Wednesday, April 6, 2011

No More Whey-ting!

I've been wanting to step into the world of lacto-fermentation as a means of increasing the nourishing food around here at the Haney Place.  Since I'm on the road to wellness (ever since a stupid bacteria totally kicked my butt a month or so ago) I have been taking this whole wellness thing very seriously.  I always knew what to do in terms of diet and lifestyle, but didn't always follow my own rules.

But I digress.  You can't even begin to talk about lacto-fermentation until you've got yourself some real live whey in the house.  I'm not referring to the stuff you buy at the body-building store.  I'm talking about real whey from real (fresh, raw) milk.  So.....a nice trip out to a dairy farm out in Ballston, NY, and two gallons of fresh raw milk later, and we're already on our whey!  (I know, I know, Big Steve has been rolling his eyes at the whey puns for days now).

There is a wealth of information on the health benefits of foods fermented with whey and the benefits of the curd cheese (cream cheese) left behind in the process.  So I won't try to pretend to be a nutritionist.  There is also a wealth of websites dedicated to teaching us how to do this at home.  And they all say the same thing..."you can't mess this up" and it's true.  You really can't mess this up!  And it honestly couldn't be easier.

So start by pouring 2 quarts of fresh raw milk into a glass container.  (Can't be metal, and I don't like plastic because of the health risks).  I especially like glass because you can see through it and it's really easy to see when it's done.  Now cover your container with a light layer of cheesecloth and walk away.  Now that's all you need to do until 2-4 days later, when the curds and whey have separated into different layers.  And now the fun begins.

Line a stainless steel strainer with cheesecloth and pour the curds/whey through so that the cheese stays in the strainer.  When most of the liquid has passed through, tie up your cheesecloth onto a wooden spoon or other implement long enough to hang across a pitcher or other container, so that the liquid whey can continue to drip out overnight.  In the morning, pour all the whey into a clean canning jar, cover, and refrigerate.  This will keep in the fridge for several months and can now be used in any recipe calling for whey.

What is left behind in the cheesecloth is a pound of gorgeous, creamy, incredibly nutritious cream cheese.  If you've never had homemade, you don't know what you're missing.  It is so much better than the store-bought variety, and so much more nutritious.  While it may be true that a lot of full-fat commercial dairy products aren't good for you, the same cannot be said for fresh and cultured products made from fresh raw milk.  I can't think of anything better you can do for your body, even if you're watching your weight.  Especially if you're watching your weight!  I invite you to do your own Google search and see what you come up with.

Now...I can't wait to use my whey to make some good lacto-fermented ketchup, some homemade gingerale (a naturally sparkling beverage that's actually GOOD FOR YOU!) and some lacto fermented carrots and other goodies.  Stay tuned!!!

And if you want a wealth of information, techniques and recipes for all things good for you, this is what I consider a must read:

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