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19 Excellent Uses for Leftover Whey

Whey is the byproduct of making cheese, yogurt, labneh, or other cultured dairy products.

If you’ve recently made yogurt or cheese, you probably have a large bowl of whey, and now you’re wondering what to do with it.

Whey is the yellowish byproduct of all kinds of Lacto-fermented and cultured dairy products.

Powdered whey protein is expensive and often not that great for you. Fresh whey is much healthier than its powdered and processed counterpart. Whey has many amino acids, specifically the nine essential amino acids which make up a complete protein.

Rather than dumping that bowl full of yellow gold down the sink, put it to good use, and you’ll reap the benefits in the kitchen and in your beauty regimen.

Depending on what you made you will have either sweet or acid whey.

Generally, sweet whey is what you have left when making cheese that uses rennet – such as this wonderful homemade mozzarella.

Acid whey is the byproduct of processes that use bacteria to ferment the dairy, like when making homemade yogurt or sour cream. (Give our easy homemade yogurt recipe a try, you’ll love it!)

You usually end up with quite a bit of whey when you process dairy yourself.

So, what do you do with whey?

Lots of things!

Drinkable Whey

1. Drink it.

Whey is good for your gut health and has probiotics. If you don’t want to take the time to create a fermented drink like kombucha or switchel, you can drink whey.

Drink it straight if you want a tart and bracing start to your day. Take a ‘shot’ each morning, much like you would Fire Cider.

2. Smoothies

Add whey to any smoothie for a little extra protein.

If you don’t like the taste of whey on its own, but you want the benefits, add a ¼ cup of sweet or acid whey in with your morning smoothie and blend away.

3. When life gives you whey, make lemonade.

Add whey to lemonade to make this hot weather drink a microbiome treat that’s good for your gut health. Acid whey works best for lemonade and adds a pleasant pucker.

4. Ginger ale

In the summer, I love making homemade soda, and ginger ale always tops my list for ease and flavor. It’s so enjoyable and easy to make and you can do so much with the ginger ale. Mix up this fantastic ginger ale with your leftover whey. Yes, you can make delicious soda at home without a fancy soda maker.

5. Whiskey and Whey

Skip the egg whites and use whey in your cocktails

You can even use whey in cocktails. Try it in a whiskey sour or an old-fashioned instead of egg whites. As the popularity of craft distilleries and cocktails grows, egg whites are returning as an emulsifier in cocktails. Whey is an excellent alternative if you don’t wish to use raw egg in your drinks.

6. Fire Cider

Take your fire cider to a whole other level by adding ½ cup of whey when you make it. Cold and flu season won’t stand a chance when you’re taking this fantastic health tonic! Check out our classic fire cider tonic tutorial.

Be like Little Miss Muffet and Eat Your Curds and Whey

7. Better broth

If you’re making broth, don’t forget the whey.

Whey adds flavor and extra protein to your homemade broth. Add a cup or two or use it as your primary liquid instead of water.

8. Make breakfast better

Skip the water and make grits with whey for a flavor-packed and extra-nourishing start to your day.

9. Fermented pickles

Whey is used in tons of Lacto-fermented pickle recipes!

Whey is often used in the starter for all sorts of Lacto-fermented foods: pickled carrots, sauerkraut, pickled radishes. If you can pickle it, you can use whey. Give these awesome Lacto-fermented dill garlic pickles a try. Try these if you want pickles that aren’t as salty as those with a salt-based brine.

10. Stir fry the right whey

Sorry, I can’t help myself when it comes to a good, er bad, pun. Add a splash of whey when you stir-fry veggies to give them extra flavor and depth.

11. Make amazing mayo

Use whey to make some incredible mayonnaise. If you’ve never made mayo yourself, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is yet another example of a food that’s so much better when made from scratch.

12. Rice

Swap out water for whey when you make rice to give plain white rice a flavor makeover and to add extra protein.

13. Pizza Dough

If you want incredible homemade pizza dough, I can let you in on two secrets. 1. Use whey instead of water. 2. Use 00 flour. With these two tips in your pizza making arsenal, pizza night will never be the same.

14. Ricotta Cheese

If you’ve just made a batch of easy mozzarella cheese, save your whey and make ricotta. It only takes a little more time, and you’ll get two kinds of cheese from one gallon of milk!

15. Butter

You can use sweet whey to make butter. Simply let the whey sit until the cream rises to the top. Skim off the cream and easily make butter.

What NOT to do with whey.

One thing you don’t want to use whey for is soaking dry beans. I’ve seen this method suggested a number of times. However, whey is acidic, even sweet whey. Soaking beans in an acid will actually make them tougher, rather than helping them to soften.

Use whey as part of your beauty routine.

16. Facial toner

Use acid whey to tone and balance your face. Dab it on with a cotton ball after you’ve washed your face in the morning and before you moisturize. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

17. Whey hair rinse

Save that liquid gold to use as a hair rinse for beautifully smooth and shiny hair. This is especially important if you are using baking soda to wash your hair. The pH needs to be balanced out and acid whey can help.

Whey in the garden

18. Feed our plants

Use your whey to nourish acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, blueberries, and tomatoes.

19. Compost it

If you don’t use it for anything else, be sure to add your leftover whey to your compost. It’s full of microbes and will help along the health of your compost pile.

Whey is described as a byproduct, but there are so many great uses for it. You may find yourself making cheese or yogurt more often so that you don’t run out of whey. It’s a wonderful kitchen staple to have on hand.

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Tracey Besemer

Hey there, my name is Tracey. I’m the editor-in-chief here at Rural Sprout.

Many of our readers already know me from our popular Sunday newsletters. (You are signed up for our newsletters, right?) Each Sunday, I send a friendly missive from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s a bit like sitting on the front porch with a friend, discussing our gardens over a cup of tea.

Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 18 years.

I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead, where I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.

I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.

Whether it was pressing apples in the fall for homemade cider, trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, or canning everything that grew in the garden in the summer - there were always new adventures with each season.

As an adult, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. And I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.

These days, I tend to be almost a homesteader.

I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood as they suit me.

I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.

I’ve always had a garden, even when the only space available was the roof of my apartment building. I’ve been knitting since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. If you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. And I can’t go more than a few days without a trip into the woods looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.

You can follow my personal (crazy) homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram as @aahomesteader.

Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,