Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Made Curds and Whey

Who knew that Little Ms. Muffet was such a healthy little girl, eating her curds and whey.  I can only hope that someday soon little Henry will be able to enjoy the benefits that homemade whey can provide.

If you had told me a few months ago that I would be making this concoction myself I might not have believed you, it was only when I rigged some cheese cloth to dangle above my counter top that I sat back and laughed at the little house on the prairie-like-homemaker I have quickly become due to Henry's FPIES and our new GAPS diet!

You are mostly likely asking yourself at this point, why in the world would someone want to make homemade curds and whey?  Or maybe you aren't even there yet, maybe you are saying "what in the world is whey anyway?" 

Whey is the liquid that drips off of yogurt when you separate the liquid from the solids.   Whey contains pro-biotics, which are the good bacteria that your gut needs to fight off infection, digest foods and keep you healthy.  These good bacteria are depleted with the use of antibiotics or the insult from stomach viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea.   You can use whey as a starter culture for your homemade yogurt, I have some brewing now.  You can also use a little whey mixed in fresh pressed juices or add it to your broth to add a pro-biotic to the liquids you are drinking.  I made whey mostly as a science experiment, and since my raw milk was tasting a bit sour,  I figured what the hey let's make some whey.  I would not recommend using whey if your child has FPIES to milk proteins as Henry does.  I made it so can use it myself, for my homemade yogurt and for my other children.

Start with raw milk, if you want to know about raw milk check out the Weston A. Price foundation which has lots of good resources about raw milk as well as eating a more healthy diet.   It seemed like it worked best when I used eight day old milk that was a little sour.   Right now I am trying to make yogurt from my fresh milk which was just delivered yesterday and it isn't curdling up like the older milk did.  Apparently you don't have to heat raw milk like you do pasteurized milk because raw milk already has it's own healthy bacteria in it which is not destroyed in the pasteurization process. 

To make whey I first warmed mine raw milk just slightly on the stove, you need to be careful not to overheat it or you'll have a mess on your hands.   After it's warmed, add in your started culture.   For half a gallon of milk you want to add about 1/2 a cup of yogurt, either your own or store bought, organic yogurt.   Mix it thoroughly.  I don't have a yogurt maker, so I just put mine in a stainless steal pot and covered it with aluminum foil.  I had preheated the oven so when I stuck my hand in it, it was just slightly warm.  I then left my stove just barely on, the first setting on my stove is 170, I put it just on, not near the 170, hoping the stove would be somewhere around the recommended 120 degrees.  I checked the milk frequently to make sure it wasn't getting to hot.   If you test it on your wrist it should be just slightly warm.   I have read that you can do the same thing in the crock pot and leave it on overnight.  I left mine in the oven for 24 hours.  I cannot be responsible for yogurt fires or worse, so I would recommend checking on this regularly and not leaving home for long.  Also, make sure your husband knows why the oven is just "slightly" on.  For some reason, the first time I tried this my husband did not know what I was doing.  You would have thought that he would have just shut the stove off or looked inside for that matter and asked me what I was doing.  He says he was washing the stove and "accidentally" turned the stove up to 170 degrees.  The result was overnight my milk burned to a chunky cheese like crisp, and thankful the house didn't burn down in the process, so be careful!

The first time I did this I didn't have a lot of milk to start with. The end product--yogurt--was lumpy and still rather liquidy, which I have been told happens often with raw milk because it is unpredictable as to what consistency of yogurt you will come up with.  That being said, if I ever perfect the consistency of raw milk yogurt, I will share the secret.

With so much liquid being present and not enough to feed the family, I decided to strain it and make my curds and whey.  This part is pretty easy as well as entertaining.  Just purchase some cheese cloth, you can find it at any grocery store, and line your colander with it.  Put it over a large bowl  so your liquid can fall through.  Put your yogurt in the cheese cloth and let it sit for several hours, the liquid will separate from the solids.


If you want to strain even further to really dry out the curds, then suspend the cheese cloth from something, have fun figuring that out and be careful!

 The end product is curds, which are like cottage cheese, only much better tasting, you can mix with salt, eat plain or mix in fresh fruit.  The whey will keep for several months and can be used to add pro-biotic to your drinks or as a started for your next batch of yogurt or curds and whey.   You can also use a little whey to lacto ferment your own fresh veggies or fruit.  So see how handy a bit of whey can be?   Have fun and enjoy!