Beyond Greek yogurt – a baker’s secret.

DSC_1949

High-rising, whole wheat blueberry muffins

Light, tender whole-grain pancakes

Ooey-gooey buttermilk cake

What do all of these treats have in common?

Give up?

The answer is…

Liquid whey.

See that liquid in the measuring cup? That’s liquid whey.

And where do you get it?

From yogurt.

Have you become gotten hooked on Greek-style yogurt? Do you know how easy it is to make your own?

Simply drain a quart of yogurt for 24 hours, and it’ll turn into two things:

A pint of ultra-thick, flavorful Greek-style yogurt.

And 2 cups of liquid whey.

Many of you are probably just pouring that whey down the drain.

But whey is actually a great ingredient on its own: it steps in for buttermilk in all kinds of yummy recipes.

Want to know more? Let’s make some whey.

You can drain yogurt in a sieve with coffee filters; or through cheesecloth, tied in a bag and set over a draining bowl in the fridge.

Or take the easy way out, with our Wave yogurt strainer.

Simply spoon 32 ounces of plain nonfat yogurt into the strainer, which is set inside a draining bucket.

The “wave” part comes from the strainer’s design, which is a gentle parabola at its center to expose more surface to the yogurt, thus draining it more quickly.

At first, the yogurt is heaped in the Wave; but after an hour, it settles below the rim, at which time you snap on the cap, and put it into the fridge. Next day, the yogurt has become thick and rich-tasting – yes, even nonfat yogurt.

It’s the perfect consistency for scooping into a bowl and sprinkling with granola. I’ve added a splash of vanilla extract, for flavor.

One caveat – not all yogurts drain nicely. Of the four brands I’ve tried, three are fine; but the Trader Joe’s yogurt is thin enough that a lot of the milk solids leak through the sieve, yielding much less Greek-style yogurt.

My favorite is our local Stop & Shop supermarket brand, which yields thick yogurt with very mild tang and lovely flavor. So, don’t think good Greek-style yogurt requires spending money on fancy yogurt to begin with.

Now, besides the yogurt, you’ve captured the drained liquid–

Liquid whey. Eight ounces if you’ve drained a pint of yogurt; a full 16 ounces, if you’ve drained a quart.

I often use whey in place of water in my yeast bread recipes; yeast loves its mild acidity. Plus, I love its protein and calcium.

And I’ve found it’s a great substitute for buttermilk in all kinds of treats, like these 100% Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins.

These muffins are SO tender and SO moist, they’ve quickly become my family’s favorite breakfast treat. Give ‘em a try – I’m betting your family will agree.

And from now on – save the whey!

First, preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease the cups of a standard muffin pan; or line with paper baking cups, and grease the paper cups.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour or Premium Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Whisk everything together. Don’t spend a lot of time at this; if the berries are frozen, you don’t want them to thaw.

Why not? The softer the berries, the more likely they are to leach juice into the batter, turning your muffins blue-green.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the following:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups liquid whey OR 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them nearly full. A slightly heaped muffin scoop of batter is the right amount.

Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with coarse sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes; they should dome nicely.

When they’re done, a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins should come out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes (or when they’re cool enough to handle) transfer them to a rack to cool.

Serve warm, or at room temperature. Store leftovers loosely wrapped at room temperature.

See what I mean about blue/green batter? It’s nearly inevitable with frozen berries; and it absolutely doesn’t affect the muffins’ wonderful taste, so no worries.

I just happened to see a new national brand muffin mix in the supermarket the other day – blueberry muffins made (partially) with whole wheat flour.

Well, how could I resist putting our King Arthur 100% whole wheat blueberry muffins up against these?

Here’s our muffin on the left; store mix muffin on the right.

Similar in the looks department. Better, fiber-wise. And I may be prejudiced (well, OK, I AM prejudiced), but I preferred the flavor and texture of our muffins.

Chalk one up for home baking!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins.

Print just the recipe.

Note: Since whey is thinner than buttermilk, I reduce the amount I use by about 20% to 25%, compared to the buttermilk called for in any particular recipe. In a recipe calling for 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, for instance, I’d use 1 1/4 cups whey.

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule; for recipes using 1/2 cup of buttermilk or less, I use the same amount of whey.

You’ll just want to play it by ear – or eye. Make the batter or dough as thick as you think it should be – e.g., pancakes; you know what pancake batter looks like. Or scones; you know scone dough should be thick enough to shape and cut. Always start with a smaller amount of whey. Then, if necessary, add more – since it’s impossible to add less!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Amy

    What a great idea! Is there any other way to obtain whey other than by draining yogurt? Just curious …..I can’t wait to try this out!

    I think you can buy whey powder, Amy – not sure how it compares, but it might be an option. You can also get whey from the cheese-making process (remember Little Miss Muffet and her curds and whey?). But I’d assume draining yogurt (or buying powdered) is a lot easier. PJH

    Reply
  2. buckeyebaker

    finally, finally somebody has addressed this question. i’ve been making Greek yogurt for years, but was not sure what to do with the whey and couldn’t find much on the internet or even cookbooks, but reluctant to toss it. so i’ve been using in baking: quick breads, in breads; in soups (cream based); certainly in sourdough waffles and pancakes (wonderful), even snuck into cookies.
    question — how long do you find that the whey will stay in the fridge; and can it be frozen? i make LOTS of greek yogurt, using your wonderful implements, and sometimes fall behind on my whey-use.
    thanks so much for addressing this question

    It can definitely be frozen. As for how long in the fridge – I honestly don’t know for sure. I’ve kept mine for several weeks – maybe 3? – and it was fine. I’d say give it a smell; if it doesn’t smell good, don’t use it. Have fun – it’s neat figuring out all the ways to use it, eh? PJH

    Reply
  3. Anne

    The recipes featured in this latest posting are some of our ALL time family favorites! With this popular blog hopefully more home-bakers will now find and enjoy these as much as we do. (Indeed, whenever I am asked about MY recipes, I simply refer them to the KAF website.) A question on the yogurt strainer: Does it really hold 32 oz, undrained? Some users comment that the capacity of this otherwise useful gadget is not large enough to hold the entire amount from a container of store-bought yogurt. I would appreciate what the test kitchen has to say about this. Thanks.

    Anne, the test kitchen (me) says, take a look at the picture of the yogurt when I first put it in: that’s 32 ounces. The Wave doesn’t hold 32 ounces with the top on, when you first put it in; but I spoon in the entire quart (32 oz.) container; let it sit for an hour without the lid, and after an hour it’s drained enough I can snap the lid on. It’s honestly not an issue, IMHO… PJH

    Reply
  4. ebenezer94

    Such perfect timing. I drained a quart of yogurt yesterday and then last night I looked at the whey and stood there looking at the whey from the fridge that I had saved from the last quart (some of which I had used to make some biscuits) trying to decide whether to throw out the old whey (only a few days old) and just save the new or pour the new in with the old. I opted for the latter. Now I have plenty to try your ideas. I make yeast bread every week (just made a loaf yesterday) and it never occurred to me to use the whey in that. I’ll give that a whirl next time.

    In terms of yogurts that drain well for Greek yogurt, my favorite is Trader Joe’s Organic Nonfat. I find Trader Joe’s regular nonfat comes out a bit too tangy, but the organic makes great Greek style yogurt. I drain in a sieve lined with a paper towel over a bowl. Easy peasy.

    Isn’t that funny? The TJ’s organic nonfat didn’t drain well for me at all; it was too liquid, and went right through. I wonder if it has to do with what part of the country you’re in? I assume TJ’s sources local milk to make yogurt… PJH

    Reply
  5. Anne

    Thanks, PJ, for answering my question on the strainer. Nice to learn how you actually used the gadget. I have been considering this strainer but I don’t want to bring home another piece of ‘toy’. (I call my collection of cute-looking but not too practical and seldom used kitchen tools as my ‘toys’.) Using a strainer designed for such purpose surely makes it easier to make my own Greek yogurt. Thanks again, PJ. I look forward to reading your next post.

    Depends how much you make drained yogurt, Anne. I actually drain the yogurt, then keep it in the Wave in the fridge; this is especially helpful when I make something like tzatziki with the yogurt. It continues to drain the excess liquid from the added cucumbers, keeping it nice and thick. PJH

    Reply
  6. misoranomegami

    Gah! A day late! I made a wheel of cheddar yesterday and ended up with 4 gallons of whey. It went to my plants though as I was too tired to do anything with it. Ah well, it was dyed anyway from coloring the cheddar. Maybe when I make the havarti.

    Reply
  7. karikilgore

    These recipes look fabulous, especially the muffins! I’ve never drained yogurt, but I’ve been making kefir at home for a while now. I have experimented with making cheese out of that, and the Wave might be exactly the tool I’m looking for to do that draining without the messy cheesecloth. Since kefir is also fermented like yogurt, I’m betting the liquid I drain off when making cheese will stand in perfectly for the yogurt whey. I’ve used the kefir itself as a buttermilk stand in with great results.

    Thanks for the tip!

    Kefir at home – haven’t tried that, but now I will. Thanks for your feedback, Kari – PJH

    Reply
  8. Irene in TO

    Nonfat yogurt doesn’t drain well regardless of the brand. I have no idea why.

    I make mine with a colander and two layers of paper towel–for those who don’t have the space for another gadget.

    I have stored whey in the fridge for a month without any harm.

    To use it for the liquid in baking bread, I bring it to the simmer just in case there are any cultures that will interfere with the yeast.

    Whey will also make your pie crust tender–just add a teaspoon of sugar per cup of flour.

    Irene, thanks for the useful tips, as always. I have to say, I always drain nonfat yogurt to make Greek-style, and don’t seem to have any problem – except with Trader Joe’s, as mentioned. PJH

    Reply
  9. Sabine

    Besides using in baking, I add the whey to shredded cabbage when I’m making naturally fermented sauerkraut. Also, I give some to my boxer when she has an occasional upset stomach.

    Wow, never thought of either of those, Sabine – thanks! I think I’ll try it in my kimchee… PJH

    Reply
  10. binag

    I make a lot of paneer (Indian cheese) using yogurt to separate the milk into curds and whey – much like cheese-making. Would this whey work in the same way do you think? By the way, that muffin looks gorgeous!

    It sounds mighty close. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  11. JuKing

    I’m thinking that the whey would be a great addition to gluten free baking because the gluten that is omitted is a protein and needs to be replaced by another protein in order to hold together well. Buttermilk is often called for in GF recipes also.

    Not really. Dairy proteins do not contribute the level of structure of gluten. I think you will have much better luck adding a stabilizing gum, like Xanthan. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  12. narfing

    I have tried that box mix! I had a coupon making it pretty cheap and they were disgusting. I threw them all away and yours are MUCH MUCH better. These are my favorite muffins ever. I added a few drops of fiori di sicila with them. Heaven. I wish I had some now – but we ate the whole dozen in a day.

    Glad to hear it – I thought the box mix muffins were OK, though they did have that distinctive “box mix” taste – I think it’s some kind of artificial flavoring they must all use… PJH

    Reply
  13. ebenezer94

    I’m on the opposite side of the country from y’all (Seattle) so likely am getting dairy products from different sources at my TJs.

    Could be the answer… hope things are nice in Seattle today! PJH

    Reply
  14. Mary

    I have frozen whey, after draining yogurt, for later use in breads or soups, and it seems to work well. I haven’t had any trouble draining low-fat yogurt, but I know that you have to get yogurt that does not have stabilizers — like gelatin (added specifically to keep it from separating.) I’ve used the Wave for about 14 years and find it way easier than anything else I’ve tried. Plus, as mentioned above, you can use it to store the drained yogurt. Thanks for the recipes and for the always-great customer service.

    Thanks for your helpful feedback here, Mary – as you say, some yogurts with stabilizers have a hard time relaxing enough to drain… Good tip. PJH

    Reply
  15. mikkianderson

    I can’t speak on draining store bought non-fat yogurt as I make my own. I can make a half gallon in 20 min active time and costs less than $3; not going to spend 4 times that for a pretty package and mine drains perfectly.
    I sub whey for nearly every recipe that calls for buttermilk. I also use it my pet food as a healty add-in which they all love, especially the chickens. Oh and any that goes off, and you KNOW when it’s off, right into the compost pile, great compost kick starter.
    The muffins are great BTW! Used applesauce instead of oil came out very moist and tender, even with no fat.

    Wow, thanks for all the tips, Mikki – clearly you’re a seasoned “save the whey” baker! PJH

    Reply
  16. Mary

    Interesting comments and great information. I use whey protein powder to make my smoothies. Does this whey have the same high protein? I know the greek yogurt (which I am now going to make after all of your great comments) is higher in protein so I am wondering how much protein this whey will have. Any ideas?

    Mary, according to Dannon, this is the nutritional profile of 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of whey: approximately 30 cal, 0g fat, 1g protein, 7g carbohydrates, and 130 mg calcium. Hope this helps – PJH

    Reply
  17. Robin G

    Instead of blueberries, try making this with frozen or fresh cranberries. I have a very similar recipe. Omit the cinnamon. Mix the dry ingredients separately from the wet. add the dry to the wet, put 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups whole fresh or frozen cranberries atop the dry ingredients and then (and only then) mix until combined. My recipe uses yogurt but this looks great.

    I have cranberries in my freezer – I’m totally trying this. Thanks Robin! PJH

    Reply
  18. Robin G

    PJ

    Let me know what you think. My recipe also subs oatmeal for some of the flour, and I always use KAF white whole wheat flour. But white is OK too!

    Reply
  19. Mary

    Thanks for the nutritional info from Dannon PJH. I’ll have to compare to my whey powder. Probably not a bad idea to throw a bit into my morning smoothie. Think I’ll give it a try:)

    Sure, why not? I drained vanilla yogurt the other day, and the resulting whey was nicely sweet, with just a hint of tang – bet it would be yummy in a smoothie! PJH

    Reply
  20. Jenny

    Very interesting talk about Greek Yogurt. I started researching Greek Yogurt in more detail. I found more interesting information about Greek Yogurt here
    Hope everyone else finds this as useful as I did.

    http://www.greekyoghurt.org
    This is a great resource, Jenny, thanks so much for sharing it with all of us! I find that more and more people are calling about yogurt wanting to make it themselves. I’m sure this will be very helpful. ~Amy

    Reply
  21. wendyb964

    It was, ahem, 30+ years ago when I first made yogurt with regular or dried milk + active culture yogurt. That original yogurt maker is still around and works well. Having given it to my sis who’s had less than stellar results, she wasn’t using a starter yogurt with active live cultures, and all powdered milk does provide a different taste profile with less “body.” We have both always used the whey: it’s full of protein and goodies, no sense throwing yummy nutrients away. Certain times there is more whey than others, so freezing it will keep it handy. Thanks, KAF, for once opening the eyes of another mad scientist in the kitchen. :) Alas, with 100+ degree California days I may not have a day of baking until fall….unless my neighbor and I get together and have a night of baking when hubby is at the hospital….. :) :)
    We are always happy to inspire! Thanks for letting us know and stay cool in sunny Cal. Elisabeth

    Reply
  22. Kim

    What a great article! I have a question, though — can you drain full-fat yogurt the same way? We don’t do low fat dairy, we’re trying to go the Nourishing Traditions way, AND we have little ones in the house. I can’t wait to try that blueberry muffin recipe!

    Yes! You’ll see a picture of “plain yogurt” in the blog along with the other non fat and zero fat yogurts. Happy Baking – er, greek yogurt making! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  23. Nicoline Smits

    I’ve long drained whey out of ricotta cheese when I make lasagne. I find the lasagne holds together better when I drain the ricotta (and mix it with a beaten egg, along with some basil, oregano and black pepper for taste) and it also freezes better. It’s my husband’s favorite meal to take to the office I often make two lasagnes at once and freeze three quarters of it. When it thaws, it doesn’t shed so much water and it tastes much better!

    Reply
  24. CCutrone123

    I’m a novice baker, made these today, and they were insanely delicious! I used KAF Premium Whole Wheat flour, buttermilk, and subbed unsweetened applesauce for half of the oil. They were incredibly moist and flavorful. This recipe is a total keeper!

    Reply
  25. Rebecca DeRienzo

    I’ve been making Greek yogurt for about six weeks now and putting the whey in my dogs’ bowls. One dog has been very overweight but she seems to be losing weight and is more energenic!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you are baking with yogurt then it should certainly be at room temperature. However, it won’t need to be to make Greek yogurt! Jon@KAF

  26. Anna

    Made these yesterday, great texture and taste. Put a few completely cooled extras in a plastic container and they were mushy in less than a day. They were so mushy I had to give them to the chickens. Now I’m worried about thawing the plastic-wrapped extras I froze to have on hand. Should I thaw them in the fridge? And why can’t they be stored in a plastic container, shouldn’t it be as good as the plastic wrap?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We had best results storing these muffins loosely wrapped at room temp – the plastic container may create an air tight environment that isn’t best for these muffins. If you’ve frozen some, it’s probably best to thaw in the refrigerator and bring to room temp or warm before eating. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *