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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 (http://www.cheesemaking.com/30-Minute...) , 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 cheesemaking.com 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.

                    1. You can freeze the whey to save it up for a batch of ricotta or any other apps. It freezes well.

                      1. Thank you all so much - I don't think I'll drain any more whey down the sink! These are all great ideas/uses.


                        1. I use the whey in bread baking when making slow-risen breads. I substitute about 2-4T(depending on ambient temps) of whey per cup of water. The live bacteria in un-pasteurized whey impart complexity over the course of a couple of days, and the acids help soften whole grained breads.
                          This morning I also poured off some whey onto my blueberry bushes which are turning red from overly alkaline soil....hope this helps.
                          As mentioned in Nourishing Traditions, it's very useful as an inoculant for various fermented products like sauerkraut, cukes, pickled onions, etc....

                          1. I don't bake but there is a small funky food/bbq spot near me that serves their sandwiches on whey bread that is delicious...

                            1. On the Ben & Jerry's factory tour, they mention that they recycle whey for cattle and other animal feed. So the obvious solution is to get a cow. Milk her for cheese and feed her whey for more milk. Of course if you are in an apartment, I guess you'd have to settle for a small calf.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: DonShirer

                                Don....What a delightful comment! Sensible as well..... personally I use Ben and Jerry's ice cream to feed my apartment calf but she seems to be growing so quickly I might take your advice.

                                1. re: DonShirer

                                  Whey has been used as animal feed for a long time, usually for pigs, but I can't recommend it. We bought a seriously nasty fish-flavored pig last year that was fed whey from a famous dairy. It often gives an off flavor.

                                  So no need to find room for a pig or other animal on your patio.

                                  1. As a long time (now retired) cheesemaker, I had many uses for whey, including ricotta.

                                    Another is to add a bit of sugar and sloooowly cook it down into a delicious caramel-like sweet syrup that's great in coffee or on ice cream.. Norwegian gjeyost (sp?) is this type of cheese. I would make pints and pints of this and can it. It's addictive.

                                    You can use whey instead of water in baking.

                                    You can make panir cheese by mixing 1/2 gallon whey with 1 gallon milk.. bring to near boil then add a splash of vinegar or 1/2 cup lemon juice (Meyer lemons aren't acidic enough). Skim the curds into clean cotton cloth, salt &/or season the curds (we liked chile flakes and garlic..) then lightly twist and tie the cloth to make a ball of curd, and let cool. This makes 1 pound of non-melting cheese and you end up with .. oops.. nearly 1 1/2 gallons of whey.

                                    When I was making mozzarella, whey is the liquid I used to use to heat the curds.

                                    My dogs loved whey.

                                    I mixed it into chicken feed for my hens.

                                    It's lovely in a bath for healthy skin.

                                    I've seasoned whey with garlic and onions and used that to cook rice or polenta.

                                    I almost forgot this one! Seasoned whey makes a wonderful marinade. The enzymes in the whey brings the flavors deeply into the meat. This is especially good for meats that have been frozen.

                                    It's been a while since I had to deal with this.. I'll try to remember more.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: fromagina

                                      Thanks! This was a really interesting post...the possibilities..

                                      1. A friend recently told me that drinking whey reduces facial redness. He had been told by a natural aesthetician and he tried it. Said it was disgusting but after a couple weeks his skin was clear and glowing!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                          Based on the 'frozen dairy dessert' I'm eating, you can make an ice cream-like product with it.

                                          But, yes you're right, it is disgusting.

                                          1. re: mojoeater

                                            I mixed equal parts of whey, sparkling water (from the Soda Stream) and red currant juice I put up earlier this year. It made a nice drink, tasting slightly fermented, bubbly, and not too sweet or sour. Not funky at all . . . I'm looking forward to clearer skin soon . . .

                                          2. I just tried it on someone's advice with some crystal light powder. DY-NO-MITE!!!

                                            1. Not sure if it would be different than cheese-making whey, but whey left over from yogurt-making or Greek-yogurt-straining should have a lot of calcium, so it seems like a shame to let it go to waste. I've read people put that in smoothies or add it to soups. I used some to cook oatmeal and didn't detect a difference.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dancingmonkey

                                                That;s where I'm using it now: In oaties, smoothies, or good miso soup.

                                              2. I add it to dry milk when I reconstitute it with water by the quart. It adds body to the liquid especially when it's low fat. Could also add it to quarts of low fat milk to make it more like whole.

                                                1. Try making homemade fermented / soaked tortillas with the fresh whey (google it). Use King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour (comes in organic!) for best results!

                                                  1. I was wondering this myself, particularly in vintage colonial recipes...I've been making cheese for over a year now using recipes ranging from 1642-1944. One of my onlookers asked what do you do with the whey, and I said there wasn't much I could do with the whey, and they told me it was waistful and that it completely ruined the historical re enactment as they would probably of saved the whey for cooking. So I've been searching for vintage recipes for whey. If anyone has any ideas love to hear them.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Grendal

                                                      I'm guessing they would feed whey to their animals, just as our local artisanal cheese makers do. It's probably a safe reply. I'll give a quick look at "Cottage Economy" next time I have a few minutes. . . .

                                                      1. re: IthacaNancy

                                                        im afraid to add it to soup, how would it affect taste?

                                                    2. We get a lot of whey from our homemade yogurt, and I've been known to use it as a 1:1 replacement for milk in pancakes, biscuits, breads and other baked items.

                                                      1. In addition to using for breads, you can probably use it for crackers. My mother used whey to make middle eastern sesame rings called ka'ak. It is like a savory cracker. Similarly, you can probably use the whey to make Italian tiralli.

                                                        1. I've read all the food usages suggested by the posts, and I love all of them. But summer's almost here, and sometimes you don't want to put forth a ton of effort to make a whole production out of something, but you cannot stand the idea of wasting something as intriguing as whey. When I spy a tablespoon of whey sitting on top of the yogurt, I pour it off and brush it onto my face. It makes your skin smooth and even, and it's less involved than making cheese or bread (not that I have anything against making either, BTW).

                                                          1. It can be used as is in any soup. Just add to warm soup (not hot) until you get a taste you like. Whey is better than buying probiotic pills, especially when used this whey (pun intended). You can also use it for a starter for fermented meat broth or for fermenting veggies like kimchi or fermented salsa, cabbage (into sauerkraut) or other veggies. You can also use it to ferment milk and then use the fermented milk with heavy cream to make ice cream.

                                                            For further uses check out the Sally Fallon book above or "Wild Fermentations" or any of the Weston-Price materials. Also there is :http://theliberatedkitchenpdx.com/bas... newsletter@nourishedkitchen.com, or Mercola's interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride here or on his site: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/N... .

                                                            Those ought to keep you going.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: cheapandlazygourmet

                                                              just read this on soaking flour and grains to enhance digestibility. with an acid, like whey.