“I need ideas and uses for whey! I’m swimming in it!” exclaims Julia A. on today’s #AskWardee. I’m sharing my thoughts below!
The Question: “Are there recipes or uses for whey? How do you use up an abundance of whey?”
Julia A. asks:
“I thought the last #AskWardee about using up yogurt cheese was humorous, as I go through yogurt cheese very quickly. Alas, I could use help with the opposite of that. How to use up the whey when it is coming to you in abundance. Yes, I get lots with yogurt cheese, but I am right now listening to whey drip out of the Middle Eastern cheese as well. I have about a half gallon of whey. Most recipes only call for small amounts. I’m sure there are places that you’ve shared uses for whey, but thought an #AskWardee would be helpful. Are there recipes/uses for whey that call for more than 1/4 cup (or greater) quantities?!
First, what is whey?
It is the yellowish liquid that drips out of cultured (curdled) dairy — yogurt cheese, kefir cheese, or other cheeses. Whey contains protein, beneficial acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a very good food!
There are 2 types of whey — sweet whey that comes from rennet-coagulated dairy (most hard cheeses), and acid whey that drips out of dairy that’s thickened by the acid produced by fermenting organisms, like yogurt or kefir or clabber or sour cream.
Also, whey can be salted or unsalted. It is usually unsalted, but we do get salted whey off cheeses later in the cheesemaking process, when it spills out after the curds are salted. Use salted whey in uses #1 and #8.
How to get whey?
I explain more about whey and have a video for you here: Whey: What It Is And How To Get It.
11 Uses For Whey
#1 — Old-Fashioned Ricotta Cheese
This is the obvious usage when you have lots and lots of whey leftover from cheesemaking or culturing dairy. When you do this, you’re getting even more cheese from your milk. It’s using your milk twice for cheese — the ultimate in frugal!
Basically, you boil the whey until the dissolved proteins precipitate out (come out). Then strain — voila, ricotta cheese!
(The remaining liquid no longer contains active cultures because it’s been boiled, and it doesn’t contain protein anymore because that’s in the ricotta!)
#2 — As A Fermenting Culture
Jumpstart your ferment by adding 1/4 cup whey (from cultured dairy with active cultures) to a quart of any fruit or veggie ferment. This is considered a starter culture.
#3 — Homemade Sodas
Use whey as the base culture for homemade soda, like fermented lemonade or limeade.
Here’s an easy recipe for homemade soda… (It calls for 1 cup of whey!)
- juice from a dozen lemons or limes
- 3/4 cup evaporated cane juice (sugar), sucanat, or rapadura
- 1 cup whey
Put the sugar in a gallon jar. Add warm or hot water, just enough to dissolve the sugar when stirring. Combine the lemon juice and cool water to fill the jar to the shoulder (3/4 full). Add the whey. Stir. Cover tightly and let culture at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Transfer to fridge or decant to Grolsch-style bottles and chill. If it’s too tart, add honey or stevia, to taste.
#4 — For Soaking Grains Or Flour
Use whey in place of acid when soaking grains or flour in soaked recipes. We use acid when soaking grains in traditional cooking to neutralize phytic acid that would otherwise prevent mineral absorption when eating the grains.
#5 — Add To Smoothies
Use whey as some of your liquid in smoothies. It’s a great protein, enzyme, vitamin, and mineral boost!
You can even freeze your whey in ice cubes and use those cubes instead of water ice cubes as ice in your smoothies!
#6 — Bread Dough
Use whey as the liquid in your bread dough. It works great and adds protein!
#7 — Water Your Plants And Garden
Whey can fertilize your plants!
Your acid-loving plants, like blueberries or tomatoes, will love acidic whey. Keep in mind, however, that you should dilute whey when using it to water plants (1 part whey to 1 part water) and only add 1 inch of whey-water per week. More info here.
#8 — Make Bone Broth
This is a particularly good use for salted or partially salted whey.
Cover your bones with whey and/or water. Because whey is acidic, you can skip adding vinegar to pull nutrition out of the bones, then make broth as usual.
#9 — Use In Salad Dressing
Use in place of acid (like lemon juice) or in place of water or milk.
#10 — Feed Your Animals
Add some whey to your animals’ water or offer your chickens a pan of whey occasionally. The probiotics (if it’s not been boiled), protein, vitamins, and minerals are good for them!
#11 — Add To Compost
We water our compost pile so it’s moist for the composting activity. Use whey instead of water on the days you have an abundance and no other pressing use.
- Whey: What It Is And How To Get It
- Traditional Cooking School’s Cultured Dairy eCourse
- Traditioinal Cooking School’s Cultured Dairy eBook
- swing top, Grolsch-style bottles
- evaporated cane juice or sucanat
- How To Use Whey To Water Plants
What Is The #AskWardee Show?
The #AskWardee Show is the live weekly show devoted to answering your niggling questions about Traditional Cooking: whether it’s your sourdough starter, your sauerkraut, preserving foods, broth, superfoods or anything else to do with Traditional Cooking.
I share tips and resources, plus answer your questions about Traditional Cooking!
When: Wednesdays at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern
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What are your favorite uses for whey?
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