A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 11, 2007
Buttermilk Dressing (Buttermilk Salad Dressing)

Buttermilk became widely used in salad dressings from the 1920s. By the 1950s and 1960s, recipes for “buttermilk (salad) dressing” became quite numerous in newspapers. In 1967, Hidden Valley Ranch trademarked its buttermilk dressing known as “ranch dressing.”

Buttermilk has been popular throughout Texas— especially in West Texas—and many recipes are made with it.


Wikipedia: Buttermilk
Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product produced from cow’s milk with a characteristically sour taste. There are two ways in which this product is made. In the original, “traditional” method, buttermilk is recovered as the liquid left over from the process of churning butter from cream. More commonly, however, “buttermilk” refers to what is also known as “cultured buttermilk.” This product begins as milk, to which lactic acid bacteria is then added. Whether traditional or cultured, the tartness of buttermilk is due to a higher acidity than unfermented milk. Most of the increased acidity can be attributed to lactic acid, the natural fermentation product of the major sugar in milk, lactose. The fermentation is largely accomplished by one or more types of lactic acid bacteria.

Kitchen Dictionary
buttermilk
Cultured buttermilk is probably the easiest and most fool proof fermented milk product to make nothing more than the tart liquid left after the butter is churned. Buttermilk is low in fat. It’s sometimes tolerated by people with lactose intolerance since some of the lactose is fermented by bacteria. The acidity of buttermilk also explains its long refrigerator shelf life. Slightly sour in taste. It is quite popular as a coolant in India and a variant called lassi is sold commercially.

About.com: Home Cookng
Buttermilk History
In days gone by, nothing went to waste in the standard homestead, and this included the liquid leftover after churning butter. Combined with natural airborne bacteria, this liquid thickened and soured, taking on a pleasingly tangy flavor. The resulting buttermilk made an excellent addition to biscuits, pancakes, and baked goods.

18 February 1922, Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent, pg. 7, col. 3: 
BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
2 tablespoons butter.
1-4 teaspoon paprika.
1-4 cup flour.
1-2 teaspoon mustard.
1 1-3 cups buttermilk.
2 teaspoons salt.
1 egg and 1 egg yolk.
2-3 cup vinegar.
Cream together fat, flour and seasonings, then add the sugar and the eggs well beaten, stir in milk, and set over hot water to cook, stirring until thickened. Then add the vinegar and stir until thick. Serve with a fish salad or vegetable salad.—Mrs. Leo Miller, 1131 Packerd-st.

5 October 1923, Iowa City (Iowa) Press-Citizen, “The Home Kitchen” by Jeannette Young Norton, pg. 10, cols. 2-3:
Buttermilk Dressing for Fish.
Beat the yokes of two fresh eggs until they are a light lemon color, then stir in slowly three-quarters of a cupful of buttermilk, add half a teaspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of paprika, two tablespoonfuls of taragon vinegar, half a teaspoonful of sugar and half a teaspoonful of onion juice. Beat well, then beat the egg whites that have been well whipped. All ingredients should be cold when mixed.

2 September 1925, San Antonio (TX) Light,"Table Talks” by Alice Irwin, pg.  15, col. 2:
Pot Roast With Vegetables
Head Lettuce With
Buttermilk Boiled Dressing
Grape Ice

All kinds of salad dressing come under one of three classifications—mayonnaise, French or boiled. A new sort of boiled dressing calls for buttermilk instead of the customary sweet milk or water.

The dry ingredients—one tablespoon sugar, one tablespoon mustard, one teaspoon salt, three-quarters teaspoon paprika, one tablespoon cornstarch, a few grains cayenne pepper and one-fourth teaspoon onion salt—are all sifted together into the top of a double boiler., These are moistened with two tablespoons of buttermilk, then are added two eggs slightly beaten together with the remainder of one cup buttermilk. This mixture is stirred well together and cooked over hot water until it begins to thicken. Then two tablespoons of butter are added, and when that is melted a cup of vinegar is stirred in a little at a time. If it curdles the dressing may be beaten well with a Dover eggbeater several times during the cooking.

Whenever a salad dressing calls for vinegar, I find it a wise precaution first to determine the sharpness of the vinegar. It is frequently advisable to use half vinegar and half water.

13 June 1927, Warren (PA) Tribune, “Making Modern Menus,” pg. 5, col. 6:
Buttermilk dressing calls for one cup of fresh buttermilk, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon brown sugar and one teaspoon of prepared mustard, half a teaspoon of paprika and two tablespoons vinegar. Whip until light.

11 July 1933, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 6:
Buttermilk Dressing

13 July 1933, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 7:
Buttermilk Salad Dressing.
One-half cup Imperial sugar, two tablespoons LaFrance flour, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon dry mustard, one-eighth teaspoon cayenne pepper, two eggs, one-half cup vinegar, one cup buttermilk.
Blend dry ingredients, add slightly beaten eggs, vinegar and buttermilk. Cook in a double boiler until thickened. Store in Electrolux. As needed, mix with whipped cream. Excellent with vegetable, meat or fish salads.

9 July 1937, Sheboygan (WI) Press, pg. 8, col. 3:
Dude Ranch Lettuce Bowl
(6 servings)
Two heads of iceberg head lettuce, torn into pieces; 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon scraped onion, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon mustard, dash white pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup chopped cabbage, 1 cup cubed apples.

Blend mayonnaise, onion, seasonings, and buttermilk, chill well. Place lettuce in salad bowl, and mix with cabbage and apples. Then toss with the well-chilled buttermilk dressing.

12 October 1937, Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) Free Press, pg. 81?, col. 3:
Buttermilk Salad Dressing
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons mustard
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup mild vinegar
3 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter
Method: Mix the flour, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar. Beat the eggs and add them with the vinegar, buttermilk and butter. Turn into the top of a double boiler and cook over hot water, stirring frequently, until the dressing is thick and smooth. Pour into glass jars and store in a cool place or seal. This amount makes about one quart.

3 November 1937, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 10, col. 7:
BUTTERMILK DRESSING.
One-half cup fresh mayonnaise.
Juice of half an onion.
One-half teaspoon lemon juice.
One-fourth teaspoon powdered mustard.
One-eighth teaspoon white pepper.
One-eighth teaspoon paprika.
One cup thick buttermilk.
Method: Stir all ingredients into unbeaten buttermilk.
(Note—This is also delicious served with a salad of fresh cabbage, lettuce and finely cut raw spinach.)

21 January 1938, Kokomo (IN) Tribune, pg. 7, col. 5:
Buttermilk Salad Dressing
(Enough for 8 servings)
One-half cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon onion juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, 1 cup thick buttermilk.
If these ingredients sound reasonable to you, then combine them all, swing in the salad bowl, pour on the dressing and serve.

10 May 1945, Big Spring (TX) Herald, pg. 6, cols. 1-2: 
BUTTERMILK DRESSING
1-2 c. mayonnaise dressing
1-2 onion, chopped fine
1-2 t. lemon juice
1-4 t. mustard
1-8 t. white pepper
1-8 t. paprika
1 c. thick fresh buttermilk
Stir all the ingredients into the unbeaten buttermilk.

14 March 1946, Kokomo (IN) , pg. 2, col. 2:
BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
1/4 cup flour.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
1/4 teaspoon paprika.
2 tablespoons sugar.
2 eggs or 4 egg yolks, well beaten.
1 1/2 cup vinegar.
2 tablespoons butter.
Combine the flour, seasonings, and the sugar in the top part of a double boiler. Add the eggs and mix, then add the milk and blend. Stir in the vinegar slowly, mixing well. Place over hot water and cook, stirring until thickened. Remove from the heat, add the butter, and cool. Makes 2 cups of dressing. 

12 October 1947, Fresno (CA) Bee, pg. 14, col. 4:
Buttermilk Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scant teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 scant tablespoon butter or margarine
2 tablespoons vinegar
Mix the dry ingredients and blend until smooth with a little of the buttermilk. Put in the top of a double boiler with the remainder of the buttermilk and the beaten egg. Cook over boiling water until it has thickened, stirring constantly. Add the butter or margarine, and vinegar, blend well and cool. This makes one cup of dressing and is good with Waldorf or potato salad and with all vegetable salads. 

16 October 1952, Fresno (CA) Bee, “Buttermilk Is Basis Of Tasty Dressing For Fruit Salad,” pg.40?, col. 2:
Wash finely 1 medium sized ripe banana. To the mashed banana add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of honey and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Blend thoroughly. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup of buttermilk and mix well. This will give you 1 cup of dressing Chill and serve with fruit salad. 

15 June 1953, Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada) Free Press, pg.
Buttermilk Salad Dressing
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs well beaten
3/4 cup mild vinegar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tbsp. butter
Mix flour, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar. Beat eggs, and add with vinegar, buttermilk and butter. Cook over hot water in a double boiler, stirring frequently until the dressing is thick and smooth. Makes about one pint.

25 June 1953, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, “Buttermilk Will Help Keep Energy High, Appetite Keen,” pg. 4, cols. 3-4:
BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
Ingredients:
1 medium-sized ripe banana, finely mashed
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup Borden’s Buttermilk
Method:
Add salt, honey and lemon juice to finely mashed banana. Blend thoroughly. Gradually stir in buttermilk; blend well. Chill. Serve with fruit salad. makes one cup.

30 September 1954, Corpus Christi (TX) Times, pg. 3B, col. 6:
And every salad tastes better with a complementing dressing. That tart flavor of buttermilk again goes to work in salad dressings, giving them a distinct taste.

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING
1 cup buttermilk
2-3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Dash of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients; beat well. Chill, Makes about 1 3/4 cups dressing.

DRESSING FOR FRUIT
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Dash of salt
Combine all ingredients; beat well. Chill. Makes about 1 cup of dressing.

DRESSING FOR SLAW
1 cup chilled buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients; beat well. Chill. Makes about 1 cup dressing.

24 June 1956, Nevada State Journal (Reno, NV), Family Weekly, pg. 10, col. 4:
Buttermilk Salad Dressing
Mix together
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 teaspoons prepared horse-radish
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Few grains pepper
Chill thoroughly. Stir or shake well before serving. About 1/2 cup dressing.

19 September 1957, Fresno (CA) Bee, “Buttermilk Is Ideal For Salad Dressing,” pg. 1D, cols. 1-2:
Buttermilk-Blue Cheese
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Dash of salt or pepper
Combine all ingredients; beat well. Chill. Makes about 1 3/4 cups dressing.
(...)
Buttermilk French Dressing
1/2 cup salad oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients; beat well or shake well in jar with a tight fitting cover. Chill. Makes about 1 cup dressing.

1 June 1958, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. S7, col. 3:
BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon basil
Mix dry ingredients together in saucepan. Blend in a little buttermilk and stir until smooth. Add remaining buttermilk and eggs. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Add butter, vinegar and basil. Cool. Serve tossed with a fruit salad. Makes two cups dressing.

20 February 1959, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 24, col. 6:
TANGY BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
2 packets garlic-olive dip mix
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons salad oil
Empty contents of packets into screw-top pint-size jar. Add buttermilk, vinegar and salad oil. Shake well until creamy. Chill. Serve over tomato wedges and mixed greens. Makes 1 1/4 cups dressing. 

2 June 1960, Corpus Christi (TX) Times, “Buttermilk Flavors Salad Dressing, Stuffed Biscuits,” pg. 8D, col. 1: 
BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/8-1/4 teaspoon basil
Mix dry ingredients together in a saucepan. Blend in a little buttermilk and stir until smooth. Add remaining buttermilk and eggs. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Do not boil. Remove from heat.
Add butter, vinegar and basil. Cool. Serve tossed with a fruit salad of apples, oranges, grapes and bananas. Makes 2 cups.

8 June 1960, Brownsville (TX) Herald, “Buttermilk Sweetens Your Life,” pg. 4B: 
Buttermilk-blue cheese dressing gives zip to those summer salads:
1 cup buttermilk
2-3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Dash of salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients, beat well. Chill. Makes about 1 3/4 cups dressing.

19 June 1960, Denton Record-Chronicle, Family Weekly, pg. 10, col. 3:
Buttermilk Salad Dressing
TO PREPARE: 10 MIN.
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoons prepared horse-radish
1 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Blend all ingredients together. Chill thoroughly. Stir or shake well before using. About 1 cup dressing.

Jiffy Buttermilk Dressing—Omit seasonings. Blend 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Italian salad dressing mix with the buttermilk. Chill thoroughly. Serve on a mixture of salad greens tossed with thin cucumber slices and tomato wedges.

10 February 1963, Beckley (WV) Post-Herald and Register, pg. 7, col. 3:
BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste.
Beat egg, add buttermilk, salt, pepper and vinegar. Cook in frying pan with small amount of butter and bacon drippings until slightly thickened. Pour over lettuce and fresh green onions which have been cut in small pieces. 

15 June 1964, The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), pg. 5, col. 4:
BUTTERMILK SALAD DRESSING
1-2 cup buttermilk
1-3 cup cottage cheese
1-4 cup lemon juice
1-2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic or plain salt
2 hard cooked egg yolks mashed fine
Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl or jar and mix until well blended. Use on any vegetable salad. Makes about 1-1 1/2 cups. This is a good low calorie salad dressing for vegetable salads since 1 tablespoon has about 10 calories against 100 calories per tablespoon for most dressings.

2 February 1967, Frederick (MD) News, pg. C1, col. 7:
BLUE BUTTERMILK
SALAD DRESSING
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
3 oz. (two-third cup) Blue Cheese, crumbled
Dash of hot pepper sauce
Salt to taste
Slowly stir buttermilk into Mayonnaise. Blend in cheese and hot pepper sauce. Salt to taste. Cover and store in refrigerator until needed. Serve on tossed mixed vegetable, combination or lettuce salad. Makes 2 1/4 cups. 

23 February 1967, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section E, pg. 12:
Serve with Buttermilk Dressing: Mix together 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 teaspoon each sugar and red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon basil and a dash of salt and white pepper. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in tightly covered jar.

19 June 1969, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section E, pg. 18:
CREAMY LOW-CAL
BUTTERMILK DRESSING
For 3 cups dressing, sieve 2 cups cottage cheese or mix in a blender until smooth and creamy. Stir in 1 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and 3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt. Keeps well covered in refrigerator at least two weeks.

23 October 1975, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section E, pg. 19 ad:
Hidden Valley Ranch
Original buttermilk
salad dressing mix.
It’s the taste everyone’s
trying to imitate.

The Texas Cowboy Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
New York, NY: Broadway Books
2007
Pg. 185:
Buttermilk, or clabber, was a lot more common than fruit, so buttermilk fillings were popular. And the buttermilk salad dressing that came to be (Pg. 186—ed.) known as “ranch dressing” has become ubiquitous in West Texas. Residents of that region dip their pizza, biscuits, and french fries in it. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 11, 2007 • Permalink