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What Have I Done to the Whey?  RSS feed

 
Cristo Balete
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I have some basic knowledge of chesemaking, I do a lot of continuous Kombucha, and some simple beer, so I understand fermentation basics. I made some simple cheese by stirring in lemon juice to whole milk and straining off the whey, bottled it, and refrigerated it thinking I would add it to things to use it up. I got busy with other things, kept putting it off, and that was 3 months ago. I just tasted it, it tastes like fresh bean curd still, but now it's gelatinous and bubbly. What's up with the whey??

It's been in a closed bottle in the refrigerator, but I guess on the overnight of making the simple cheese in the beginning it could have picked up some yeasts in the air, and slowly over these months they are doing their thing under chilly conditions?

I'd love to know the science of this, and where is it going?

 
r ranson
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hmm, interesting results.

When you made the whey did you heat the milk at that time, or did you leave it at room temperature to clabber?

Was the milk fresh from the udder, homogenized, pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized? This can affect how the milk reacts.

I don't know much about the texture you describe as I haven't tried this myself. Yeast is possible, also bacterial ferments create ferment farts. Yeast seems to like milk, and most milk ferments (be it cheese or yoghurt) include yeast in the SCOBY ( symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast).


You probably already know this next bit, but I'm going to write it for the readers who are new to the idea.

There are several different ways to make whey, just like there are different ways to make cheese.

The simplest way is to heat the milk to boiling point, let it cool enough to stop bubbling, then add an acid (lemon juice, yoghurt, vinegar). Stir it well, wait five to ten min, and strain off the curds. This is how we make paneer cheese as well as some simple homemade ricotta style cheese. Cheese made this way does not melt - Paneer makes a decent (vegetarian, but not vegan) tofu substitute for those who are allergic to soy. The whey from this kind of cheese has been boiled and the bacteria and yeast killed off. Although nutritionally dense, it's pretty useless for starting ferments.

Another popular way to make whey is to make dream cheese - strained yoghurt cheese. Start with plain, no additive yoghurt (just milk and culture), then strain it in a cloth until it is the consistency of cream cheese, or thicker. The whey from this is teaming with beneficial bacteria and yeast. Because of its simplicity, this seems to be one of the more popular ways to make whey (and cheeses like labneh).

Clabbering sounds a lot like what you did. The milk is fermented at room temperature, either with a starter culture like yoghurt or by the natural bacteria and yeast in raw milk. The milk clabbers - separates the solids from the whey and this is supposedly a delicious cheese. I haven't tried it yet. One can also clabber by adding an acid... or so I've heard. I'm not sure if this is a chemical reaction or a bacterial one so I don't know if the whey from this would be good as a starter.

Normal cheese making involves heating the milk to about body temp, adding a bacteria/yeast/mold culture, then adding rennet. This is what I usually think of when I think of whey. It's teaming with life and nutritional goodies.

There are other methods to get whey. Basically, we can get whey by heat and acid, by chemical reaction, by fermenting and some other way I cannot remember.

 
Sebastian Köln
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Cristo Balete wrote:I just tasted it, it tastes like fresh bean curd still, but now it's gelatinous and bubbly.

Maybe this paper gives a hint: Gelling properties of microparticulated whey proteins.

Sounds like a way to make dessert without gelatin.

EDIT: updated link to point to a reliable URL
 
Cristo Balete
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This is a simple farmer's cheese or lemon cheese, I think I've heard it called. the lemon juice curdles it. It's not technically clabboring because it's not soured unpasteurized milk left out for a couple days, no rennet. It's really easy and great plain or mixed in with things.

Farmer's Cheese is 1 Gallon pasturized whole milk from the store, 1 C of buttermilk from the store, and the juice from 2-3 lemons, at room temperature, curdled, strained through cheese cloth with a weight on it overnight in the refrigerator. The whey is light amber color, no milk solids visible. I stored it in a glass beer bottle with a screw-on top in the refrigerator. The effervescence actually was present after 6 weeks, and I debated what to do with it at that point. Then I stalled out, and now it's become a gel.

I drank some of the gelled whey and I'm fine, it was fine. It's not a SCOBY floating on top. The whole bottle is gelatinous. There must be some yeast because of the effervescence, but the texture is not what I expected. And what kind of bacteria/yeast combo turns things into gelatin? It tastes the same as it did as whey, and as just effervescent at 6 weeks, that hasn't changed.

Now that I think of it, this might have something to do with the buttermilk, since the containers always say "cultured buttermilk". But I don't think the whey would stay fresh enough to be drinkable at room temp, and the refrigerator keeps it cold and slows the fermentation.
 
Cristo Balete
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Sebastian, the link says it's not available. Thanks for looking into it, though.

I found something similar at Dairy Science Direct, talking about whey protein in the presence of citric acid and a low pH.

http://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302%2812%2900132-4/abstract?cc=y=
 
r ranson
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Farmer's Cheese is 1 Gallon pasturized whole milk from the store, 1 C of buttermilk from the store, and the juice from 2-3 lemons, at room temperature, curdled, strained through cheese cloth with a weight on it overnight in the refrigerator.


This is how you made your whey?
This would probably fall into a fermented cheese, almost a yoghurt cheese with the lemon juice helping it along. Sounds delicious!

Cultured buttermilk usually has both yeast and bacteria in it, all good stuff. There shouldn't be anything wrong with it. Without the cultured buttermilk, I would hesitate to say it's safe because the milk has been pasteurized and it leaves it open to any opportunistic invisible beasties, some of which might be harmful. However, adding a starter culture like cultured buttermilk, makes it unlikely unwanted invisible beasties might invade the whey.

Why would it become gelatinous? Good question. Scratching the back of my memory, there are yoghurt cultures that can create gelatinous results. Villi is the first that comes to mind, but there are others. Think about the jelly 'grains' that kefir makes - there is something in milk that will naturally ferment into jelly, but what and why it happened here? It's a good question. There is usually proteins left in the whey, maybe they reacted with the live culture from the cultured buttermilk?



I keep saying 'cultured buttermilk' because buttermilk used to refer to the milky liquid leftover from churning butter, but now it also refers to a cultured milk product, made something like yoghurt. Of course there is also buttermilk from making cultured butter... one word, so many meanings.

One of the great things about ancient crafts like cheesemaking is that the same words have a whole range of meanings depending on where in the world the recipe originates. Since we are using English words, in England up to about the middle of the 20th Century, the dialect could vary drastically from village to village. I saw a BBC film a while back where they were talking with fishermen from the part of Suffolk where my dad grew up. He could understand the language easily, but even the other British viewers needed subtitles. Even today, the meaning of the words and phrases depends on where you are and what decade we are talking about. Decimate means to reduce by one-tenth in most of the world... up to about five years ago, whereas now, especially in North America, it used instead of the verb desolate, or to almost utterly destroy and consequently desolate is now hardly ever used as a verb. Luck out, until about 20 years ago, meant to be out of luck, and still means that in much of the UK, whereas in North America, it means to be in luck, or as they say in the UK, luck in. It's one of the things I love most about ancient day to day crafts like cheesemaking, is that any attempt to standardize the language has proven futile because there is so much regional variation and tradition that surrounds it.

'Farmhouse cheese' in the middle ages, was almost always a rennet-based cheese. Later on, it moved towards being a fermented cheese, like the buttermilk one you describe. In more recent books, 'farmhouse cheese' is an acid and heat cheese like paneer. The same with the way ricotta is used now - before it was a specific kind of whey-based cheese, but the books now use this word to described any cheese of a similar characteristic. Clabbering can mean from raw milk ferment, it can mean from a starter culture, or it can be used to describe the result rather than the method and talk about a chemical rather than a fermentation reaction. Old word, lots of possible meanings.

The frustrating thing about the language is that it makes discussing cheesemaking with people who have read different books, or practice different regional traditions, a bit difficult as we can end up talking about the same thing but not realize it because the words we use are different.


Many people think of a SCOBY as being a Mother - it is not. A mother is a SCOBY, but a SCOBY is not necessarily a mother. A mother is like the kombucha 'mushroom', vinegar mother, or kefir 'grains' and is often something distinct from the finished 'brew'. A SCOBY is a bunch of bacteria and yeast living together and liking it. This can be separate like a Mother, or it can be the finished product like yoghurt. It is usually balanced - meaning that if one keeps feeding it, the SCOBY can continue indefinitly. Commercial yoghurt starter isn't always considered a SCOBY, because the bacteria and yeast are not co-existing in ballance and the culture weakens over time. Traditional yoghurt like Villi or Fil Mjolk, is a SCOBY. (in some parts of the word, Mother and SCOBY are completely interchangeable, and mothers don't have to be a seporate thing like a 'mushroom' or 'grain') See what I mean about words? Aren't they beautiful? A bit confusing, I grant you, even with modern ideas like SCOBY.

There must be some yeast because of the effervescence


The effervescence is from a build up of gases, most likely CO2. Both yeast and bacteria create CO2 as a byproduct of their ferment (ferment farts). So yes, it could easily be from yeast, but it could also be from bacteria. Sounds like from what you describe, it's from both.
 
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