Wondering how to use up leftover whey from making cheese or strained yogurt? Don’t pour it down the drain! Here are 28 different recipes and ideas for using whey.
Types of whey
Whey is comprised of water, lactose, and whey proteins. The flavor and sourness vary depending on how it was made.
There are essentially three types of whey:
- Acid whey comes from cheese made using citric acid or vinegar. It is very in high lactose (milk sugar) and is quite sour. It cannot be used to make fermented foods.
- Sweet whey is a by-product of making firm cheese. Basically, any cheese that is cultured for less than 3 hours, will have sweet tasting whey right after draining. After that the whey becomes more acidic as the lactose is consumed by the lactobacteria. Storing sweet whey in the fridge will slow the acidification, but only for about 12 hours. It is probiotic and lower in lactose.
- Sour whey is sweet whey that is older than 12 hours, or whey drained from cheeses that have a long culturing period. This includes whey from Greek yogurt, kefir cheese and cottage cheese. It is very acidic and low in lactose.
Here is how to use up leftover whey. I’ve divided it up by the type of whey since they each have their own unique properties.
Recipes and ideas for All types of whey
Soups and Stews
One of the best ways to use up leftover whey is as a broth. Replace up to 1/4 of the broth or water in a recipe with whey. It adds richness, protein, and tanginess that really brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.
Here are three soups that are written to use up leftover whey:
- My kids love macaroni and cheese and replacing the milk with whey results in a slightly tangier cheese sauce. It works for both packaged mac n’ cheese and homemade cheese sauce.
Leftover whey is perfect for any recipe that calls for buttermilk. It’s not as thick as buttermilk, so stick to recipes where the exact amount of liquid doesn’t matter. However, whey certainly works to balance the acids in baking.
Here are a few examples of baked goods that are perfect for whey:
- Oatmeal muffins
- Apple coffee cake
- Soda bread
- Flax seed crackers
- You can also use whey instead of water in any quick-rise yeasted bread recipe. It adds a delicious sourdough-like flavor to the bread.
Whey can be used instead of water for all sorts of treats and desserts. Here are a few examples:
How to use cultured whey (Sweet or Sour)
Sweet or sour whey from making cultured cheese is full of Lacto bacteria. It is perfect for fermenting all sorts of things. Most grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables will ferment faster with a starter.
Around the house
The probiotic culture in whey is useful around the house:
- Water your acid-loving plants (in particular, rhododendrons and blueberries).
- Presoak beans and grains to soften them before cooking.
- Feed it to your dogs/pigs/chickens.
- Make bubble bath. Add a gallon of whey when you fill your tub and it will bubble up! The probiotics are great for your skin.
How to use sweet whey
As a drink
Fresh sweet whey from cheesemaking is actually very sweet. I like to drink it straight or mix it into a yummy beverage.
It is really only sweet for the first few hours, so take a break from cleaning the kitchen and enjoy a hot beverage while your cheese finishes draining.
Here are a few drinks to enjoy!
- Hot chocolate
- Chai tea latte
There are a few kinds of cheese that can be made from fresh sweet whey.