If you make cheese, or Greek yogurt, or any number of other dairy ferments, you’ve no doubt been left staring at a pot of lovely light green whey. What to do with it? Perhaps you’ve heard strange rumors; should you put this whey in sauerkraut? Turn it into soda, or put it in soups or bread? Sit on a tufted footstool and eat it, wary of spiders?
Well, as it turns out, there are different kinds of whey, and therefore different applications that are suitable for using it. So first, determine what sort of whey you have.
Whey left over from making yogurt, or hard cheeses, is still biologically active, whereas whey left over from making mozzarella, or farmer’s cheese, is not. Because the processes in making yogurt and most hard cheeses only heats the milk and cultures to around 100°F, the live active active cultures are left alive and intact. The whey left over from these types of cheesemaking is suitable for all sorts of uses which take advantage of it’s “culturally active” properties. This is the whey you want to use if you want to initiate fermentation, in such applications as beet kvass, sauerkraut or other vegetable ferments, or bread making. (Please note that you do not *need* whey to make kraut, or indeed any of these ferments; it is simply another time-tested tradition, with it’s own benefits and considerations.)
Whey that has drained from other cheeses, such as farmer’s cheese, or mozzarella, will have been heated to a higher temperature, and may have had acids such as vinegar or lemon juice added to it; this whey, although it is not probiotic, still contains nutrition and has several other uses, which we explore below.
Soaking lentils (or any legume) in whey before cooking makes them more digestible; the lentils begin to germinate, and in the process, the vitamin content increases. Vitamin C, B2, and B6, are all increased, as well as carotene. Further, the enzyme inhibitors that are present in unsprouted lentils are neutralized, and other enzymes that aid digestion are activated, making them easier to digest.
These are benefits that accrue whether the lentils are soaked in water or in whey; however, soaking the lentils in whey adds another layer of nutrition. The whey adds protein, and a complex, subtle flavor to the lentils.
Turmeric is a delicious and powerful root, which is also anti-inflammatory and a digestive aid; it is added at the end of the process to preserve its vitality.
Time: Over night soaking, plus 1 hour
Pour your dried lentils into a bowl and cover with cool water or leftover whey. Soak overnight.
The following day, rinse and drain lentils. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed stock pot, heat ghee over medium heat. Add onions and sweat until translucent.
Add celery and carrots to onions and sauté 5 minutes.
Add lentils, whey and spices to sautéed vegetables. Stir to combine.
Simmer lentils gently 40 minutes or until tender. Add more whey or water if needed to achieve desired texture.
It may seem strange, to think of whey as a drink, but in fact is a nutritious, beautiful liquid that can be utilized to make any number of healthful and delicious drinks. All of the flavors described here can be altered or substituted to suit your individual taste. This whey lemonade is perfect for kids or adults in the summer; light, refreshing, and secretly full of vitamins, minerals, even protein. Enjoy!
Strain the whey left over after making mesophilic cheeses, to remove any stray curds or milk solids.
Dilute the whey with 1 cup cool, fresh water
Add maple syrup and lemon juice to taste.
Serve over ice, with mint leaves as a garnish, if you’re feeling real fancy.
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