Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ways with Whey - what to do with it

I just had another failed yogurt experience.  Sure tastes good though. This time I used whole milk and an envelope of unflavored gelatin.  I'm now convinced it's because of my old, old slow cooker.  It heats up just fine, but not insulated at all, so it doesn't keep the yogurt warm enough during the resting phase. I did use vanilla yogurt instead of plain as the starter culture so that might have had something to do with it. I also just learned that you can 'incubate' it for 12-14 hours and it will be thicker and have a tarter flavor. So I turned on the slow cooker for 10 minutes and will let it sit for another 2 or 3 hours to see what happens.

If you didn't read my first post about homemade yogurt, I used Steph's recipe from her blog at

Most of this batch was destined to be yogurt cheese anyway. I'm going to put it in a colander lined with one of Bill's hankerchiefs (bleached, rinsed well and from now on designated to the kitchen - he doesn't use them anyway) and drain the whey.  We love that stuff (the yogurt cheese, not the whey) and there's plenty of bagels around.  I especially love it with canned or fresh pears and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

The smart people at  say that the gelatin inhibits whey seperation.  Bummer. I'll see what happens. (Later:  Some of the whey has drained off and now it has the consistancy of a respectable yogurt.  I used a spatula to scrape along the edges of the cloth so the whey will continue to drain.)

I also found this great toubleshooting blog page (and recipes!) -

Okay, what to do with the whey?  If you used whole milk to make your yogurt, a half cup of whey has approximately 30 cal., no fat, 1 gram protein ,7 grams carbohydrates, 130 mg calcium (according to the Dannon yogurt people).  Whey also contains many of the most important vitamins and nutrients in yogurt.

Although I could add some to the dogs' chow, I kinda want to take the 'people first' route.  I tried drinking some of it and frankly you have a stronger constitution than I do to get that stuff down just the way it is.

Here are the best suggestions I have found so far:

Pour it into ice cubes and freeze it to use in baking. You can use it in place of buttermilk in any recipe. It gives the same flavor and richness with none of the fat. It is supposed to make the best "buttermilk" biscuits and pancakes.  Use it in place of water in any bread recipe.  This is what I'll probably do with whey from now on.

You can use it in other fermented food recipes like sauerkraut or WAP ketchup (what's that?)

Soak your grains or beans in it. Soaked grains (oatmeal, rice, quinoa) and beans take less time to cook, are easier to digest and allow our bodies to utilize more of the nutrients. Add 1-2 T of whey to your water and soak overnight.  Maybe this will help cut down on the 'whiffy' side effects of beans later.

Season your whey with garlic or other spices and use it as a marinade for meat. This works especially well with frozen meats. The enzymes will help bring out the flavor.

Make some homemade ricotta cheese.  I tried this one time and was happily surprised.  The ricotta has a real fine texture. I didn't have enough and since I usually use cottage cheese in lasagna, so I mixed the two.  Good stuff.

Add some to a smoothie. (See note above about having a strong constitution.)

And of course, give some to the dogs and chickens.  My hens looked at me like I was green and had horns when I tried giving them some whey.  They just walked off.  After I put some oatmeal in the whey, they finally did eat some of it, but I might as well have just dumped it on the compost pile.

AND today (11-4-11) I discovered a list of 18 ways to use whey at Paula's 'Salad in a Jar site:

Let me know if you have any other suggestions!

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