“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider, who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.“
I imagine the spider then proceed to eat the cottage cheese, which is probably what Miss. Muffet was eating, or was it yogurt? Weird spider. Miss Muffet should have whacked it with her shoe.
I never paid much attention to whey. After all, where was I going to get any? What would I do with it anyway and really, who cares?
But I have been finding out some good things about whey.
For one thing, it is the liquid that pools on the top of your yogurt, did you know that? The liquid that some people mix in and others drain off. I was from the draining off camp.
It is the liquid left over after making cheese too.
When I went shopping, I found that it is used in powdered protein drinks to help buff up muscles.
According to Nourishing Traditions, cultures around the world used whey for many different things. And when you think of it, people didn’t used to waste things like we do. We throw away tons of probably perfectly useful stuff. Thats the way we’ve been taught. Toss it. But people would have gotten creative with ways to use whey. It is used as a digestive, used in drinks, in fermenting vegetables, and so on. It’s healthy stuff I guess!
I may have mentioned this before, but the easiest way to get some whey is to drain your yogurt. (You do have some yogurt don’t you?) If you have Greek yogurt, this may pose a problem, because it has either already been drained or it has too many stabilizers. But any other kind of yogurt should do the trick. In fact, it is a way to turn regular yogurt into Greek yogurt. Just drain it. Thats the only difference.
In my last batch of yogurt, I used an envelope of gelatin to help thicken it. Then when I went to make whey, nary a drop came out. How disappointing. To drain out the whey, I use a small strainer, lined with my cheese towel (you could use a few layers of cheese cloth) that I wet and wrung out. I set this over a bowl, put yogurt in it and let it sit for a while. Anywhere from 5-30 minutes usually. It depends on how sidetracked I get, on how much whey is coming out, how thick I want my yogurt, etc. But with the gelatin yogurt, nothing. Now yesterday I made a new batch of yogurt, with no gelatin. Beautiful!
I know that when I made a batch of sauerkraut, I put in about 1/4 cup of whey and within 3 days, the sauerkraut was ready to eat! I really could not believe it. The recipe and story are here. I wonder how long it would have taken without the lactic acid from the whey. Sauerkraut as well as pickles and other fermented foods have lactic acid in them to help preserve them. The lactobacilli grows in there eventually, coming from the vegetable itself, where it was lurking all along. But by putting some whey in at the beginning, it helps to speed things up.
Since I plan to experiment with more fermented vegetables, I want to collect more whey. I hear it lasts several weeks in the fridge or it can be frozen.
It is also a good way to add extra minerals to soups, smoothies, use in hot cereals or in the breads you are baking. Like potato water, you can use whey for the liquids in your breads. You can also put it into your hens water or for that matter feed it to the pigs or goats. But I am taking a wild guess and thinking most of you don’t have that opportunity.
So that is my notes on whey. In a nut shell, you are eating some every time you eat yogurt. If you want an easy way to save it for other dishes or to get others in the family to have the nutrition, but they do not like yogurt, you now know how to procure some. If you make mozzarella or ricotta, you will have lots more of it left over.
Whey to go!