Curds and Whey

25 May

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Many fermentation recipes involve the use of whey.  This is not the powder supplement you get in the stores.  Don’t try the recipes with that stuff:  the powder is not a living food with active enzymes and cultures, and it won’t make things ferment.  For another matter, I don’t advise eating whey powder at all.  It’s a processed food that’s been killed of any of its nutritive value besides being protein.

Whey is the liquid byproduct that comes from making cheese or many other cultured dairy products.  One of the easiest ways to get whey (no pun intended) is by straining yogurt.  This is very easy:  Take a container of plain yogurt, one with live-active cultures, and place it in a kitchen towel-lined strainer.  Fold the towel over the yogurt to protect it from dust and bugs, and put the strainer over a bowl.  Let the yogurt sit for a few hours or overnight, if you wish.  Yes, at room temperature.  It’s fine, really, I swear.  Yellow liquid will pass through the towel into the bowl.  That’s whey!  The stuff left in your towel is the curds.

Whey dripping from the towel-lined strainer to the bowl.

Straining turns your regular yogurt to the consistency of fancy Greek yogurt.  If you strain it long enough, it will become more like creme fraiche.  To make your curd the most dry, you can tie the ends of the towel around a wooden spoon or some other long skinny thing, and then hang that over a bigger pot.  Without the strainer to support the getup, gravity helps release even more of the liquid.   Keep the straining yogurt away from potential predators, for instance, one Very Interested Cat.

Very Interested Cat promises to disrupt my whey-making process.

Whey can last about 6 months in the fridge.  The curds may last a month.  Smell the whey, and if it smells “off” that’s a good measure of when to throw it out.  The curds are visually obvious:  they will get mold if you let them go.   Stay tuned for whey recipes on my blog in the future.  In the meantime, eat your curds on toast, with chives or jam.

2 Responses to “Curds and Whey”


  1. Beet Kvass and Lacto-Fermentation Basics « Brooklyn Alewife - June 21, 2012

    […] 1/4 c whey (see my post on curds and whey) , 1T sea salt, and fill the rest of the jar with filtered water. The newly combined […]

  2. Cranberry Chutney « Brooklyn Alewife - January 5, 2013

    […] c yogurt whey (see my curds and whey post for details on obtaining whey.  Do NOT use powdered whey!  You need an active culture as […]

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