Re-purposing in the Kitchen
Today’s post continues along on the theme of re-purposing kitchen leftovers that would otherwise be tossed. Last time we talked about making crackers from your left over un-refreshed sourdough starter. (Find that sourdough cracker recipe here.) Today we take a look at how to use whey that’s left over from yogurt making. If you’re curious about how to make your own homemade yogurt, take a look at this post. It’s surprisingly simple!
I don’t know about you, but when I can take something that would otherwise be tossed, and re-purpose it for something tasty, I feel particularly fulfilled in the kitchen 🙂 I’d love to hear about any creative re-purposing you’ve tried! Leave a comment if you have something to share!
Ideas for Re-Purposing Whey
There are are actually several ways you can use the leftover whey from yogurt making (pun intended ;P). I’ve experimented with it in my baking, and even tried making ricotta cheese!
How to Use Whey to Make Ricotta Cheese
There are many ways to make ricotta cheese. In the method that uses yogurt whey, the whey is used as the acid instead of lemon juice or vinegar. Very simply, add 2 cups of whey to 1/2 gallon of 2% or whole milk, and heat until the temperature reaches 180F-190F. Let sit for 15 minutes, and then strain. Simple! Here is a link to some ricotta cheese making resources if that’s something you are interested in exploring further.
How to Use Whey in Your Baking
Using whey as a substitute for other liquid/dairy in some of my baking has also proved tasty. As one example, I was making a cobbler that called for milk in the batter topping. I hadn’t saved enough milk aside, so I ended up substituting in about half of the volume with whey. And you know what? It was delicious! I was serving it to some dinner guests, and they wanted to know what was in it that made it so tasty… 😉 Whey will also make a good substitute for buttermilk in any baked goods!
How to Use Whey as a Marinade
Finally I wanted to explore in a little further detail a simple and practical use for whey – as a marinade for meat.
Marinades: The Basics
A common method for flavoring meat is marinating in a solution that is typically acidic, along with aromatics, fats, and sometimes sweet. The mom of one of my college friends used to always tell us that a marinade should have three components. With this key, you could make any number of creative and effective marinades. Ready?
- Something acidic, to help tenderize the meat and open it up for flavors. (Think vinegar or citrus juice.)
- A fat, to help transport the flavors into the meat. (Think healthy oils like EVOO, coconut, or avocado.)
- A sweet, to keep the flavors locked in. (Think honey, fruit juice, fruit nectar, even maple syrup!)
- And a bonus – other aromatics or flavors you want incorporated. (Think fresh herbs, smashed garlic, sliced onion, sliced chilies for some heat, something smokey like chipotle or liquid smoke, other spices like curry, cumin, garam masala. The sky is really the limit here!)
I’m not sure if there is scientific evidence to back this up, but I do think that if you utilize these three to four types of ingredients you will end up with a winner every time. And it gives you a basic recipe to follow while leaving you with full flexibility on the flavor profiles! Perfect for a budding creative cook 🙂
Marinades: How to Use Whey
So how does whey fit into the picture? Well it turns out that whey from yogurt making is reasonably acidic. Once I learned that it got my wheels turning about where I could re-purpose an acidic ingredient like that. Since marinades require an acidic element, using the whey as a base for a marinade was a natural fit.
Also, to boost my confidence on combining whey with meats, I had read in the book Yogurt Culture (a great reference for making and using yogurt!), a suggestion for poaching fish in whey. So I figured combining whey with meat was reasonable and not likely to turn into a kitchen a disaster 😉
I’ve tried whey as a marinade now with both pork and chicken, and really like the flavor complexity it adds to the meat. It brings something like a nuttiness to the dish. It also does seem to help with tenderizing and moisture retention, so I consider it a kitchen experiment success! Check out a few of the flavor combinations I’ve tried in the recipe below. Give one a try yourself, or make a few modifications and experiment!
Pork #1 - The Basic
- 2 cups whey
- ½ tbsp peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-6 pork chops
Pork #2 - A Variation on Pork Souvlaki
- 1½ cups whey
- ½ cup EVOO
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1½ pounds pork shoulder or pork butt (chopped into 1-inch cubes)
Chicken #1 - South American Aromatics
- 2 cups whey
- ½ onion (sliced)
- 2 cloves garlic (smashed and skins removed)
- ½ cup cilantro (roughly chopped)
- 1 lime (cut into quarters)
- 1 tsp salt
- 4-6 chicken breasts
- Serve with Chimichurri sauce (recipe follows)
Chimichurri sauce (modified from this recipe at SimplyRecipes.com)
- Instead of 1 cup parsley, use 1/3 cup cilantro and 2/3 cup parsley
- Substitute one freshly diced jalapeno for the red pepper flakes
Chicken #2 - Herb Infused
- 2 cups whey
- ½ cup EVOO
- Fresh herbs (about 10 sprigs roughly chopped (thyme and oregano work well))
- ½ tbsp peppercorns
- 4-6 chicken breasts (substitute twice as many chicken tenders if desired)
Chicken #3 - Yogurt Curry
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- ½ cup whey (add whey until yogurt is thinned but still has some consistency to it)
- 3 tbsp curry spice (I like Rogan Josh but any will do)
- 4-6 chicken breasts or thighs
Select the marinade from above you would like to use, and follow these instructions:
- Mix all marinade ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
- Remove meat from packaging and pat dry.
- If any excess fat is present, trim.
- Combine meat and marinade into a ziploc bag. Ensure meat is covered well.
- Marinade at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning meat at least once.
- Heat grill to high (~450°F), then turn down to medium-low for cooking.
- Add meat to grill. If no salt was used in the marinade, season the meat with salt and pepper as you place onto the grill.
- Grill meat til done, cooking to an internal temperature of 145°F for pork, and 165°F for chicken.
Thank you Kristi for your very clear instructions. My husband showed me about 2 cups of whey that he had drained off of yougart. Next time i will save and use it!
Thank you Bette! Happy to provide some useful tips!
Hi Kristi, I don’t specifically have whey but i think i can ‘make’ some using raw cheese broken up in water (where i live i can’t buy raw milk) which i use to overnight ferment my pancake batter… but now i am looking for a way/whey to marinate chicken to dehydrate for travel protein.. and in searching, found your post. Thanks so much for putting such goodness ‘out there’ to share!
You are so welcome Dabney! I’m so glad you found my post and were able to get some inspiration from it! 🙂
Thank you for your ideas and inspiration! I appreciate all the variants you have listed. I just started cheesemaking, so have a ton of whey to use up. Currently marinating a beef heart in whey and asian flavors.
Hi Caroline! You’re so welcome, I’m glad you found some inspiration here. Would love to know how your beef heart turns out. The asian flavor combination is a great idea, and seems like it will pair nicely with the beef 🙂