When someone mentions whey to you, what’s your first reaction? Many people just nod their heads left and right thinking that it’s something gross. Well, they’re wrong: whey is a leftover, transparent liquid, that remains after curdling milk. It has a mild sour taste and it’s packed with proteins, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes.
There are two types of whey: acid and sweet, that have different uses, but we’ll talk more about that later.
The most important fact about whey is that it’s extremely healthy.
Due to its almost neutral and mild taste and so many health benefits, whey has so many uses not only in our kitchens, but the entire household: from excellent food addition to plant care and beauty care products.
In this article, we’ll share with you various ways to use whey, and explain everything you need to know about this amazing product.
What to Do With Whey
1. Fermenting Culture
Did you know that you can use whey as a fermenting culture for your vegetables?
For example, if you were making Ricotta cheese or yogurt, and have some leftover whey, you can use it as a fermenting culture for pickling vegetables. I’ll share a simple recipe for Lacto-fermented vegetables here with you.
How to Make Lacto-Fermented Vegetables
- Whey: 4 tbs;
- Filtered water: 1 cup;
- Salt: 1 tbs;
- Chopped vegetables of your choice: 2 cups;
- Garlic cloves: 3;
- Herbs (oregano, basic, ginger): 1 tbs;
First, combine whey, salt, and filtered water in a separate jar and stir well. Then, add finely chopped vegetables inside. Keep in a dark and cool place for at least 48h.
Which Whey to Use?
Not all whey is a fermentation-culture kickstarter. It needs to be rich with beneficial organisms. If you get your whey from culturing milk at beyond 100°F, it’s not suitable as a fermentation starter culture, because it no longer has beneficial organisms. If you used a lower heating temperature, you can use it as a fermentation starter culture.
2. Protein Shakes
Whey is the perfect addition to any home-made smoothie, fruit-slushie, or milkshake, as it’s full of probiotics and proteins. Using whey in home-made shakes can keep you full long hours. You can use it instead of water or even milk and yogurt .
However, it’s still not recommended for people who are lactose intolerant.
3. Soups, Stews, and Other Boiled Dishes
Salted whey is an excellent addition to soups, stews, pasta, oatmeals, potatoes, or rice. If you have a lot of leftover whey at home and don’t want to throw it away, you can boil it with other dishes you regularly prepare at home. It will add some proteins, minerals, and vitamins into the dish and an extra deep flavor.
You can even use it instead of water for soups, stews, oatmeals, and rice (all the dishes where you don’t spill excess water).
Usually, meat marinade recipes include acidic, aromatic, fat, and sweet ingredients.
For example, a combination of olive oil, lemon, garlic, and parsley is very common as a fish marinade. There are also meat marinades that include honey, fruit nectars, vinegar, coconut oils, or spices such as curry, cumin, or smashed garlic. But how does whey fit into this picture?
For example, you can use acidic whey as an acidic element in your marinade recipe. Here are a few marinade recipe suggestions:
Basic Pork Whey Marinade
- 2 cups of whey;
- Bay leaves;
Souvlaki Pork Whey Marinade
- 1 cup of whey;
- ½ cup olive oil;
- 1 teaspoon oregano.
Chicken Whey Marinade
- 2 cups of whey;
- ½ sliced onion;
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped or smashed);
- ¼ cup cilantro (chopped);
- ¼ lime.
5. Whey Soda
Did you know that you can combine whey with all sorts of fruit juices, such as lemon juice, limeade, ginger ale, or even herbal tea?
It may sound awkward at first, but what you get as a final product is an incredibly tasty fermented beverage rich with proteins, good bacteria, enzymes, and other probiotic properties.
It’s recommended to use sweet whey, but unsalted acidic one is fine as well. Here’s what you need:
- Whey: ½ cup;
- Sugar: ¾ cup;
- Herbal tea or water: ½ gallon;
- Fruit of your choice (ginger, lemon, orange, lime…).
Preparation is very simple, as all you need to do is mix all this and keep it in a jar or bottle.
6. Self-Care Products
Although alimentary products are the first ones that pop into our minds when we think about whey, did you know that it’s also excellent for skincare?
Recently, we’ve become particularly alarmed by the number of unnecessary chemicals that end up in our creams, baths, aftershaves, etc. If you have some whey leftover from making homemade yogurt or Ricotta cheese, you might want to use it to return to some organic skin-nourishing traditions.
Whey is full of lactic acid that helps remove the dead skin cells from the surface of our skin and reveal a younger-looking skin-layer. It also has some probiotic qualities, so it can help optimize your skin’s flora. Here are a few tips on how to use whey to make homemade organic skin-care products.
This one is the simplest of them all: just add whey to water and get in the tub. Don’t stay in longer than 30 minutes. In Bavaria, this kind of skin treatment is very popular, and many people search for places where they can pay for a whey bath! If you have a tub, homemade yogurt whey leftovers, and water, you can do it yourself!
The procedure for face wash is completely the same: mix whey with water and wash your face with it.
If you struggle with dry hair or dandruff, whey is a much better option for maintaining your hair in excellent condition than chemical beauty products. Again, it’s quite simple. You just need to use whey as the liquid hair mask: mix with water, leave on hair for 5-10 minutes, rinse, repeat.
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Combine whey with aloe vera gel. Then, strain it with a strainer or a cloth and use it for shaving.
Mix whey with honey and warm a bit. Make it more consistent by adding rose water or distilled water. Clean your skin with water and soap, apply a mask on the skin, and leave it on for half an hour. You can also add whey to any other face mask of your choice.
7. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese made of whey left after preparing milk kefir, yogurt, or cheese may not be as creamy and sweet as the one made of whole milk, but it’s one of the tastiest ways of reusing whey that would otherwise be thrown away.
The ingredients are very simple:
- Non-iodized salt (cheese salt);
- White vinegar: ½ cup;
- Fresh whey: 2 gallons;
- Milk: 1 gallon.
First, combine whey and milk and heat to 195°F and stir constantly. Make sure it doesn’t boil. As it reaches the target temperature, remove from heat, and add vinegar. Don’t stop stirring and you’ll see the curds forming. Put a colander in the sink with a coffee filter on top, and pour the mixture into the filter, slowly. Once you empty the pot, let ricotta drain for another hour to get soft ricotta, or at least 6 hours for firmer cheese. Mix it with salt according to your taste.
8. Mozzarella Stretch
If you decide to prepare Mozzarella at home, you can use whey instead of warm water to stretch the curds. It will also give it more flavor.
9. Soak Grains or Nuts
By soaking grains or nuts into salted whey you can add more probiotics and flavor to them. If you decide to cook grains, you can replace other cooking liquids with whey.
One of our favorite ways to use whey is baking. Whey is an excellent addition to any type of dough, as its acidity softens it. You can use it for all types of does: bread, pizza dough, pancakes, chocolate-chip cookies, biscuits, brownies…if you’re baking a dainty, sweet whey should do the trick, but if you want to bake bread or pizza doe, add some salt in the recipe according to your taste.
Perhaps you already know how to make homemade butter. But did you know that you can combine it with whey?
All you need to do is leave whey overnight so its cream rises to the top. Use that cream to make butter!
12. Soil Acidity and Pest Control
If you really need to find additional alternative uses for whey, you can use it to improve your plants’ soil acidity and pest control.
What types of plants are you growing? Do they require more or less acidity? If your plants require additional acidity, as tomatoes do, add some whey to the soil and lower its pH levels.
Whey can be an excellent pest control as well. Strain it, mix with water, and spray on your plants to maintain their powdery mildew.
13. Animal Food
All the health benefits of whey that work for humans, work for animals as well. If you have a lot of whey lying around and can’t use it for your own food, beauty products, or plant care, and you do have animals, feel free to enrich their food with whey.
Since whey is full of proteins, enzymes, and minerals, it’s very friendly for all meat-eaters. This means you can feed it to your household pets, like cats and dogs, but if you have farm animals, you can feed them as well .
Whey is so healthy it can’t do any harm to an animal’s digestive system, it can only help them develop muscles and improve their diet.
What Is Whey in Milk?
Whey in milk is one of the two extremely important proteins. It’s naturally found in cow’s milk. When we make cheese out of cow’s raw milk, we add special enzymes to the milk that separate curds from liquid whey.
What Is Yogurt Whey?
Yogurt whey is just regular whey that remains after making cheese, yogurt, or kefir at home. This way, you usually strain out acid whey.
How Long Does Whey Last?
Whey can last in its raw form up to 6 months. You should keep it in the refrigerator.
Can I Freeze Whey?
Yes, you can freeze whey, although you won’t prolong its shelf life significantly this way. If you decide to keep it in the freezer, make sure to place it in an airtight container. You can keep it slightly longer than 6 months.
Is There Whey in Cheese?
Usually no. During the cheesemaking process, whey is filtered or strained out. However, you can make some types of cheese with that whey, like Ricotta cheese.
Is There Whey in Butter?
No, butter is almost completely lactose-free, so there’s no whey in butter.
What Does Whey Taste Like?
Whey is usually considered unflavored, similar to plain yogurt. However, it can be slightly sour and creamy.
What to Do With Whey From Cheese Making?
All the above-mentioned uses of whey are suitable for whey from making cheese. If you want to use whey in food just add salt to taste if you want to make something salty.
What to Do With Kefir Whey?
Again, Kefir whey is all whey recipes-friendly. Just use the remaining whey for any of the above-mentioned purposes.
What Is Sweet Whey?
Sweet whey is usually derived after manufacturing rennet or pressed types of hard cheese (Cheddar, Swiss). It’s rich with carbohydrates and has an excellent texture for combining with dairy produce, sweets, or bakery. It’s great to use for cooking, as it doesn’t have a tendency to clump.
Here’s a list of products you can combine with sweet whey:
- Bakery – any type of dough;
- Sweets – brownies, homemade chocolate, cookies, etc;
- Ice cream;
- Melted cheese.
What Is Liquid Whey?
Whey usually comes in liquid form. When you curdle and strain the milk, what remains is liquid whey.
You can also find whey powder in stores, but that’s just proteins taken from liquid whey.
What Is Acid Whey?
Acid whey is also a liquid leftover after preparing certain dairy products at home. The difference between sweet whey and acid whey is adding acids such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice into the recipe to enhance the curdling process.
You usually get acid whey after preparing Greek yogurt, strained yogurt, cream cheese, cottage cheese, lemon cheese, farmer’s cheese, or Quark.
Acid whey is great to use as an addition to soups, marinades, addition to sour cream, acid whey sodas, or smoothies. You can also use it as plant care: to acidify their soil or as pest control (add whey to water and water your plants with it).
The Bottom Line
Whey is by far one of the most researched alimentary products. That’s all due to its amazing effects on human health.
It’s rich with proteins, minerals, enzymes, and it’s known for its probiotic effects on our stomach flora. It’s excellent for recreational and professional athletes, as it helps muscles to grow and fat to burn faster. It gives us more energy and improves our immune system’s response.
There’s truly a ton of uses for whey in our households, we probably never even thought so. From smoothies and soda drinks to soups, meat, and fish marinades. It’s a great beauty product as well and you can add it to any face and hair mask recipe, or use it as hair shampoo, conditioner, or bath.
As we mentioned above, whey takes care of your plants and helps them grow, so you can add it to their soil or use as pest control. You can even feed your animals with it – not only is whey healthy for their diet as much as it is for ours, but they will also love its taste.
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