Nora Singley, former cheesemonger at Murray’s and resident curd nerd at TheKitchn.com, discusses discovering the pleasures of drinking Whey. I’ve had Rivella, the swiss whey soda, it’s pretty tasty. And of course Yoohoo is probably the most famous American whey-based drink.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been making a lot of ricotta for a project at my full-time job. As a result, there’s been a lot of whey floating around. When faced with my first windfall, a coworker told me that dumping the whey is a sin, and that I should throw some on ice and drink up. And now, I’ve got a big problem.
Consider this my official plea to cheesemakers: Forget about cheese. Start selling whey.
I’m beginning to panic a bit. See, my ongoing stash of whey has become a very real part of my diet. Ever since that first glass a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been drinking it every day. It’s satiating, slightly creamy, and refreshing; a satisfying snack, in liquid form.
And now I fear that I’m going to become a ricotta-maker on a regular basis not for the ricotta itself, but for the whey. It could be worse— or dare i say, whey worse — but with my ricotta project nearly over, the end of my whey stash is terrifyingly in close sight. Buying ricotta is easy. But whey? I have yet to see it on my grocery shelves.
There is one irony here, which is that she is finding herself with all this left over whey as a result of making ricotta, because in my own cheesemaking, when I make ricotta, it’s usually Whey Ricotta, one of the most common uses for the left over liquid from other cheese makes, and also considered by some the best ricotta, more delicate and fluffy. In fact, the name, “Ricotta”, is Italian for “recooked”, and specifically comes from the fact that it’s made from recooked whey.
The down side, if ricotta is your specific goal, is that the final output is pretty low from pure whey, which is why whole milk ricotta’s are popular (you can also add milk to whey to boost the production). Plus if you don’t already have another cheese make in progress you don’t have a source for the whey.
But if you do find yourself with some of this extra elixir, throw it on ice! Or make more ricotta, your choice, just don’t throw it away.
(Photo ©2013 TheKitchn.com)
Culture Magazine celebrates that most wonderful of fresh cheeses, Ricotta, and explores your options for finding it — fresh and aged, and from cow, goat or sheep — made by cheese makers across the country:
Remains of the Whey
Ricotta used to be a cheese made from leftovers—now it’s dairy deluxe
Fresh, creamy ricotta is the simplest of cheeses, yet one of the most challenging to bring to market.
Unlike other cheeses, it peaks on day one and is never more seductive than when first scooped from the vat. How can a cheesemaker hope to deliver that taste experience to consumers when the cheese still has to be packed and shipped?
In recent years, a handful of American cheesemakers from Rhode Island to California have embraced that mission, with impressive results. Most of these artisan ricottas don’t travel far beyond their place of origin, ensuring that an all-important quality—freshness—isn’t compromised. Those of us with a vivid taste memory of ricotta from vacations in Naples or Tuscany can now re-create the experience with domestic products that hit close to the mark.
Read the full story here, including an extensive list of cheese makers producing Ricotta’s.
On Food52.com, a great article about what to do with all that left over Whey. In addition to the expected suggestions (eg make Ricotta) there are some unique and wonderful ideas in the list:
• Make ricotta. While our go-to recipe for ricotta uses milk and buttermilk, many ricotta recipes call for whey. Try this recipe from our friends at Serious Eats.
• Bake something delicious. The Prairie Homestead suggests substituting whey for milk or water in breads, cakes, and biscuits. According to a Chowhound user, the active cultures in the whey add depth to the flavor of breads, and the acids contribute to a softer crumb.
• Cook up some polenta or rice. FOOD52 member AntoniaJames suggests using leftover whey to make polenta for a lighter, more tender texture. You can season your whey and use it as a liquid for cooking polenta or rice, with creamy, comforting results.
• Try out some Iranian recipes. FOOD52 editor Nozlee Samadzadeh recently taught us about an Iranian type of fermented whey called kashk, which comes both in dry and liquid forms. It can be found in many Middle Eastern stores and has a tangy taste and thick texture like a cross between yogurt and sour cream.
• Give lacto-fermentation a whirl. FOOD52’s Christina DiLaura likes to use whey to jump-start the fermentation process in foods like kimchi and chutney.
Check out the full list and links to recipes and resources here.
(Photos ©2012 and courtesy of Food52.com)
Photo ©2012 NPR.org
Via NPR.org, a look at the many — and multiplying — uses of Whey, the cloudy liquid byproduct of the cheesemaking process (with requisite hi-larious word play on the word “whey”):
When you open a tub of yogurt, do you pour off that cloudy layer of liquid that collects on the top? If so, you’re not just wasting nutritious protein and lactose – you’re tossing out what some scientists see as a valuable raw material.
Strange though it might seem, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering in Germany announced this week that they’re turning whey into plastic-like films.
Their material is really the whey protein, the same stuff you might mix into a post-workout smoothie. When heated in a process called “denaturing,” the protein molecules change shape. When sprayed onto a surface, such as plastic wrap, they form a thin, flexible layer that helps protect food from oxygen and moisture, the researchers say.
So how did this mild-mannered substance go from pig food to plastic wrap?