The Lost World of Whey

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.


Most of us know that little rhyme by heart from our childhood, but does anyone actually know what curds and whey are?  That information seems to have been lost in our modern world.  Today I am going to help restore our common knowledge regarding curds and whey.  We’ll have to leave a “tuffet” for another day.

Now, we’re quite used to seeing “whey protein” listed in many processed foods.  I know when I first found I had a dairy intolerance, I started paying close attention to those words on packages.  That is not the type of whey that we’re talking about today.  It’s highly processed and not something we want to include in our diets.

I’m going to show you how to get whey which you’ll then be able to use to ferment a variety of vegetables or make fermented condiments, such as mayonnaise.  You’ll see that it’s a super simple process that then allows you to do so many more things in your kitchen!

First, you need to start with either yogurt or kefir.  If you’re on the GAPS diet, this should be homemade and cultured for 24 hours.  If you’re using store bought, be sure to use a high quality yogurt without lots of extra fillers.

Place a small strainer, ideally conically shaped, in a 2-cup pyrex measuring bowl.  Lay a piece of flour sack cloth or a few layers of cheesecloth on top of the strainer.  I prefer to use flour sack cloth; I think it does a better job than cheesecloth and it’s easy to reuse it by tossing it in the washer.

Scoop in yogurt and watch it start dripping.  I give it a little time and then add a bit more yogurt until it’s pretty full on top.  You’ll see a yellowish liquid dripping – that’s the whey! After a while, you might have the whey touching the bottom of the strainer.  I usually pour what’s strained into a jar and then let it continue.


Let it keep straining on your counter for 24 hours.  I put a cloth napkin on top to keep out any dust or bugs.  Once it’s done straining, I pour the rest of the whey into the jar I had already started yesterday.  The stuff left on top is cheese, very similar to cream cheese, but so much better!


Curds and whey!

I’ll be showing you what you can use your whey for over the next few weeks.  You can use the cheese as a spread on crackers or bread as is.  Or you can add a few herbs and spices to your liking.  Or you can sweeten it with a little bit of honey and vanilla and use it as a dip for fruit.

I hope you feel so much more enlightened now about the Miss Muffet rhyme.  I know it was keeping you up at nights, but now you can go make and enjoy your own bowl of curds and whey.  Be sure to watch out for spiders!

My Recipes that Use Whey or Yogurt Cheese
Easy Cultured Mayonnaise
All About Offal: Using Already Prepared Items 

This post is part of Fight Back FridaySunday SchoolMonday ManiaFat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday.


  1. Cherie says:

    Thank you so much for showing us how to do this! I was so confused on where you could get the whey mentioned in some recipes I saw. I can’t wait to make some!

    • Mindy says:

      You’re welcome, Cherie! There can be so many little details to learn as we make the switch to traditional foods. You’ll have to let me know how it works for you!

  2. Amy says:

    Thanks for this post. I just made my first batch last week, but I picked up a few good tips from your post!

    • Mindy says:

      Glad to hear you have already given it a try! I love seeing how other people make these various traditional foods; it seems like you can always pick up a new helpful tip or two!

  3. Bebe says:

    I just have a quick tip to share that I found on Pinterest, a great substitute for cheesecloth that is easy to find: flat cloth diapers!
    I used to work at a high end fabric store that sold cheesecloth by the yard. The real thing, dreamy folds of different cheesecloth for different needs with coarse to fine weave so I am forever spoiled. The idea that the stuff available in grocery and hardware stores is useful for anything is mind boggling and I have been hanging on to my dwindling stash of the good stuff for years. Now I have an affordable, durable and totally satisfactory substitute… and they cost less than flour sack towels.
    Another thing that works good is old t-shirts, if you are really in a bind.

    • Mindy says:

      Thanks for the great tip! I’ll have to give those a try the next time I need more. Do you have any recommendations on an inexpensive source for purchasing cloth diapers? (I don’t have kids and have never looked into them.)

      The cheesecloth you used to have access to sounds amazing. I quickly gave up on the cheesecloth I used to get from the local grocery and hardware stores. It’s just too difficult to use and doesn’t hold up well!

    • such an awesome tip, thanx!

  4. Linda Clement says:

    In case you accidentally gather too much of the stuff, it’s also handy to know it’s high in glycolic acid –which makes for a lovely ‘chemical peel’ skin treatment you can do at home. Add honey and ground oats for a lovely skincare mask…

  5. kelly says:

    I strain mine with a coffee filter, works perfectly! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. I love using it in mayo and other things to extend the life of my home made items (lasts 6 wks)!

  6. Keesha Doss says:

    Yay! This is exactly what I needed! :) Question: can you make whey w/ raw goat milk? That’s what I have (I even have extra because I’ve gotten some from a local family’s farm and frozen it.), but I don’t have any raw yogurt. Is it possible to “get” whey from raw goat milk? (Sorry for the stupid question. This is all so new to me.) :)

    • Mindy says:

      So glad it will help you, Keesha! Yes, you can. I actually did this first with raw goat milk. In fact, I always strain my goat milk yogurt a little bit since it tends to be thinner than cow’s milk yogurt. Enjoy!

      • Keesha Doss says:

        You wouldn’t happen to have a post on how to make yogurt w/ raw goat milk, would you? 😉 By the way, thanks for the reply! :) Thanks for all the help for this newbie! :)

        • Mindy says:

          I don’t at this point, unfortunately! I am planning a series on introducing dairy back into your diet while on the GAPS diet. I’ll be covering how to make everything, too. The yogurt post probably won’t be up for a little while, though. I always make it the same way as cow’s milk yogurt. But don’t expect it to get very thick (although even homemade cow’s milk yogurt doesn’t get super thick either). With goat’s milk yogurt, I always strain it for a bit just like I described in this post. Just be sure to only strain it for a short amount of time, though, or you’ll end up with yogurt cheese!

          I’m glad I can help! It can be a bit overwhelming figuring all of this out at first!

  7. Janelle says:

    Do you have to make the whey with kefir, yogurt or milk that is raw or unpasteurized? Can persons with a dairy sensitvity use whey? If not what are the alternatives?

    • Mindy says:

      You don’t have to make it with raw milk, although that is the best choice. I would look for a low-temp, hopefully grass-fed, milk instead. If it’s ultra-high pasteurization you won’t be able to make yogurt with it.

      Some people with a dairy sensitivity can tolerate it and some can’t. I would recommend trying a small amount and seeing how you react. I’ve had no issue with whey made from raw cow’s milk yogurt. Alternatives will depend on how you’re using the whey. If you’re using it to soak grains or beans, I’d recommend using a different acid, such as apple cider vinegar. If you’re using it to ferment veggies, I’d just skip it and use salt and water only. Or you could get a vegetable culture starter and try that.

      Hope this helps!

  8. Linda says:

    Hello, maybe this is a silly question, but how long does the whey last and how does one store it?

    • Mindy says:

      Not a silly question at all, Linda! I’ve read that it can last up to 6 months in the fridge, but my experience has been typically around 1-2 months. I think it depends on whether you are able to just get the whey or if a little bit of the milk solids from the yogurt get through. It will be very obvious by smell if it’s no longer good.

  9. Stephanie says:

    So this may be a really silly questions but here goes! :) So you say to leave it on the counter for 24 hours to let it strain and then you can use the cheese on top for other things. Doesn’t it go bad if you leave it all out for 24 hours?

    • Mindy says:

      Not a silly question at all, Stephanie! It doesn’t go bad, and it actually produces additional good bacteria in the whey and cheese. Now, one word of caution, I’ve always done this with raw milk. Milk that’s been pasteurized can spoil versus raw milk which doesn’t spoil, but will sour instead. If you’re using low-temp pasteurized milk to do this, you may not want to leave it as long. Or you can always strain it in the fridge just to be safe. Hope this helps!

      • Stephanie says:

        So then you use milk and not yogurt? Now i’m even more confused. I’m really new at all this and i’m trying to make more and more homemade. All i know is that reading labels is scary not knowing what all that crap is….

        • Mindy says:

          Oh, sorry to confuse you. You do use either yogurt or kefir; I’m just talking about the what you’re using as the base of your yogurt or kefir. I use raw milk from a local farm to make my yogurt, which I can then strain to get the whey and yogurt cheese. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any more questions!

  10. Christi Luke says:

    We have a big thing of whey we bought from $1 ….! from a local diary that sells raw milk. What else can we make with the whey. Can you make a whey protein drink from it?


    • Mindy says:

      Hi Christi! What a great deal to be able to get that from a local farm. You could definitely add it to a smoothie to make a protein drink. I’ll also add small amounts to slightly cooled soup. You don’t really taste it and you get the added probiotics and protein. Or you can use it to soak grains or beans.

  11. what type of yoghurt would be best? We have been using greek yoghurt because it’s so much healthier than normal yoghurt. You know of any yoghurt better though?

    • Mindy says:

      I think any yogurt that doesn’t have very many additives would work fine. Another great store bought one is a Bulgarian yogurt that comes in a glass jar. It is just milk and the cultures. I typically use my homemade yogurt from raw milk to do this.

  12. Tracy says:

    Hi Mindy, I’ve recently purchased and tried using some simple diapers (unbleached, flat) and now I find they still have a cheesy smell. Will hotter water in the wash do the trick or is there something else I should be doing? Thanks in advance for any assistance here.

    • Mindy says:

      Hi Tracy,

      Hotter water might be helpful. I also often do a rinse in the sink with white vinegar, which I think helps. There’s still a very faint scent left at times so I usually just use the same 2 or 3 for that purpose. Hope this helps!


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