In every single cheese making class I’ve ever taught, I am asked: “What can you do with the whey?”
Whey is the byproduct of making cheese, it’s the yellowish liquid that separates out from the thick, white curd. And, my usual answer is: “By the time I’m done making cheese, I’m DONE cooking. I usually feed it back to the animals, the goats and chickens love it…not the dogs though, it gives them diarrhea. BBBuuuutttt, you can bake with it, put it in smoothies, drink it, soak then cook grains or beans in it….”
And now, I’ve added, “You can also ferment with it,” to my answer.
Fer-WHAT with it??
Ferment. Thanks to my friend Karen, I now own Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. An incredible down home, back to our roots (sometimes our ancient roots) cookbook and source of incredible information and education.
It is there that I am learning about… fermenting… with whey.
For Sauerkraut, start with 1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded.
I kind of ribbon sliced mine into a big bowl. If I used my cheese shredder with it, it came out way too fine.
Next, add 1 Tbsp caraway seeds, 1 Tbsp sea salt, and 4 Tbsp whey. In Nourishing Traditions, it even gives you a recipe for making whey. But, if you are already a cheese or yogurt maker, just use the whey from that.
I used whey I had saved from making feta cheese. (Another post for another time….absolutely one of the most creamy, delicious cheeses I’ve ever made.)
Then, get a pounder. I used my Vitamix black thing. You can use anything firm and heavy that will be good at pounding. Your fist might not work though.
Pound for ten minutes to release all the juices. Sit somewhere in the sunshine, where you can enjoy the view and be thankful that you’re pounding cabbage. For Ten Minutes. (Don’t give up here…I almost did, but it’s worth it…keep going!)
Now, pack it tightly into a jar. Mine ended up filling up one and a half of these jars. It’s OK if you have only a 1/2 filled jar. It didn’t seem to do anything to the final end product. (Different from canning, where you want to have a specific amount of space at the top of the jar.)
Cover it tightly and….contrary to popular thought, let it sit out on the counter. For 3 or 4 days.
WHAT???? But, the USDA says anything out on the counter for more than 2 hours must be thrown away! How can I let something sit there for days????? And I don’t even have to can it???
You can. The salt, the acidity of the whey and the fermentation process are what’s important here in preserving the cabbage. I am still learning all the science behind it, but, throughout history (before canning was developed), food was preserved through fermentation.
It’s OK. You’ll live through it.
So, after 3 or 4 days (I gave mine 4 days because we keep our house pretty cold…do 3 days if your house is warmer or it’s summer), remove the lid.
BUT DON’T REMOVE THE LID BEFORE THEN! Fermentation is an anaerobic process. If you let any in any oxygen in the first 3-4 days, you’ll ruin the process. I know it’s tempting, you almost can’t even WAIT 3 or 4 days. But, you must. Trust me. And trust Sally Fallon.
Now that I have authorized you to remove the lid: Look at it! Smell it! It’s bubbling, right?? Cool! And, it smells sauerkrauty!!! Now, put it in a cool, dark place. The only place I have like that is my refrigerator at the moment, so that’s where both jars went. The flavor develops if it is left to age for 6 months, but ours lasted a meer 2 weeks before the last morsel was eaten. No aging here…it was too good.
Next time, I’ll make enough for an army so we’ll have some that’ll make it to the 6 month mark!
So, there you go. One thing you can do with whey.
– The Goat Cheese Lady