The Way to Whey: Recipe

In the last post we were introduced to the benefits of making and eating naturally fermented foods. The items needed to make ferments are nothing fancy - just your everyday foods: fruits and/or vegetables, sea salt, and whey. But, wait! Do you have whey in your refrigerator? Do you even know what it looks like? For the average American, whey is an uncommon ingredient, but in the past it was everyday fare. Before I began using whey regularly, there was only one other reference I had ever heard regarding it. Does this old nursery rhyme come to mind?
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away!
Little Miss Muffet may have been onto something; whey has many health benefits. Although whey is used in many traditional foods and is considered a must-have in any traditional kitchen, the focus in this post is using it for lacto-fermentation. In the future I’ll give you many more recipes which use whey as an ingredient. 
What is Whey?
Whey is the yellowish liquid that is leftover after milk is curdled. It has a long shelf life and can last up to 6 months in the refrigerator. It is not the same as the powdered, unhealthy, and denatured whey, which is often sold in health food stores. They are NOT interchangeable.
Whey is full of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. In the article, Enjoying Miss Muffet’s Curds and Whey, Jen Allbritton writes, 
“Whey is the tart, golden liquid known to the Greek doctors of antiquity as ‘healing water.’ In fact, Hippocrates and Galen, two founding fathers of medicine, frequently recommended whey to their patients. Whey from fully fermented milk no longer contains lactose, and with its dose of probiotic organisms will help maintain a synergistic balance of the inner ecosystem and encourage repair of gut dysbiosis. Whey also contains a fair number of minerals, particularly potassium, and a notable amount of vitamins, especially B2.”
Homemade cultured whey is very important for making fermented fruits and vegetables. It is true that you can make vegetable ferments without the use of whey (by adding additional sea salt), but it is better to use this nutrient-packed ingredient. Fruit ferments always need whey. Whey is made from farm fresh raw milk. However, if you don’t have access to fresh milk, whey can also be made from plain, whole fat, organic yogurt. 
I’m going to assume that not everyone has access to fresh, raw milk, so today I will share an easy recipe for making whey. This recipe will also give you about 2 cups of cultured cream cheese - it is so scrumptious!
Whey and Cream Cheese
based off the recipe found in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon
Makes about 3 cups whey and 1 cup cream cheese
2 quarts plain, whole fat, organic yogurt
1. Line a large strainer set over a bowl with a clean dish towel.
2. Pour in the yogurt, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 12-24 hours. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer.
3. After several hours, tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Hang the towel with the milk solids from a cabinet knob, or tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of the container so that more whey can drip out.
4. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready. Store whey in a Ball jar and the cream cheese in a covered glass container. The cream cheese keeps for about a month if refrigerated and the whey will last about 6 months.

That's it! Having whey on hand will enable you to make scrumptious ferments. Up next, is a recipe for lacto-fermented salsa! Stay tuned...

This was entered into Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday,  Nourishing Gourmet's Pennywise Platter, and Real Food Forager's Fat Tuesday.


  1. Do you have any good recipes to share how you use the Whey? I just made my first batch today and wondering what exactly to do with it?

    1. Yes, I do! I haven't had a chance to post them all on here... YET, but I do have one. It's my post for lacto-fermented salsa: Also, if you eat oatmeal in the mornings, you should soak it overnight in a mixture of whey, hot water, and a tiny bit of sea salt (1 cup oats, 1 cup warm filtered water, 2 tablespoons whey, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt - this feeds 4). I mostly use whey for our ferments. I will soon be posting recipes for cortido (Latin American sauerkraut), and perhaps a chutney (fruit ferment) or two. Is there anything specifically that sounds more appealing to you? Remember, also, that whey will last a good six months in the fridge... so at least there is no rush! :)

  2. It is not the same as the powdered, unhealthy, and denatured whey, which is often sold in health food stores.

  3. How to convert home made liquid whey into powder form without dehyrator

  4. Hi Amanda! Do you have a recipe for using whey to make sauerkraut?

  5. Oh my gosh, I had no idea that whey could last 6 months in the refrigerator! I made some farmhouse cheese the 2 weeks ago and I've been wondering what I could do with the whey. I hated to just pour it down the drain since that would be a waste.
    Many thanks for the suggestions! :)

  6. I have more whey coming out of my ears that I do kefir going into my belly.
    I have a question it may sound stupid what is the difference between fermented and pickled vegetables. I don't think I have experienced fermented vegetables? Other than grapes & hops.

  7. I just made Greek Yogurt with whole milk (not raw) that tastes like cream cheese, just not as thick. I used 1/2 gal milk, drained it for 8 hours and got 4 cups of whey. I have reserved it in the fridge. Can I use it in your fermenting recipes?