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DEAR HELOISE: What, exactly, is buttermilk, and what are those little yellow specks in buttermilk?

-- Barb G., Indiana

DEAR READER: There are two types of buttermilk: traditional and cultured.

Traditional buttermilk was the liquid that was left after churning butter from cultured, or fermented, cream. The milk was left to stand for a period of time, which allowed the cream to separate from the milk. Lactic acid in the milk produced a bacteria that fermented milk.

Cultured buttermilk is from milk that has been pasteurized and homogenized. Then one of two types of bacteria is added, which encourages the natural fermentation process. Some manufacturers add tiny yellow flakes to imitate butter.

DEAR HELOISE: Why do some recipes call for unsalted butter and others don't seem to care? Does it really matter which one I use?

-- Norma M., Dillon, S.C.

DEAR READER: Norma, it all depends on what you're making as to whether to use salted or unsalted butter. Many baking recipes call for unsalted butter. Salt in butter acts as a preservative and will extend the freshness of the butter. If you're on a low-sodium diet, however, you'll probably want to use only unsalted butter. Some people swear they can taste the difference between salted and unsalted butter in their finished product. If a recipe calls for unsalted butter, but all you have is salted in your fridge, simply reduce the amount of salt you add to the recipe.

DEAR HELOISE: I've read that algae will one day become a food source for people. Is this true? And who wants to eat it?

-- Summer A., Camden, N.J.

DEAR READER: When you think of algae, you probably envision swamps and dirty fish tanks. However, algae may make an attractive food source for the future: It grows fast; consumes carbon dioxide while releasing oxygen into the air; does not compete with land-grown crops for space or water; and can be grown at sea. It has many uses besides food. Microalgae biomass can be used to create fuel for cleaner energy and feed for other animals. It is nutrient-rich and an excellent source of soluble fiber. People have been eating kelp, a form of algae, for generations.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Food on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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