, Half & Half, Heavy Cream, Buttermilk, Kefir, Greek and Regular Yogurts, Cage Free Eggs, Apple Juice and seasonal Apple Cider. Each package specifies the farm where that batch of the product was made.

To Be Positively Local, we:

KEEP FARMERS FARMING
We pay our farmers fairly—and directly —a price that’s above the market rate and reflects what it costs them to make high-quality food, hire and treat people properly, take care of their animals and protect the environment.

IMPROVE ACCESS TO LOCAL
We bring the best local food to grocery stores and price our products so as many people as possible can buy fresh, quality local products.

CONNECT YOU AND YOUR FARMER
At FIVE ACRE FARMS, we tag all of our products, so you know exactly where your food comes from and can be sure that the farmers who made it adhere to sustainable practices. We vet them so you don’t have to.

PROMOTE LOCAL ECONOMIES
We create jobs across the region by partnering with local farmers and processors and doing business with local vendors.

IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT
Our farmers have higher standards when it comes to our founding principles of protecting groundwater, replenishing soils and conserving energy.

PRESERVE FARMLAND
Through our work with farmers, we are supporting more than 5,000 acres of farmland in New York, Massachusetts. Connecticut, and Vermont.

What’s With The Name?

It’s been more than 20 years since Dan first had the idea that became FIVE ACRE FARMS. At the time, he was running WALDINGFIELD FARM, the organic produce farm he founded in Washington, Connecticut in 1990. Back then, Dan envisioned a company that would own or franchise a number of five-acre farms along the East Coast, working closely with farmers to market the food they produced. (Why Five? You can produce a huge amount of food and operate a viable business on just five acres of land.) Dan’s original business plan became part of his application to business school, but that was not the end of it. Over the years, while getting an MBA and then working in the grocery business and restaurant management in New York City, Dan continued to refine his concept. He ultimately concluded that FIVE ACRE FARMS could make local food available to more American consumers, and in doing so support a greater number of responsible farmers, by partnering with, rather than owning, farms.

LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM: A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN

LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM:

A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN


DAN HORAN founded FIVE ACRE FARMS in 2010 to keep farmers farming and expand access to the region’s best local food. In this interview, he offers his perspective on the company’s mission, its work to bring local food into the mainstream and what it means to be Positively Local®.

How does Five Acre Farms define local food?

The way we look at it, local is about more than just distance. Local means knowing where our food comes from and what practices and processes were used along the way. It means paying farmers fairly to support their responsible farming and business practices. Local means growing the region’s economy and actively participating in the community. It means restoring the connection between farmer and consumer. We like to call this being “Positively Local®”.

What distance is considered local? Is it 50 miles—or 500?

Some people say 50 miles. Others say 500. Under the federal food safety law, local food is produced within 275 miles of where it’s sold. We think that makes sense for the Northeast, though to us, mileage is just one aspect of local. So much goes into growing, processing and distributing food that it’s more realistic to think of that effort as regional rather than going on only within the borders of your own state.

How do you select your participating farmers?

We travel around the Northeast, meeting with farmers and introducing ourselves, FIVE ACRE FARMS and how we work. Once we identify a prospective partner, we make a number of farm visits and learn about their farming practices and processes. We take our time to make sure that we have the shared vision and goals needed for a successful partnership.

Isn’t the farmers’ market the place to buy local food?

I love farmers’ markets. Having started my career as an organic farmer, I learned my first lessons in sales at farmers’ markets and always encourage people to buy directly from farmers. I also believe in keeping farmers farming by making their products more broadly available to consumers. FIVE ACRE FARMS helps farmers get into the mainstream, beginning at the supermarket—where Americans spend the most time food shopping.

Is it possible to buy local food year-round?

While it can be a challenge to buy local all year long, you should be able to get local milk and eggs throughout the year regardless of where you live. Take advantage of that to buy the freshest milk and eggs you can get your hands on. You’ll taste the difference. Other possibilities will vary by region. In the Northeast, where I live, I can buy local apples and root vegetables year-round.

How can I make sure that my neighborhood supermarket carries local food?

Hopefully, you’re noticing more and more local tags and labels in your store. If not, ask the store manager to buy local. Be sure to mention specific local items that you and your family like. Give the store leads by telling them about your favorite area farms. In my experience, grocery stores appreciate and respond quickly to this kind of input. If your store already has a local buying program, applaud its efforts, help spread the word and offer feedback.

There are so many products and claims out there. What’s your advice for making good choices when shopping local in the grocery store?

The key is to know your sources as much as possible. Start with a couple of items, and learn where they come from, who makes them and exactly how they’re handled. If you know the farmer, then you’re well on your way to being able to make a good decision. Sometimes information about the source is purposely hidden from you, and you’ll be able to tell when that’s the case. Knowing that we all lead busy lives, FIVE ACRE FARMS tries to make things simple. When you see our label, you know where your food comes from. You know that it’s local, delicious and healthy. You know that, because we vet our farms carefully, the farmers who produced it treat their animals properly, care for their farmland and groundwater and conserve energy. We do the legwork for you.

Where can I find Five Acre Farms outside the grocery store?

Our focus has always been, as we sometimes put it, bringing the farmers market to the supermarket. We’re also finding a wealth of opportunities to build on that focus by being the local solution in other places as well—like, for example, coffee shops and restaurants, including the new Kellogg’s NYC cereal café in Times Square. We even have local flying at 35,000 feet, where our products are used by UNION SQUARE EVENTS in creating in-flight menus for DELTA. We’re bringing local food into the mainstream where it should be, making it part of our everyday lives.