5 Uses for Whey
I was a picky kid who ate the same thing day after day.
My mother always kept the fridge stocked with little plastic yogurts. In lean times it was Dannon, in lush times, Brown Cow. Those stacked cups were an essential part of my daily food. But there was one obstacle I had to get through every time I opened one.
I called it “yogurt juice.”
I’d pull the stiff wrapper away from myself so as not to spill the offending liquid all over me. Then I’d proceed to the nearest sink or trash can, and gently tip the cup to let it flow down the drain. Blech.
It would take decades for me to learn that the yogurt juice was whey, a.k.a. liquid gold. And now, whether I’m straining my yogurt to make it thicker or making fresh cheese at home, I value the whey as much as the product I’m trying to create.
Whether you have a little bit of whey or a whole lot more, there are so many uses for it in your kitchen. The whey from cultured processes (like yogurt and cream cheese) is a little different than those without a culture (like homemade ricotta and quick mozzarella), but both are great in all these applications. Whey adds extra protein, nutrition, and flavor to recipes. It is, however, high in lactose, so those who are lactose intolerant should probably avoid it.
Here are a few of my favorite uses for whey:
1. Use whey in place of stock in soups: This is an especially good use for whey that you might have salted in the cheese making process. Whey is a wonderful base for lentil soup, and I also love it as the liquid in potato leek or butternut squash soup. It adds a rich cheesy-ness to the soup.
2. Use whey in yeasted breads and savory quick breads: Simply replace all or some of the milk or water with whey.
3. Turn whey into a quenching drink: This is a great use for any unsalted whey, but yogurt whey is especially delicious here. Combine whey with lime, maple syrup, and a little cardamom. Or just add lemon and sweetener for whey lemonade.
4. Blend whey into smoothies: Whey protein powder has become a smoothie staple because of all the nutrition it adds, but in liquid form it also makes a more delicious smoothie. My favorite combination is whey, blueberries, mint, ginger, and maple syrup.
5. Add whey to ferments: Whey kick starts the fermentation process. Add it to your homemade kimchi, sauerkraut, or any other fermented pickle along with the salt or brine.
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