Sunday, April 4, 2010

Using That Leftover Whey




Don't lie!  We know you have been throwing it out!

We have done it, too.  When you first start making cheese, you have enough to worry about without paying attention to the greenish-yellow stuff floating around in your pot.  After all, it’s really all about the curds.

However, when you get to where you’re making cheese regularly, you start to realize that throwing out the whey is quite a waste.  Why?  Because the whey typically has lots of vitamins, minerals (particularly potassium) and proteins in it.  There is no whey we can tell you how much, because it varies with the recipe for the cheese, including how hot the milk was heated.  However, in general, it is thought to have half the good stuff in the milk you used.



First, we need to clarify that there are two kinds of whey-acid whey and sweet whey.  This is important because many cheese makers try to do things with acid whey that will not work.  For example, you will not get Ricotta or Gjetost from acid whey.  Whether the whey is acid or sweet depends on the way you have made your cheese.  Let’s break this down:

Acid Whey
This comes from cheeses where you use lemons, vinegar, citric acid, etc. to acidify the milk.  For example, if you make our 30 Minute Mozzarella, Panir, Lemon Cheese or Whole Milk Ricotta, your whey will be acidic.  It also comes from making Chevre, Camembert, Feta, etc. where the pH is down around 4.6-4.8.  This whey is tangy tasting and it may be frozen to use later.

Uses:
Pour on acid loving plants or where the soil is too alkaline.
Make a fruit drink by reconstituting the juice with it instead of whey.  Or, make lemonade by adding sweetener.
Add seasonings and use as a marinade for meat.
Add a few tablespoons of it to the soaking water of your beans.
Feed it to your dog(s) or chickens.
Cook your oatmeal, rice or polenta in it.


Sweet Whey
This comes from cheeses where bacterial cultures have been used and the whey has been drained at a pH of 5.2 or above.  This includes all hard cheeses (Cheddar, in particular), Yogurt Cheese, and most soft cheeses.  This whey not only has vitamins, minerals and proteins, but also beneficial bacteria (which aids digestion).  It has a milder flavor than acid whey.  It may be frozen for later use, but not if you will be making Ricotta or a whey cheese from it.

Uses:
All of the uses above apply to this whey.
It may be used as a substitute for buttermilk in any recipe, especially pancakes, cornbread and scones.
It may be used as a substitute for the liquid in any bread recipe.  (Some recommend using only ½ cup at first, but most of us end up replacing all the liquid with whey.)  It may cause the bread to rise a little faster than usual and brown quicker, but the taste is wonderful.
Add to soup.
Add to bath water.
Freeze it in cubes and add it to smoothies.
Make Ricotta.
Make Mysost or Gjetost (See Whey Cheeses) .

If you have another use for your whey, please let us know at info@cheesemaking.com.  We'll add it to this list.

24 comments:

Jen said...

Thank you for this post. I was wondering why I wasn't getting good ricotta from my lemon cheese whey!

kitchenkungfu said...

Thanks for this! I always felt bad throwing out whey and I knew there was something I could be using it for. Now I know!

AGK said...

We have been putting whey on our alkaline soil where the potatoes are growing. They are flourishing!

jessimonster said...

I love using my whey in baked goods. Yummy in cookies! If I don't have the time or energy to save it, it goes in my compost. Then at least I end up using it in the garden.

Christine said...

I use lemon cheese whey (made with raw milk) for 1/2 of the milk when making yogurt with raw milk. I also add about 3 c dry milk powder to boost the nutritional contents of the yogurt. This obviously halves the bacterial effect of the raw milk on the yogurt. More powered milk = thicker yogurt.

Eva said...

I have used the whey from my yogurt... my chickens love it! I also use it in breadmaking. I haven't thrown it in my compost but will with any extra from now on.

Gabriell said...

Then acid whey is not used as a substitute for buttermilk or as a substitute for the liquid in bread recipes? Hmm...

Gabriell said...

Then acid whey is not used as a substitute for buttermilk or as a substitute for the liquid in bread recipes? Hmm...

jjmcgaffey said...

My mom used to make Whey Honey for a syrup or sauce - 1 c whey (from a sour-milk cottage cheese, so I'm guessing acid, though either might be used), and either 1/3 c sugar or 1/2 c corn syrup. Boil gently together until it's the consistency of syrup (or whatever you want it to be).

This is from the Settlement Cookbook, which she used when she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan in the 60s.

Jeri said...

That's interesting and I think it would be a good idea to share it with a wider audience in our Moosletter. Would you e-mail me at Moosletter@cheesemaking.com?

Karen Amelia said...

I love drinking the whey after it sits out at room temperature for a couple of days. It gets tangy and tart - very refreshing!

Karen Amelia said...

Whey makes a delicious and refreshing drink all by itself. I leave a half gallon at a time sitting at room temperature for a couple of days. By that point it is slightly tart and tangy.

Bettie Taylor said...

We made some cheese for the first time, and wondered what to do with the leftover whey-- it seemed such a shame to discard it! Thanks for your ideas on many ways to use the whey! I am making up a batch of artisan bread, using the whey-- hope it works.

Michael Maschenik said...

My pigs love fresh hot whey! I mix it with some other leftovers and they go crazy over whey soup.

catherine said...

Hi. Just made my first mozzzarella, then ricotta, then gjetost, all from the same gallon of milk. I guess I had acid whey bc I used citric acid. I yielded 1 lb 4 oz mozz, 2 oz ricotta, 6 oz gjetost.

So maybe you can make whey cheese from acid whey? Or did I just make something else?

I feel really lucky as a first timer yielding almost 2 lb cheese from 1 gallon whole milk...

Thanks for your blog!

Jeri said...

Catherine,
Did you use real milk or pasteurized? That can make a big difference.

mamasam said...

I add a few of those flavoring drops that come in a little bottle to sweet whey with a few ice cubes. I like it better than using them with water and gives me a nutritional boost.

Jeri said...

That's a great idea- thanks!

MBF said...

Your website seems to be really helpful and full of great info, but I'm a bit confused because nearly every other source tells me that the whey drained from yogurt is "acidic", and you're saying it's "sweet". Can you explain the discrepancy?

Jeri said...

I think the operative word here is "comparatively." Yogurt whey is much sweeter than the whey from, say, 30 minute Mozzarella. All whey is more acidic than milk. It's all relative. For more info, you can always ask our technical advisor, Jim Wallace - jim@cheesemaking.com. Happy cheese making!

Black Squirrel Blogger said...

I have used my whey as an antibacterial/fungicide/insect deterrent spray on my garden plants. I use 1/2 gallon water to 1/2 gallon whey plus three tablespoons of garlic juice. The wheys acidity upsets the growth of bacteriums and fungi while the garlic deters the insects.

Jeri said...

That's interesting! Thank you.

welldigger said...

I'm new to cheesemaking. I got a kit from a competitor to cheesemaking.com. I ended up with a pretty bland goat cheese, but considered it a succes. I heated to goat's milk to 185 added the citric acid and rennet and got very tiny curds (after waiting 15 hours). But I hd lots of whey. Decided to use it in a long ferment bread formula. Didn't know about :acid" and "sweet". But it made a great loaf of french bread.Next time I'm gonna use 1/3 whet, 1/3 ale and 1/3 potato water. I'm betting it ill make a helluva loaf.

Jeri said...

Yes, whey makes fabulous bread! It's cool that you discovered that on your own. Happy cheese making!