Whey is the by-product of cheese production, but it’s extremely handy to have in the home and garden. It’s a nutritional powerhouse that can be used to feed humans and plants. But even if you aren’t making cheese, you can create your own whey at home.
You’ve probably seen the powdered form at the store, but it starts out as a liquid and it’s incredibly easy to whip up.
Here’s how to prepare and make the most of this fantastic food.
What Is Whey?
Whey was discovered about 3000 years ago, but you’ve most likely come across the name on a tub of protein powder in your local health store. But what exactly is whey?
Historically, whey was a valuable ingredient for its medicinal properties in the 17th and 18th Centuries. More recently, whey was considered a “waste product” in the cheese industry and other food facilities.
Then, in the 20th century, it was made illegal to dispose of whey because it harms the environment, so people had to figure out how to use it. That’s why it’s become a popular choice of protein for homemakers looking for sustainable solutions to waste food products.
People in the cheese industry are familiar with whey, as it’s essentially the water you’re trying to remove from the curds that make cheese. The whey component accounts for 85%-90% of the amount of milk that is used when ripening cheese.
This waste retains 55% of the milk’s nutrients, making it an excellent protein source.
You might be reading this article because you’ve made your own cheese and have a lot of whey to use up. Or maybe you want to make protein shakes and are wondering how to get your hands on some of this healthy stuff.
There are other ways to make whey that doesn’t require any cheese; you can use other dairy products like yogurt and kefir.
It’s important to note that there are two different varieties of whey: sweet and acidic. The type produced from cheese is often sweet and is commonly found in protein powders in the supermarket.
Acid whey is found in dairy products such as yogurt. You can collect acid whey by pouring the mixture over a strainer and collecting the liquid.
How to Make Whey
The easiest way to make whey is to extract it from your dairy products in your kitchen. All you need for this method is a large cheesecloth, a strainer, and a bowl with enough space.
You should use a clean cheesecloth that hasn’t been bleached or has stains, as this could affect the process. Then, scoop the yogurt or kefir over the strainer in the bowl.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator and leave it until the liquid has been drained. This might take longer than 24 hours if you have large amounts of yogurt or kefir. The yogurt will turn to “cream cheese” and you can use it as you would cream cheese.
Make Protein Powder From Scratch
Making whey protein powder from scratch requires a little more effort, but it’s a great way to challenge yourself, and it will leave you with a recipe to refer to when you need more whey. First, pour milk into a large pot.
Use at least 1 gallon of grass-fed milk for the best taste and quality, depending on your milk source. It’s also possible to use a mixture of milk and cream. So, if you have both, you can add four cups of milk and two cups of cream.
Heat the mixture at 180°F and measure the temperature with a thermometer. You know that it’s ready when the liquid starts to simmer.
Once the liquid is brought to a simmer, add five tablespoons of lemon juice. Alternatively, you can use white vinegar as a substitute. If you have a combination of cream and milk, add half a tablespoon of salt and three tablespoons of lemon juice.
Leave the bowl for 20-30 minutes and strain the liquid through a strainer.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator for two hours, and then leave the whey to dry out. You can either put it in a dehydrator or process it by hand. To process whey by hand, you should bring it to a boil over medium heat.
Spread it over a tray and onto parchment paper. Leave it to dry for 24 hours.
You can blend it into a powder and store it in a reusable jar or another container.
How Is Whey Used?
Sweet whey powder is used by bakeries and confectionaries, which means you’ve probably tasted it without realizing it. There have been developments to replace skim milk powder with sweet powder in food industries to enhance texture and flavor.
You can also use sweet whey powder to make ice cream. But, some other ways to use sweet whey is to mix it into baking recipes, crackers, or candies. So, how can you make sweet, flavored whey powder?
To start, you need to have protein powder. You can use the recipe mentioned above, and then you’ll need to mix the powder with Stevia. Combine seven-and-a-half ounces of protein powder and three packets of Stevia in a jar.
Next, choose the flavor you like, such as vanilla, chocolate, or coffee. The taste will change based on your recipe, but here are a few ways to create some tasty sweet flavors.
- One tablespoon of vanilla powder to the protein powder mixture
- One-and-a-half teaspoons of cinnamon (or more if you prefer!)
- One-fourth cup of high-quality cocoa powder
For extra caffeine, you can also add one-and-a-half teaspoons of matcha or coffee if you want to bake up a cake or pancakes.
Acid Whey Uses
Acid whey is often used when making heat-acid precipitated cheeses with whole milk, like ricotta cheese. Although you can also use acid whey for sherbets, cheese sauces, and cheese powders, as it gives the flavor a slightly sour taste.
Whether you’re looking for a sweet whey protein powder or acid whey for cheese making, this product has several uses that can be useful in your home, and there’s more to come in the future!
Even though it has been historically looked at as a “waste product,” people keep discovering new ways to incorporate it into their cooking and homes.
Whey for Wholesome Cooking
Besides using whey for baking and cooking, you can add it to any recipes that require dairy such as bread, waffles, and cakes; you can also use it for many other creative purposes on your homestead.
For instance, you can use it to lacto-ferment other food like sauerkraut, vegetables, and condiments. A great way to start with whey and Lacto-fermentation is to try this recipe for pickles:
- Put pickles in a clean jar
- Combine filtered water, whey, and salt in a separate jar (see ingredients below)
- Pour the solution into the jar with pickles
- Cover with a lid
- Leave in your kitchen for 2-3 days
You’ll need the following for this recipe:
- Four tablespoons of acid whey
- One teaspoon of salt
- Two cups of pickles
- Three garlic cloves
- One cup of filtered water
- Sprinkle of herbs
Whey is also great for soaking your grains. You can soak grains in a few tablespoons of liquid to help improve their digestive quality before preparing them for cooking. It’s also an excellent addition to homemade soups and stews.
Another less common use is as a skin and hair enhancer. You can replace your shampoo with whey, as it contains the necessary amount of protein to keep your hair shiny and healthy.
If you have a protein deficiency, it can lead to hair loss and other skin problems. Therefore, increasing your protein with a whey shampoo could be a simple trick for boosting your hair and skin nutrients.
To make it smell more pleasant, you can mix it with peppermint oil or coconut oil to give it a fresh scent. But you can also mix it with lavender or other essential oils that you like!
Besides being great for hair care and skin growth, whey is also suitable for helping you increase your strength and gain muscle. Working on a homestead can be tiring, so you must keep your energy levels up when gardening.
It’s hard to fit a healthy meal into your schedule when you’re busy working outdoors. That’s where a whey protein shake is great for giving you energy and supporting your body so you can stay strong and healthy.
Another excellent benefit is that it can also assist you when losing weight. Protein makes you feel full for longer, so you can add this to your daily diet to help avoid sugar cravings.
This is great for people with health conditions like diabetes and heart problems. The list of reasons you need to start making and using whey at home is endless.
So, what are you waiting for?