Why whey? Or why not?

IMGP0198A couple weeks ago I posted about my Great Greek Yogurt Experiment, where I strained regular plain yogurt and made a simple version of Greek Yogurt.  What was amazing to me was the amount of whey that came out during the straining—almost ½ the product.  When I talked to people about this “experiment” the question I frequently got was “so what did you do with the whey?”

I’ll confess. I threw it down the drain.

But since so many people asked, I started investigating possible uses for this whey.

Whey from yogurt is different than whey from cheese. Sweet fluid whey is a byproduct of making cheese and contains protein, milk sugars and some minerals.  There are many commercial uses for this sweet whey.  The whey that comes out of the yogurt is called “acid whey”.  It contains lactic acid from the yogurt fermentation, a small amount of protein and minerals.

It takes two to three times as much milk to make Greek Yogurt as it does to make “regular” yogurt so you would think you get double the nutrition. Not necessarily.  Nutritional analysis shows that the Greek Yogurt has double the protein but not double the calcium. Greek yogurt is also low in potassium and magnesium.  Where did they go?  Into the whey.

Note:  Greek Yogurt is not completely void of calcium.  According to package labels 1 cup of Greek Yogurt  gives you 25% of your % Daily value of Calcium where as plain regular yogurt provides 30%.  Both are still excellent sources of calcium—it just isn’t double in the Greek Yogurt.

So, what could you do with this acid whey? A quick search through Google revealed that some folks use the acid whey in cooking and others put it on their plants.  I’m thinking it could be easily added to smoothies for some additional liquid and calcium. Perhaps you could use it as a liquid ingredient in place if water when baking yeast products.  It could be used as a substitute for buttermilk in quick breads or for marinating meat before barbequing.  Try mixing it in with your dry dog or cat food (I bet some cats are too finicky for that!). Be sure to keep it refrigerated and treat as if it were a fresh dairy product until use.

I talked with an agricultural expert and he cautioned about getting too carried away using it to fertilize your indoor plants.  He said, yes, it would be good for the plants, but it may also smell if you used it in large quantities—after all it is a dairy byproduct.

While making Greek Yogurt at home yields just small amounts of whey—the disposal of this acid whey is also a concern of the large yogurt manufacturers that have one to two pounds of whey for every pound of Greek Yogurt they make.  Most of their “waste” whey is used by farmers as fertilizers or feed for animals.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Free pasta or gummy noodles – too good to be true?

Calorie free, carb free, fat free, cholesterol free noodles and pasta. Is this too good to be true?

Some of the popular daytime television doctors have been recommending shirataki noodles to help with everything from weight loss, to cholesterol reduction, diabetes control and intestinal regulation. They can be purchased on-line, at health and Asian food stores as well as some grocery stores.  My sister-in-law bought several bags of these noodles and recently shared them with me.  I’m not sure if she gave them to me because she knew I’d write about them…or she just wanted to get rid of them.IMGP9896

Described as the ultimate guilt-free, miracle noodle, this pasta-like product is made from the konjac plant (a relative of the yam). It’s mostly composed of a soluble fiber called glucomannan. The 8.8 ounce package (they consider this one serving) contained 9 grams of fiber. Her cost was about $3 + shipping.

OK. I was a little leery. The angel hair “noodles”  came in a bag surrounded by water, looking very much like white or almost translucent pasta. The instructions say to drain and rinse well. I read a newspaper article about this product and it said to drain the “funky, earthy, fishy” smelling water—I got thinking—why would I want to eat something that smelled “funky”. I’m told this is the natural smell of the plant and it goes away with rinsing or heating—and it did. They are ready-to-eat once rinsed or can be heated.

My family joked— calling them “gummy” noodles  (this was “gummy”  like gummi bears–not gummy like over-cooked oatmeal).  They had lots of texture and little flavor. The “pasta” tends to pick up the flavor of the sauces or other foods added to them.

The supplement glucomannan is promoted as an appetite suppressant. The supplement and the “noodle” product tends to absorb water as it hangs out in your intestinal track— thus making you feel full. While some promoters of the noodles say they don’t cause bloating or gas, other web sites warn people to eat a small amount initially—to see if you have intestinal distress.

So what did I think? They were OK. It is fiber and it gives you something to chew (and chew and chew). Not awful—but just OK. I do think this is another one of those fads or gimmicks. It’s always fun to try different foods. I’m back to the moderation thing, I certainly won’t want to eat lots of these on a regular basis. They may be good for a person on a gluten-free diet…but there are other pasta products available, too. I, personally, would rather have a smaller portion of regular pasta or a flavorful dish of spaghetti squash. Don’t know what to do with spaghetti squash?  Try our recipe for Spaghetti Squash Parmasan.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University