If ever you do your food shopping in a supermarket in France and come across a bottle of Lait ribot, don’t worry: it is simply buttermilk in French and is a by-product of butter making.
Buttermilk, (also known as fermented milk), is a dairy product that is made by adding bacterial cultures to skimmed or low-fat milk. It has a slightly thick texture and a tangy flavour that is often used in baking recipes to help activate the yeast and create fluffy, light finished products.
The Bretons add lait ribot to fresh fruit, to soup and to mashed potatoes, and I also know many Bretons who dunk their galettes (savory buckwheat pancakes) into lait ribot.
Buttermilk is also consumed on its own or mixed with spices to create a refreshing and healthy drink. As well as being delicious, buttermilk is also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and protein.
Bretons enjoy a glass or two of lait ribot and quite often the only fresh milk you find in supermarkets is ‘lait ribot’. If you want ‘normal’ milk you have to drink UHT milk (which is not the same thing at all).
To me, lait ribot is very much like marmite, you either love it or hate it. When you are next in Brittany have a glass and let me know what you think.
Editor Notes about Lait Ribot
Lait Ribot has been made in Brittany for thousands of years and is also made in other areas of France where it is known as ‘lait battu’, lait baratté or ‘lait de beurre’.
I haven’t knowingly tasted it, but I’ll look out for it from now on.