Whey–2nd Basic of Fermentation

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Whey  2nd Basic of Fermentation

Whey is a basic ingredient for starting the fermentation process in vegetables, and sourdough culture.  It is loaded with many varieties of lactobacilli that help jump start fermented vegetables, and increase the digestibility and nutritional value of cultured milk products, such as yoghurt and kefir.

If you are sensitive or allergic to milk, it is possible that your body may not react to whey and cultured milk products,  This is because fermentation breaks down the parts of milk that many people are allergic to.   It is worth experimenting to see if you can consume these fermented foods without a reaction.

Whey is super easy to make.  Because I have access to a local certified, unpasteurized goat dairy, I often use my own gallon of unpasteurized milk to make yoghurt, to produce for the whey.

Sometimes I use Mountain High brand or another brand of yoghurt from the store as a starter to make my own.  Be aware that you need to get plain yoghurt with nothing added; no sugar, fruit, or any other ingredients.  And somewhere on the package look for a mention that the yoghurt is unpasteurized and full of live cultures.

Another concern is the flavor; if you start with a more sour tasting yoghurt, (like Nancy’s brand or Bulgarian) you will have lots of good cultures in the whey.  And–anything you make out of the strained yogurt (also called Farmer Cheese) that is left over when you strain out the whey, will taste really sour.   I prefer a less sour culture for my Farmer Cheese.

For those who do not eat milk products, Farmer Cheese will be an appreciated gift to anyone who does.  It is also a good addition to the compost pile, as it adds lots of healthful bacteria and minerals to the soil.  What is normally considered the by-product (whey) will be your main focus, and the cheese will become the by-product.


Make Whey

Start with natural, unpasteurized yoghurt that you made yourself with a purchased culture, or from the store.  A large (16 oz) container works best.

Use a large strainer and a large bowl.  Set a piece of butter muslin into the strainer to cover.

Pour the container of yoghurt into the butter muslin covered strainer, set atop the bowl.  In a few minutes, whey will begin to separate and drip through the muslin into the bowl.

Cover the strainer with a napkin or cloth, to keep insects and foreign objects out.

Let it sit and drain overnight, on the counter for 6 to 12 hours.

Pull the butter muslin out, and empty the Farmer Cheese that is left into a bowl, glass jar, or tupperware container.

Pour the yellowish whey left in the bowl, into a glass jar or bottle and store in refrigerator.  It may be clear or a little cloudy.

Use a little whey in every bottle of fermented vegetables, beans, etc. to jump start the fermenting process.  It will make your veggies softer, and add great flavor to the ferments.  It will also speed the process of fermentation.



1 Comment

  • Elisabeth Holmgren January 31, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Hi Kathryn,
    Thank you for providing this excellent information on fermented foods! I am all over it and really appreciate your particular view of the fermentation processes. I rest assured that with the “White Sage Landing” stamp of approval, it is the most biogenetic approach to fermentation.

    I make kefir from unpasturized goat milk rather than making yogurt because in kefir-making there is no heating process that destroys some beneficial live ingredients. The kefir will make excellent whey, too, correct? The resulting “Farmer’s cheese” will be thinner and perhaps more sour, I think.

    Many thanks,


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