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What to do with the liquid strained off yogurt?

Last night I made my own yogurt which, by the way, is way easier than I ever had thought. The mere mention of a yogurt making machine made me believe that the process was out of my reach without such equipment. Was I wrong. My Indian friend is vegetarian and yogurt serves as one of his main protein sources. I felt ridiculous for buying so much low-fat/low-quality/high-priced yogurt from the store once he explained to me that making yogurt is basically 4 steps.

1) Heat milk to just under the boil and then let it cool to just over body temperature.
2) Stir in a tablespoon or so of already made yogurt.
3) Let sit for hours (I did 6) in an oven with only the light on for warmth.
4) Chill.

I like my yogurt a little thicker (ala Greek or labneh) so I strained the yogurt in a colander lined with paper towels. What I was left with was slightly-thicker than sour cream yogurt that is sooo delicious. And yellowish-greenish liquid. Lots of it. What is this? Whey? My friend says he doesn't throw it away because there is protein in there. I forgot to ask him how he used it.

Anybody know what to do with this stuff besides put it down the drain?

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  1. it's whey. drink it, add it to a smoothie, use it instead of water in your favorite bread recipe, use it on your breakfast cereal...but don't dump it, you'll be pouring a lot of nutrients down the drain!

    3 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      are you sure it's whey. i was watching cheese being made and when the curds were separated the whey looked like faint milk instead of the faint green, protein exudate that flowed off my delicious yogurt?

        1. re: sasserwazr

          double positive. And ditto adding it to smoothies.

      1. If you make bread, use it as part of the liquid. Also good as part of the liquid in pancakes, waffles and other baked goods. If you don't want to consume it give it to your cat or dog or water your plants with it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: morwen

          I have yogurt for breakfast every morning, and when I strain off that bit of whey from the top of the container, my pup sits and waits patiently for his "yogurt juice."

          1. re: Krislady

            Our cat loves it too. Only thing she loves more is the yogurt.

        2. I suppose you could also add it to smoothies, but if you're not sure what to do in the meantime, freeze it.

          1. I use it as part or all of the liquid when I make oatmeal or any other hot cereal.

              1. re: sasserwazr

                you sure can. Google "making ricotta from whey" and you'll find numerous instructional links.

              2. What does whey taste like? Is it sour? Will it make oatmeal or smoothies taste sour?

                Just curious.

                1 Reply
                1. re: karykat

                  It's mostly water. The sour and sweet flavor is subdued.

                2. Great for your complexion ... use it to clean your skin after a day of standing in front of the deep fryer making fried chicken.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I'll trade you some whey for some of that fried chicken! ;)

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Oh what a fabulous idea!! I never thought to use the water, even though I often do a yogurt facial.
                      I'm going to add that to my list, right under rice water toner. Thanks!

                      Learn something new everyday!
                      Think since I just put my yogurt in the paper towel to make lebnah, I can put the paper towel on my face and see how that goes, lol.

                      1. re: BamiaWruz

                        Here's my mom's secret for great skin.

                        -Stay out of the sun
                        -Facials with whey mixture
                        -Eat plenty of almonds and walnuts


                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          don't forget: drink plenty of water!

                    2. You can add it as a liquid in soups, or instead of milk or water when making bread. The whey has a lot of protein left in it.

                      As far as the appearance goes, I haven't made rennet based cheeses, but the whey in acid based cheeses (like paneer) is clear and greenish yellow.

                      1. I thought you meant the stuff that collects at the top of the yogurt in the container (usually about a tbsp) I strain that out, in fact I just strained it this evening.

                        When I make lebnah, I also throw it out, even though I know it's nutritious. Maybe I'll start to use it from now on, a dash of salt and a bit of yogurt mixed back in, could be good, like my favourite yogurt drink.

                        1. Can you tell me how much milk you started with and how much yogurt you ended up with?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: small h

                            from a half gallon of whole milk, i got about a pound of yogurt.

                            1. re: sasserwazr

                              Thanks. I was wondering whether it would be cheaper for me to make yogurt than to buy it, and the answer is: not really. A pound of (Fage) yogurt costs me about $4, and a half gallon of (Amish Country Farms) milk costs me about $3.75.

                              1. re: small h

                                yeah, it wouldnt make too much sense if you pay that much for a half gallon of milk

                                1. re: small h

                                  i just weighed my batch and a half gallon produced a little over 1.5 lbs of strained "greek" yogurt. so even with your $$$ milk it makes sense. from the batch, only about 2 cups of whey came off.

                                  1. re: sasserwazr

                                    Oh, ok. Maybe I'll give it a try then. Can't hurt.

                            2. I'm going to use it henceforth to water my plants or wash my face.

                              Also, what kind of milk do you use to make your yogurt? Can I use nonfat or 1%?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Marsha

                                i use whole milk.. im sure you can use anything else.

                                1. re: sasserwazr

                                  Please, don't throw it out! I can't imagine why foodies would throw out any ingredient. In addition to all the other good ideas above, use it as water to cook rice, knead dough for almost any application, soup base, etc.

                                  1. re: sasserwazr

                                    Just FYI, yogurt made with lower fat milk will often be thinner and slightly grainier. I typically augment homemade yogurt with powdered milk which offsets these problems (which whole milk doesn't typically have in my experience).

                                  2. re: Marsha

                                    I've done this a few times with skim milk - no problem! Just a few notes: I strain mine through a paper towel lined strainer for about a day. Then I check the consistency and mix some whey back in little by little until it's what I want.

                                  3. Use is it for a starter for making your own yogurt

                                    1. I threw this thread onto the comments of a recent "Bitten" column on making strained yogurt; Bittman does not use the liquid.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bigjeff

                                        but it doesn't sound as though he's actually opposed to the idea, he just doesn't seem to care or want to bother:

                                        "I suppose you could save and drink the yogurt-water, or cook with it, but I don’t."

                                      2. I was researching this today and here are some results I came up with:
                                        1. if you make cheese by separating milk, the whey that comes off of that can be used to make ricotta. Once you make ricotta, there's a secondary whey that has little protein value left.
                                        2. By fermenting your milk into yogurt first, you skip over the primary whey right into the secondary whey.
                                        3. According to Dannon and caloriecounter, 1 cup of whey has 60 calories, 2 g of protein and 13 g of carbs. For most of this, this amount of protein is not worth saving, in fact the loss of carbs is what I like about greek yogurt.
                                        4. fermenting vegetables (kim chi, carrots) work with this whey, and the bacteria does seem helpful in baked products (at the cost of 60 cal).
                                        5. great for pets if you have one (shiny coat)
                                        6. I want to try watering plants with it, but not sure about indoors?

                                        1. Use it to lacto ferment your homemade goodies like hot sauce, salsa, hummus, etc ... giving them a longer shelf life and you more healthy cultures for your stomach.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: DishDelish

                                            I just found out that you can use whey to lacto-ferment homemade mayo, which not only provides nutrition benefits but also acts as a natural preservative – win/win! [The key is to add 1 or 2 T. of whey depending on how much mayo you made, then leave it out on the counter for 6-12 hours to allow the fermenting, then store in the fridge.]

                                          2. Actually I had heard from my father that they give milk or yogurt to people working in paint manufacturing, because supposedly, it works like a neutralizer for any of the toxic fumes they have inhaled.

                                            I also remember, when I was a kid, I remember they said this liquid is good for sick people.


                                            1. A couple of thoughts. First of all, even though making your own yogurt is super simple, the temperatures are important. You don't want to overheat or under-heat otherwise the healthy bacteria will die. It's important to temper your starter.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                I tried to make yogurt, based on a recipe in a Food & Wine magazine from March, 2012. It was gritty and separated into gritty bits when prodded, so I drained it for a few hours in cheesecloth. Tons of whey drained off and I was left with something the consistency of cream cheese. It is very tangy, but not unpleasant. It never had the creamy texture of thick yogurt that I'd hoped to achieve, but I'll use it as a cheese spread. As for the whey, I'm drinking it. I quite like the taste, but anyone I mention it to turns up his or her nose and says that drinking whey would not be for them. Even those who agree to taste it tell me they don't like it. I wonder why I find it pleasant?

                                                1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                  I love to drink the whey. I sweeten (and thicken) my yogurt with 1 can of condensed milk when I make it and the whey that comes off is INCREDIBLY delicious. I love to drink it during the summer time - it's more refreshing than lemonade!