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Dec 20, 2006 04:09 AM

Uses for Whey - the Real Deal, Not Powder

I've been making a lot of soft cheeses lately, thus have been dealing with a lot of whey. Some sources I've consulted have said that the whey should be used in baking...but with no indication of *how* to use it in baking. If I Google whey, it's generally powdered supplements that come up.

I hate throwing the whey out, when it could be useful. Anyone dealing with honest-to-goodness whey? What do you do with it? How is it used in baking? I need a clue.

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  1. Make ricotta. Ricotta literally means re-cooked, and is made from the whey. I've seen it made from whole milk by heating and adding a combo of lemon juice and buttermilk then skimming off the curds, I imagine that would apply to whey as well. Don't know about baking, I'd guess if you were making bread you could use it for the water?

    7 Replies
    1. re: babette feasts

      I second the vote to make ricotta. Just take the whey and heat it to 200 degrees plus (F of course). If your whey is acidic enough, little specs of the albumen will start to precipitate out once it gets to around 200. If this does not happen, add a tablespoon or two of white vinegar. Once the albumen starts to separate, maintain the heat for a few minutes so it all has time to set up, then pour through a very fine cheese cloth. In a pinch, you could use papertowels in a colander to drain it. It usually takes several hours, if not overnight, to drain completely.

      Salt if you like, then use it however you like. I usually get 1/2 - 1 cup of finished ricotta from the whey produced by a gallon of milk, after cheese making.

      You can save the leftover liquid to water plants with (use it with acid loving plants) or bake bread (in place of water).

      1. re: babette feasts

        I used this kit ( , and the instructions said I can't use the whey from Mozzarella to make Ricotta? It uses just rennet tablets and citric acid to make the cheese; anyone knows whether it works or not?

        1. re: wlai

          I have the kit too and just tried making ricotta with the leftover whey from mozzarella making using lisa13's instructions. No go. While it did produce a couple of tablespoons of a ricotta-ilke substance, it was too grainy to be edible.

          How are other folks making mozzarella to be left with such useful byproduct?

          1. re: wlai

            I think when acid is used it converts all milk proteins and non are left in whey to make the ricotta. I just made some "ricotta" using 1 gallon whole milk and 1 cup of white vinegar, then heated. nice soft cheese with over 2 quarts of whey left. now what to do with that?

            1. re: divadmas

              Use the whey to make bread. I do that all the time. When I make cheese I let the whey cool, put it it ice cube trays, then empty the ice cubes into plastic bags and put them back in the freezer. The liquid makes a much softer bread than when you just use water, but doesn't add the gummy texture that using actual milk can cause, because there aren't at many of the thicker proteins, and there is no real fat left. It's a very healthy way to add protein and softness to bread.

              Just take the whey, and use it to blossom your yeast. I like it for slicing bread, and for flatbreads. Take a large cup of warm whey, with a tablespoon or two of honey or sugar, add a packet of yeast, stir, then let sit till blossomed, add it to a cup of all purpose or white bread flour, a cup of whole wheat flour and knead, adding bench flour a little at a time till the dough is no longer sticky, but still kneads easily (kitchen aids are awesome for this because of the kneading hook, but you have to use a pro series, the entry level ones have plastic gears now and can't handle bread doughs). Then either form into a loaf, or what I like doing is taking hunks of it, working them out into flatbreads and just cooking them in a cast iron pan. If the cast iron is well enough primed you don't even need oil, other than a tiniest drizzle every 4-5 flatbreads just to keep the prime in the iron from burning out.

            2. re: wlai

              I made my first batch of mozza using rennet and citric acid. Although I read that acid based whey would not make ricotta, I had to try. I didn't get ricotta either.

            3. re: babette feasts

              This surprises me. I though whey was the biproduct that got left over when I made ricotta from whole milk.

            4. There are various whey cheeses. There's a Swiss one called "ziger" which is very nice, sliced thin with honey dribbled on it.

              1. Check out "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. The woman uses whey in nearly everything. Replace water in any bread type recipe with it. Add some to bean soaking water. Make saurkraut/pickles.

                1. Favorite movie quote (invoking the use of whey) from 'Heaven Can Wait': Warren Beatty running and shouting: "Bentley! Everett! Whip up the liver and whey shake!"

                  1. The region in India where I grew up, a cold, flavored buttermilk drink was served with lunch, especially in summer. The consistency is supposed to be much thinner (almost watery) than the cultured buttermilk you get in a carton. I am guessing that your whey is about the right consistency. Here's how to flavor it: Mash/grate a 1 inch piece of ginger, coarsely chop one hot (Thai) green chili, chop some fresh cilantro leaves. Add all of these to 4 cups of whey or thin buttermilk. Add salt to taste and a couple of teaspoons of sugar or honey. You're not going for a detectable (is that a word?) sweet taste, but just trying to balance the heat from the ginger and chilies and any tartness from the whey. Let this mixture steep for an hour or so in the fridge before serving. You could strain out the flavorings before serving. If you don't strain out the chilies and ginger when storing leftovers, remember that they will continue to steep into the liquid. The drink can taste much spicier the next day.