Whey is the yellowish liquid left over when you make a cultured milk product such as kefir, cheese, yogurt, or sour cream, but did you know that there are actually two kinds of whey?
Sweet whey is the liquid that is produced when making renneted hard cheese like cheddar or Swiss cheese. Acid whey (also known as "sour whey") is a byproduct of acid types of cultured dairy products such as cottage cheese or strained yogurt.
Both of these types of whey contain mostly water, lactose (milk sugar), and some proteins, although sweet whey contains more proteins. Sweet whey and acid whey also contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium, in varying amounts.
You can use sweet whey for anything you would use acid whey for, but acid whey can’t always be used in the same way that sweet whey is. Acid whey is more of an environmental hazard, because it deprives its surroundings of oxygen due to the bacteria it contains. But overall, whey is a valuable byproduct and has many uses, sweet or acid.
Uses for Acid Whey
- Use it to soak grain for making breads.
- Use it to lacto-ferment vegetables such as sauerkraut and other veggies, or to inoculate your next batch of yogurt!
- Feed it to animals such as chickens, pigs, cows, cats, and dogs. They may like sweet whey better, but whichever kind you feed them, be careful, because it can upset their digestion if they consume too much.
- You can even use whey (acid or sweet) on your hair. It is a simple cleaner that can be used on hair that isn’t very dirty. Just massage it in and rinse it out with water. Doing this is a great hair rejuvenator, and adds body to your hair. You can also use it as a conditioner by leaving it in for about 15 minutes before rinsing it out.
Uses for Sweet Whey
- Reconstitute fruit juice to add nutritional value.
- Make whey lemonade.
- Add it to smoothies and shakes to provide more vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
- It can be used to cook potatoes, rice, grits, pasta, and grains. It does change the flavor a bit, but you will probably like it!
- Drink it. A lot of people love it and you might, too. It’s worth a try!
- Make whey cheeses!
- Make lacto-fermented drinks such as ginger ale and limeades.
- Whey is great for your skin! Put a few cupfuls in your bathwater.
- Put it in your compost pile. It adds nutrients and makes thick, black compost. (Reminder: you can only do this with sweet whey!)
Whey can be strained through one layer of cheesecloth and placed in a covered container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. It can also be frozen and used at a much later date. Any way you decide to use this beneficial byproduct, be happy in the knowledge that you are adding some amazing extra nutrition to your diet and avoiding unneeded waste.
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