Why You Should Try Using Buttermilk In Your Mashed Potatoes

Like many foods that are decadently rich in butter and cream, mashed potatoes were apparently an invention of the French. According to the Farmers' Almanac, an army physicist named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was captured by the Prussians during the Seven Years War in the mid-1700s and was forced to live only on meager rations of plain potatoes—which was considered at the time a form of cruel and unusual punishment for the French (ah, the French).

Per news website The Connexion, in the 18th century, the French believed potatoes were dangerous to one's health and could cause leprosy. So convinced were the French of this link, the country banned the potato in 1748, but Parmentier's imprisonment proved instrumental in showing how potatoes were safe to eat.

Once Parmentier realized that pomme de terres (the literal translation of potato in French is "apples of the earth") were not deadly, he began to extol the root vegetable and the many ways it could be consumed, including a mashed form. There are many ways to prepare mashed potatoes (with one superior potato to use), but there's one ingredient you should try adding to your mix to make your potato mash even tastier: buttermilk

Buttermilk can make your mashed potatoes tangy

To make your mashed potatoes extra tangy in flavor, Dr. Potato of the Idaho Potato Commission recommends using buttermilk instead of milk, saying buttermilk can turn mashed potatoes creamy and bring out a more tangy flavor thanks to the higher lactic acid found in buttermilk. The New York Times, meanwhile, is also a proponent of using buttermilk for "impossibly fluffy" mashed potatoes, when combined with another secret ingredient: baking soda (which is similar to our tip about baking powder.)

There are many buttermilks out there, but the cooks at Southern Living recommend Barber's as their buttermilk of choice, which is available in low or full fat. If you have leftover buttermilk after using some for your mashed potatoes, here are 23 buttermilk recipes to use up the rest of the quart. In a pinch and you can't source any buttermilk? You can also try one of these buttermilk substitutions for your mashed potatoes—though we recommend yogurt as a second best bet.