If you always dreamed of making fermented foods and beverages, this “How to” tutorial is for you. What you need when you want to soak and ferment whole grains, to make ginger ale, Sauerkraut and other fermented foods, is called whey. There are other methods of fermentation but lactofermentation will give you great results.
Whey is also called milk serum and it is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. Sweet whey is manufactured during the making of hard cheeses like cheddar or Swiss cheese. Acid whey, also called “sour whey”, is manufactured during the making of dairy products like cottage cheese or strained yogurt.
Lactofermentation is a process that enables to pre-digest whole grains and remove the anti-nutrients (phytates). This faciliatates absorption of the nutrients present in whole grains.
Lacto fermented foods and beverages also provide us with the enzymes that we need and help us have a healthy gut. Whey was used before “modern” times as a natural food preservative.
To make whey, you need raw milk or at least organic whole milk, buttermilk, or real yogurt (with live bacteria). I have access to organic buttermilk, so this is what I use. Just do with what you have where you live.
The process is very simple and you will get both whey and fresh cream cheese.
- Step 1. Place the buttermilk in a glass bowl, cover and leave at room temperature. You should leave it until it separates, and this takes about 2 to 3 days.
When it separates, you’ll notice a yellowish liquid (the whey proteins), and a white substance below (the cheese).
- Step 2. Take another glass bowl, and place a colander on top of it. Place a cloth in the colander (it should not be too thin). Pour the content of the first bowl into the colander. Cover.
The whey will drip into the bowl, while the cream cheese will remain in the cloth in the colander.This process takes a few hours.
- Step 3. When you see that there are no more drops, you can now pour the whey in a glass jar and put the jar in the fridge.
We’re not done yet; we now need to drain the remaining whey. To do this, take the cloth and close it with some kitchen string, attach it to a wooden spatula, and place over a glass bowl. See picture above. The whey will drip into the bowl again.
After a couple or more hours, all the whey is in the glass bowl, and you can now add it to the jar in the fridge.
- Step 4. The last step is to take the cream cheese and place it in another jar, and place in the fridge.
You now have whey to soak grains and prepare delicious fermented foods and beverages, and you also have a delicious homemade cream cheese!
Whey can keep for about 6 months in the fridge, so don’t worry about not using it right away. To make ginger ale or to soak grains, you’ll only use one or a few tablespoons of whey, so making a pint-size jar will enable you to make a lot of different preparations, and is really worth the time.