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How to make Homemade Buttermilk- Make it at home easily with just milk and lemon juice, that’s it!

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute (Bold Baking Basics)

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Hi Bold Bakers! 

Working as a professional chef I have learned a lot over the years and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you.

How to Make Buttermilk at home is a very important Bold Baking Basic I think you need to know. I use Buttermilk a lot in my baking, however not on a weekly basis. I find myself using half a carton in a recipe and then by the time I want to use it again it is bad I would have to throw it away.  I hate waste so my simple solution to eliminate waste is to make the amount that I need using just milk and lemon juice.

Buttermilk is an important ingredient in baking. It adds flavor and makes moist, rich cakes. I love using it to bake. Once you know how simple it is to make you never have to leave it out of your recipes again. 

This Homemade Buttermilk makes a great addition to any pancake recipe, like my Best-Ever Buttermilk Pancake recipeRed Velvet Pancakes and even my Churro Waffles. Plus, I use it in my Best-Ever Chocolate Cake and traditional Irish Soda Bread.

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Buttermilk is widely available in Ireland as it is a main ingredient in traditional Brown Soda Bread. However since moving to the U.S I realized it’s not as readily available. If you are in this situation you now know that you can whip up a great substitution is minutes.

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Do you know how many things you can make homemade like Condensed MilkDIY All Natural Food Coloring,and Homemade Extracts to name a few. My full list of  all my Bold Baking Basics is here.

4.56 from 58 votes
How to make Homemade Buttermilk- Make it at home easily with just milk and lemon juice, that’s it!
How to Make Buttermilk
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1 Cup (8oz / 224g) milk (full or low fat)
Instructions
  1. Measure the milk into a jug
  2. Stir in lemon juice or vinegar into the milk. Stir to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature until the milk begins to curdle and becomes acidic.
  3. Use in place of buttermilk in the recipe as it calls for. And if you don’t use it straight away store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Recipe Notes

I don't recommend freezing Buttermilk. Dairy doesn't always defrost the same way.

 

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198 Comments

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  1. Teresa on September 13, 2018 at 5:38 am

    Hi gemma i really love all your recipe specially the crazy dough but here in philippines its so expensive the yogurt is there any substitute thanks in advance and hoping to try a lot of your recipe

    • Gemma Stafford on September 14, 2018 at 5:10 am

      Hi Theresa,
      For this crazy bread you can use buttermilk, or failing that plain milk.
      I hope you enjoy this recipe,
      Gemma 🙂

  2. AJ Daisy on September 7, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I was wondering if the way you make buttermilk is the same way as i make it.
    So my recipie is to add some yoghurt in a bowl and then add some water until you get a thick liquid.
    So, i tried your recipie and it turned out to be like the way i make it.
    So…..is it the same thing….could i use it for baking?
    Thanks,
    AJ

    • Gemma Stafford on September 10, 2018 at 5:55 am

      Hi Daisy,
      yogurt is cultured, with various good bacteria. This buttermilk substitute has had an acid ingredient added, to give a sour effect to the milk, it is different to yogurt, but in a bake it will give a similar result. good question!
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Cell on August 27, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    My daughter can’t have any dairy or gluten too. Is there anyway you can use a dairy free substitute for buttermilk? We recently found out and she so miserable because she what to eat all the wonderful food she knows. So I been trying to figure out how to substitute things but buttermilk is a hard one. Thanks cell.

    • Gemma Stafford on August 28, 2018 at 9:48 pm

      You absolutely can use a dairy free milk where I use buttermilk in my recipes. That’s no problem, Cell.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  4. Dottie Allen on August 26, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Hi Gemma
    I was wondering i dont keep fresh lemons i dont use them and they go bad . Can i use lemon juice in the bottle will that work.
    tyvm Dottie

    • Gemma Stafford on August 27, 2018 at 4:13 am

      Hi Dottie,
      Yes, you can do this, it is less acidic than real lemons but it will work. A good white vinegar is worth having in the larder too, cider vinegar is good for you too! and it will work well in this recipe.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

  5. Julie P on August 21, 2018 at 1:33 am

    Can I use lime juice instead of lemon juice?

    • Gemma Stafford on August 21, 2018 at 2:14 am

      Hi Julie,
      Lime juice is less acidic, but it will work, use a little more. Vinegar will work quicker for you too,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. Nab mohabuth on August 17, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Hi Gemma

    Greetings…

    I tried the buttermilk from your recipe.. But it didnot thicken.. I followed same instruction… Instead of lemon juice i added vinegar.. I didnot have lrmon juice that time… Can u advice please….

    Thanks…
    Nab

    • Gemma Stafford on August 17, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      Hello, great question. Even with the lemon, it doesn’t thicken much so what you made should work just fine. I hope that helps 🙂

  7. Zenab khan on August 10, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    The milk taken should be cold, warm, hot or at room temp…. thanks in advance…love from india.

    • Gemma Stafford on August 11, 2018 at 2:25 am

      Hi there,
      I start with milk from the fridge, then allow to stand at roon temperature for about 30 minutes before using.
      greetings to you in India, it is great to have you here with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Lisa Grahn on July 24, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Thank you Gemma,
    I just love your FB feed & all of the wonderful videos, recipes and shortcuts.
    Never stop being you!
    }}hugs{{
    Lisa G

    • Gemma Stafford on July 25, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks Lisa 🙂

  9. Alex on July 21, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Can I used watered down yogurt as a buttermilk substitute?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 22, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      Yes you can Alex. That will work no problem.

      Gemma.

  10. Meeta on July 20, 2018 at 6:41 am

    Hi..can i use buttermilk made out of sour curd mixed with water?

    • Gemma Stafford on July 20, 2018 at 7:57 am

      Hi Meeta,
      I am not sure what the sour curd is!
      If it is from milk from the cows which has not been pasteurized, then it is sour milk, and super for baking.
      If it is bad milk, which is what happens to old milk which has been pasteurized, then it is bad, and needs to be disposed of.
      Sour milk was used to make soda bread in Ireland for centuries, prior to pasteurization, and home refrigeration. You cannot get this now unless you get milk straight from the farm.
      I hope this is of help to you,
      Gemma 🙂

  11. Kamille Mamuyac on July 14, 2018 at 7:59 am

    If I make more than 1 cup of buttermilk, do I just double the recipe? so 2 cups of milk, 4 tablespoons of lemon juice? Would the wait time be longer or would it still be 30 minutes? Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 15, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Yes Kamille, Double everything in the recipe. And you still just let it sit for 30 minutes minimum.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  12. Julie12 on July 8, 2018 at 1:39 am

    Hey Gemma
    I tried your buttermilk recipe and it totally works! Thanks a million.
    Could you make a recipe for homemade heavy cream?
    I barely find heavy cream in my country and even when I do, they are expensive.
    Thanks!

    • Gemma Stafford on July 8, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks so much, I’m really glad you like this recipe. The heavy cream is a tricky one. It really needs to be store bought.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  13. Victoria Lantang on July 6, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I am new in baking, and I wanna thank you for giving me tips in baking also tips for making some ingredients myself, which I can’t buy in my country, since I live in Indonesia.
    I used my homemade buttermilk for making crazy muffin already and it works.
    Thank you once again Gemma.

    • Gemma Stafford on July 7, 2018 at 10:20 am

      I’m delighted you’re enjoying my recipes, Victoria! It’s important to me that anyone can get baking no matter where you live. I look forward to seeing you around the community. 🙂

  14. Simone on June 26, 2018 at 1:25 am

    Hi Gemma,
    Love love all your recipes!!!!! thank you!!!
    Is there a substitute to buttermilk in your recipes?
    My son is allergic to dairy, I have been making pancakes with almond milk but they dont come out creamy and fluffy.
    Is there a way to work around this?

    Thanks
    Simone

    • Gemma Stafford on June 26, 2018 at 1:30 am

      Hi Simone,
      Yes! You can add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk. If there is a yogurt he can have add a tablespoon of that to the milk, a plain one of course. Allow to stand for a few minutes and use. This should help the texture of the pancakes. Always so difficult to get around allergies! but not impossible. There is a vegan margarine now which will be of help to you too. hope he enjoys his pancakes now.
      Gemma 🙂

  15. Michael K on June 13, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Hello Gemma, I was wondering if I could use full cream milk powder which is what is readily available to me in my part of the world. If so, in what ratio can I mix with water to make up one cup.

    • Gemma Stafford on June 14, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      Hi Michael,

      Unfortunately you can’t use milk powder for this recipe. It has to be fresh milk that will curdle when you add the acid.

      Gemma.

  16. Susie on June 13, 2018 at 12:58 am

    Hi Gemma. Love your recipes. I have learned so much from you. Please tell me if this recipe can be used to make buttermilk ranch dressing? Thank you in advance.

    – Susie

    • Gemma Stafford on June 14, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      Hi Susie,

      Really glad you like my recipes. Yes you totally can use this to make ranch. No problem 🙂

      Gemma.

  17. Mariza on June 3, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Hi, Gemma! I would like to clarify what difference it will make with the amount of lemon juice or white vinegar you combine with the milk because based on my experience in making buttermilk substitute, I only use a 1-1 ratio with the milk and white vinegar (since lemons are too pricey in the Philippines).

    • Gemma Stafford on June 4, 2018 at 2:32 am

      Hi Mariza,
      When you sat 1:1 do you mean one part milk to one part vinegar?
      I would suggest 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar to 8ozs milk. If oyu are allowing it to stand for any time one tablespoon will work well for you. This will culture the milk really well.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Mariza on June 11, 2018 at 4:58 am

        Yes, that’s what i meant 🙂 and yes, I do let it sit for a long time before using it. Thanks for your response, Gemma! Looking forward to more baking basics that you could share so that I could add more to my notes <3

        • Gemma Stafford on June 12, 2018 at 4:20 am

          Thank you Mariza, it is good to have you with us,
          Gemma 🙂

  18. Barbara on May 31, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Does it have to be whole milk or can it be 2%?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 31, 2018 at 12:35 pm

      Hi Barbara,

      It can be 2% :), no problem.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  19. Jamie on May 19, 2018 at 3:24 am

    Can I use lactaid milk for this?

    • Gemma Stafford on May 19, 2018 at 4:06 am

      I don’t think so Jamie as it won’t curdle. You need dairy milk.

      hope this helps,
      Gemma.

  20. MIla on April 22, 2018 at 5:17 am

    thanks for this substitute for buttermilk Gemma, it has saved me from buying expensive ones… i tried this twice already in your chocolate cake recipe and my family loved it.. what i used thos coz lemons here in the philippines is also expensive is apple cider vinegar.. thanks again

    • Gemma Stafford on April 23, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Hi Mila,
      yes, it is an interesting thing that lemons are not grown so much in South East Asia, though they are widely distributed through the world there are places just not suited to growing lemons, and in these places they are expensive.
      A good vinegar, such as cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar is a big help.
      thank you for letting us know,
      Gemma 🙂

  21. Glyn on April 13, 2018 at 3:17 am

    Hi Gemma
    I am very new to baking world, I never bake anything but I found you via google search how to make my own butter. Now you inspire me so much I want to learn how to bake great hah! I live in UK but we go to India where butter is not easily available and my kids love butter so much. Good news is Cow’s milk available. I am excited that I learnt how to make butter from you but I am wondering whether it is enough to use cow’s milk straight from the cow. Is it thick enough to use it?. I see you using a lot of cream. What is the different between cream and milk? Cream added something else? I understand double cream is thicker then milk. Any advice please.
    thank you
    Glyn

    • Gemma Stafford on April 15, 2018 at 5:27 am

      Hi Glyn,
      How lovely to have you with us.
      Milk from the cow contains 3.5% fat (cream).
      Separating this cream from the milk allows you make butter easily at home. In the old way the butter was indeed made from the milk, in a large churn, which was agitated to separate the cream into fat globules. This was then strained, washed, and formed into butter. Salting it was a way to preserve it prior to refrigeration. The residue was buttermilk, which could be used in baking or consumed. Usually it had a fermented/sourish taste, which was from the natural bacteria, and good for the gut.
      In India, Pakistan and other places Malai was a way of making cream. This South Asian cooking ingredient is made when non-homogenized whole milk is heated to about 180°F for about an hour.Then it cools. When preparing it, a thick, yellow-toned layer of fat will form on the surface. It is then skimmed off, and the process is repeated to remove the majority of fat. There is about 55 percent of butterfat in malai.
      Typically, buffalo milk produces better malai. Buffalo milk has a fat content of about five to 12 percent and cow’s milk has three to five percent of milkfat. This is why most people prefer buffalo milk when they make malai.
      Clotted cream is a similar thing to this.
      This is mostly use in savory spiced foods, and produces a mild flavor.
      So, in this modern world we shorten the process by using cream, the higher the fat content the higher the yield of butter. If you can get cream from buffalo milk in India you will make great butter.
      I hope this lecture helps, and I did not give you too much information!
      Gemma 🙂

      This so is a bit of a lesson around dairy milk/cream/butter.

  22. vaishnavi naik on April 6, 2018 at 1:37 am

    Hey..all your recipes are simply amazing!! Thanks a lot once again for this one too!! Gona use it for the chocolate cake recipe..I wanted to as if it’s ok to replace the oil with butter?

    • Gemma Stafford on April 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks so much! Yes you can, just sub it out with the same amount of melted butter. 🙂

      Best,
      Gemma.

  23. vannmaxey on April 2, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Hi Gemma, Can I use lemon juice if I don’t have fresh lemons?
    Ronni

    • Gemma Stafford on April 3, 2018 at 2:58 am

      Hi Ronni,
      It does not seem to be as effective somehow. Vinegar will be a better choice. If you have cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar it will help.
      Do try this, it is worth a shot,
      Gemma 🙂

  24. Tea Surina on March 22, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I come from Croatia so we don’t have it to buy! Best regards from Croatia!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 23, 2018 at 5:41 am

      Hi there,
      Greetings to you in Croatia too, I have it on my bucket list to visit.
      I am happy to have you with us, lots more to come!
      Gemma 😉

  25. Dr Martin Huang on March 18, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Wow. Thank goodness I came upon your website to chance upon this DIY recipe!
    This would definitely save me quite a fair bit of money as well as not wasting the leftovers as my recipe only calls for a few spoons of buttermilk!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Hi there,
      Yes, this is really the idea, now you can make just what you need,
      Gemma 🙂

  26. Greg on March 17, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you very much for this recipe. I’m only giving it 4 out of 5 because I haven’t tried it yet :-). In the past, I’ve avoided recipes that call for buttermilk because a carton of buttermilk is too expensive to use one or two cups for a recipe, then throw away the rest. I’ll give your substitute a try (I always have lemons) and let you know how it goes.

    • Gemma Stafford on March 19, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      Hi Greg,
      Yes, you are right, and this is what I have found too, buy a carton, then look at it in the fridge until it goes out of date.
      The buttermilk we buy is cultured too, in much the same way as we do in this recipe, so it is perfectly fine to make as you go.
      Thank you for being here with us,
      Gemma 🙂

  27. Naome Rhania on March 9, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Hi Gemma. Thank you for helping us make these products at home. I live in Ug where they are so expensive. Now i can make my own right at home n yet fresh👍

    • Gemma Stafford on March 9, 2018 at 4:04 am

      Hi there,
      I have no idea where you live! Is it Uganda?
      Yes, some of the non traditional ingredients we talk about here are really expensive in other places, and I try to get over that by showing you a way to make these at home.
      That is the idea behind the BASICS series, we will add to this as time goes on too.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 😉

  28. Sky on February 14, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Yay! This recipe saved my life! Thanks so much Gemma!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 15, 2018 at 4:20 am

      Thank you Sky 🙂

  29. Gergana Karaboycheva on February 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Hey! Is it possible to use amond milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Unfortunately no, it has be fresh milk

  30. Zarau Saeed on January 16, 2018 at 9:31 am

    I must confess…. I love bold bakers. I mostly use their recipe.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 17, 2018 at 3:59 am

      Hi there,
      I love you Bold Bakers too, great for giving help to each other, and advice to me, well done,
      Gemma 🙂

  31. mistty on January 15, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Can i use whole wheat flour in these recipies. If so is the amount the same.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 15, 2018 at 5:09 am

      Hi Misty,
      (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/irish-soda-bread/) try this recipe!
      The problem with whole wheat flour is that, though it is high in gluten, the gluten is not so available, because of the way it is milled.
      For some recipes this is not a problem, cookies for instance can work well with this flour, but it is a different thing, and will give a different result.
      In most cases there is a need to mix it with plain/all purpose flour to get a good result. The banana bread here is a good example of where this will work.
      Fine cakes, like Vanilla birthday cake for instance will be less successful, these types of cake are designed for white flour.
      Adjustments may also need to be made to the liquid ingredients for wholemeal flour.
      So, you will need to match the flour to the recipe, think about it!
      Gemma 🙂

  32. Monika on January 5, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Gemma
    I am from India, a pure vegetarian.
    We don’t use lemon in milk as per Ayurveda.
    Can I use real buttermilk(left after butter is made) for your muffin recipes?
    Does it have to be sour or as it is?
    Also, please give egg substitutes in crazy muffin recipes.
    Thanks a lot

    • Gemma Stafford on January 6, 2018 at 4:31 am

      Hi Monika,
      Are you saying that you use dairy milk? The buttermilk residue left behind by the butter making process is a lovely thing, and different as you say from the ‘cultured’ buttermilk we make here. It does need to develop the acid. Organic, unpasteurized milk will naturally ‘sour’ and can be used in baking, this is what was traditionally used to make soda bread in Ireland. Now, because of the way milk is treated is goes bad, rather than sour, and cannot be used in the same way. So, natural sour milk can be used, and buttermilk too, but it needs to be allowed to stand, until it slightly thickens through fermentation, and the development of the lactic acid, then it is as good as it gets!
      Gemma 🙂

  33. Vicky on December 31, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Hi Gemma, would distilled white vinegar work for this? Thank you 🙂

    • Gemma Stafford on January 2, 2018 at 6:10 am

      Hi Vicky,
      Yes, that will work perfectly,
      Gemma 🙂

  34. EkaRippanawatiNiWayan on December 27, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Hi Gemma, How are you? I am glad that I can learn every recipes that you shared, thank you. And I love to know more. I would like to ask, can I used milk powder by adding 1 cup water in it + 2 tablespoons lemon juice to make buttermilk? Thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on December 27, 2017 at 2:39 am

      Hi there,
      Yes! Remember this is really a cultured buttermilk, so it will work well too.
      Real buttermilk is the milk residue left after butter has been made from milk, a different thing really.
      Gemma 🙂

  35. Eiman on December 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    How much tablespoons of buttermilk does this recipe make ?

    Eiman

    • Gemma Stafford on December 6, 2017 at 4:33 am

      Hi there,
      You can make this to what you need. I used one cup/8oz of milk for this one, but you can reduce it, or increase it as you wish.
      In one cup of milk there are about 12 tablespoons.
      Gemma 🙂

  36. Sandra Larson on November 27, 2017 at 11:23 am

    I’ve made buttermilk twice now. The first time in banana bread and the taste was bitter. I’m using it again today and the batter is again bitter. I am baking the bread anyway thinking something magical will happen. Any thoughts?

    • Gemma Stafford on November 28, 2017 at 1:46 am

      hi Sandra,
      I really do not think I have ever tasted buttermilk in a baked food. I am a bit mystified by this. You can perhaps lighten this, by mixing it with fresh milk, or reducing the acid and allowing more time at room temperature to curdle it. Let me know how this works, I am interested in this,
      Gemma 🙂

  37. LaLangueLongue on November 24, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Do you use warm or cold milk ?

    • Gemma Stafford on November 25, 2017 at 3:18 am

      Hi there,
      It does not really matter, allowing it to stand is what matters here,
      Gemma 🙂

  38. Zia on November 19, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Do you prefer to use one acid over another?

  39. melray on November 15, 2017 at 5:14 am

    can i use full cream milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on November 17, 2017 at 2:45 am

      Hi Melray,
      Sure, that will be good,
      Gemma 🙂

      • melray on November 18, 2017 at 1:32 am

        thank you very much

  40. Ananya961 on October 30, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Can this be used to make buttermilk fried chicken?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 30, 2017 at 6:21 am

      Hi there,
      YES! this is what is known as a cultured buttermilk, which is what we generally buy in the store too. Go for it!
      Gemma 🙂

      • ananya961 on October 31, 2017 at 3:49 am

        Thank you and yes I shall go for it… 😉
        ;-D

  41. Alyssa Morales on October 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Hi, will this work on soy milk? Thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on October 27, 2017 at 2:33 am

      Hi there,
      Actually yes, this really is about adding the acid ingredient to your baking. The curding of the milk is not so important,
      Gemma 🙂

  42. Cris on October 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Hi good day,can i use sterilized milk?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 20, 2017 at 1:15 am

      Hi Cris,
      Good day to you too! Yes, you can, what you are looking for is the acid ingredients, which buttermilk/yogurt/lemon juice/vinegar are. Usually it is to balance with an alkaline ingredient for leavening, such as bicarbonate of soda, or indeed cocoa!
      Happy baking,
      Gemma 🙂

  43. Faseeha Yaseen on October 10, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Did yu use boiled milk or raw one ?

    • Gemma Stafford on October 11, 2017 at 1:51 am

      Hi there,
      Where I live milk is pasteurized, hardly ever bough raw these days.
      You can use milk you know to be safe to drink, either one will work,
      Gemma 🙂

  44. DARYL JOSE GOLEZ on October 7, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I would like to ask, can I used evaporated milk instead of milk if it is fine? thank you.

    • Gemma Stafford on October 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      hummm, you know I don’t think that would work. Sorry. Real milk is best.

      Gemma.

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