Cheese Making

Whey basics: cheesemaking 101

You probably remember the story of Little Miss Muffet and how she ate her curds and whey. Of course, that might have made sense to children centuries ago, when they weren't raised on Dunkaroos and Fruit Roll-Ups. So, chances are you probably repeated that without ever knowing what curds and whey were.

What is Whey?

Whey is a byproduct of strained yogurt and cheese making. What happens is, during the cheese making process, milk is soured either by an acid or rennet, and from that milk separates curds (the milk protein casein) and whey. It's essentially just water, except it also contains lactose and whey protein.

NOTE: Because it contains lactose, those of you that are lactose intolerant should be extra careful.

Depending on how you are separating the whey from the cheese, you will end up with one of two different types:

Sweet whey is the byproduct of cheeses made with rennet. Sweet whey has a sweet taste, so it tends to be a bit more versatile than sour whey.

Sour whey (Acid whey) is the byproduct of cheeses and strained yogurt made from lemon or vinegar. Sour whey can often adversely affect the taste of some foods, so you should be careful how you use it. It’s generally best used as a replacement for water in doughs and baked goods.

Valençay - Leftover whey by Rebecca Siegel

Whey is very versatile and can be used for many different purposes, instead of being thrown away. Read the following post for more information about how to use your whey: