Whey has many health benefits including beneficial cultures that aid in digestion by providing "good" bacteria to the gut. Whey is also an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is an important nutrient for those of us wishing to build or repair muscle tissue and also contributes to the prevention of atrophy of muscular cells.
I always keep whey on hand as it is an excellent starter culture for lacto-fermented veggies and fruits, soaking grains, and as a starter for beverages. I typically make whey from yogurt or fresh raw milk. If you have access to fresh raw milk, this is best.
You can use homemade yogurt or good quality organic plain yogurt. If using raw milk, simply place it in a clean glass container and allow to stand covered with a lid at room temperature for 1-4 days until it separates (the amount of time will depend on how warm your kitchen is). The naturally occurring bacteria will turn it into cheese and whey on its own. If using yogurt, no advance preparation is necessary.
All you’ll need is a large bowl, a large strainer that rests over the bowl, a plastic spoon, and a cheesecloth or thin cloth napkin. Please be sure that your napkin is super clean and free of any lint or leftover soap residue.
Line a large strainer over a bowl with a clean cotton napkin or cheesecloth.
Pour in the yogurt or separated milk. The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer. Be sure the bowl is deep enough to allow the strainer to hang over the bowl so that the curds don’t end up standing in the whey. Cover with a plate and let stand at room temperature for several hours (longer for yogurt) until all the whey has drained.
The whey will end up in the bowl and you’ll have a soft cheese left in the cloth. Don’t throw this away! Most of us are familiar with the old nursery rhyme, "Little Miss Muffet"…eating her curds and whey. Well this is what she was eating! Use the cheese as a spread. To give it some flavor, add garlic, chives, onion, and spices, along with a bit of salt and pepper. Pour the whey into a glass jar and cover tightly. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps approximately one month and the whey for about six months.
If you’re interested in making your own yogurt, follow this link to an excellent tutorial.
As always, bon appétit!