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Ways We Use Whey

February 22, 2011

I’ve been doing a lot of cheesemaking, and as a result there has been a lot of whey. If you’ve made cheese, you know that whey is a byproduct of cheesemaking. And there isn’t a little of it; there’s quite a lot. The pitcher pictured above is usually full up.

I hate to waste food, so I work hard to find ways to use up whey. My understanding is that you need to use it in a week, so it’s a bit of a race. No problem, though, as it’s tasty and nutritious stuff and can go in lots of places:

  • Substitute for water in bread. We make ciabatta bread on a frequent basis, and the whey makes it taste much richer and more interesting. Plus, it’s more nutritious.
  • Substitute for stock in soup, rice, or risotto. Another way to avoid using commercial broth or wasting perfectly good vegetables making new broth (a pet peeve of mine). Similarly, I’ve read that you can soak dry beans in it.
  • Sports recovery drink. On its own, mixed with Nuun (our favorite hydration solution, high on what you need and low on all the other junk), or mixed with chocolate milk (allegedly a good recovery drink, though I have my doubts).

Some other ways I’ve heard whey can be used, though I haven’t tried to do so myself:

  • Soda. Not sure I would ever actually make soda, but I did get to taste Rivella in Switzerland a few weeks ago. It’s a Swiss soda made of whey. Makes sense to find something to do with whey if you are a nation of cheesemakers!
  • Animal food. The founder of Vermont Butter & Cheese told me that her whey goes to local livestock, who love it so much that they are very unhappy when they’re deprived.  I’ve heard that people feed it to their dogs, but I haven’t tried with my cat yet.
  • Plant food. My understanding is that the acid whey from soft cheeses can be used to water acid-loving plants, but I don’t think any of my plants are acid lovers! Examples I’ve found of such plants include azalea, magnolia, and rhododendron.
  • Other cheeses. Because I’m still making just  soft cheeses, the acid whey I’m producing can’t be used to make ricotta or other cheeses — I don’t think. Looking forward to using the sweet whey from hard cheeses once I “graduate” to these!

Leave a comment if you know of other creative uses for whey or have feedback about any of these!

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Sue permalink
    May 22, 2011 1:06 am

    Thanks for the info on whey. Made some farmers cheese today and I think I shall put the whey on a rhododendron plant I am trying to encourage to a second life 🙂 Appreciate your sharing!!

  2. Doreen permalink
    March 25, 2012 3:06 am

    It might be worth a try to use a neutralizing agent in the acidic whey, which is left when we make farmer’s cheese with vinegar. It takes less than 1 teaspoon of baking soda, added to the whey, to cut the vinegar taste, though a pH test strip might be more reliable to tell exactly how much to use. If the vinegar is neutralized, then its uses may be varied.

  3. June 21, 2012 8:46 pm

    Oooh, that’s a good idea, to cut the acidity with baking soda.

    Thanks for this; I’m looking for more uses for whey. This is my second year participating in a CSA, and the farmer has as much raw goat and cow milk as I can take. I’ve been experimenting — with great success — in making cheese with the milk, since I’m allowed to take way more than our family of seven can drink! Mostly, I use the (unsalted) whey in my garden, because I live in the Phoenix area, and our soil is naturally alkaline, and the acidity is good for ALL the garden plants! I also made a drink — I’m sure it’s way healthy, but it might be an acquired taste — from 3/4 clear-yellow whey, 1/4 unsweetened pure cranberry juice, and sweetened it with stevia and a little xylitol.

    I know this post is from last year… and I don’t know what you’ve been doing with your whey since then. But, I’ve successfully made ricotta from the whey left from mozzarella (which uses citric acid and rennnet), and a basic hard cheese which is started by letting the milk sit out at room temp over night, then adding rennet in the a.m. So, it is already naturally acidified (or, fermented)… and the ricotta from that was great!

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