Every single time I buy buttermilk for one recipe or another, I have to brace myself slightly. Even the smallest container offers probably three times what you need for one recipe, and I am just one person. So how do you use leftover buttermilk? I could make triple the cornbread, I guess, but that's a lot of cornbread. Or I could make dozens and dozens of pancakes, but that would involve finding dozens of people to eat them. And as pancakes are usually an on-a-whim, get-'em-while-they're-hot thing, that's hard to do. Plus, I get bored by having the same things on offer day in and day out. So, what's a girl to do? What can you do with extra buttermilk?
My move? Embrace the possibilities that come with having extra. Buy your buttermilk knowing that you are going to be making some time for baking until it's expiration date. Well, baking is not quite right, actually. You're going to be making a whole bunch of good stuff—scones, for example—and then sticking those things, unbaked, in the freezer to bake off and eat whenever you feel like it, thus extending the life of that buttermilk for as long as vanilla blueberry scones last in your house. (In mine, that amount of time is "not long.")
Now, there are other ways to circumvent this "wasting buttermilk" conundrum from the beginning. You could freeze buttermilk by itself. (Our intrepid senior culture editor, Margaret, told me you could do that and it blew my mind.) Or, you could make the amount of buttermilk you need as your needs arise by combining milk with vinegar or lemon juice, which is definitely cool and mad scientist-y of you. (Considering I rarely have milk, this is not the method for me, unfortunately.)
But I buy buttermilk, and therefore, I've got to use it up. In the past, I've made quick bread and eaten it over the course of a week with tea, and then baked the other loaf later. I've made scones of every kind—ones studded with berries or cinnamon are especially good. I've tried out at least three different buttermilk biscuit recipes in search of the best one. (These are obviously good for breakfast, but you should know that you can also use buttermilk biscuits for a makeshift strawberry shortcake situation.)
Every time I make one of these buttermilk-utilizing recipes, I grab a few to bake off immediately for sharing—you can't just *not* do that—and put the rest in the freezer overnight. The next day, I transfer them to a plastic freezer bag to grab from whenever I feel like. All you have to do is bake them for a couple minutes longer than the recipe suggests. Then when, say, you have a surprise snow day, you get to have scones slathered in butter and jam for breakfast. And all you had to do was end up with extra buttermilk that one time.