Technique: Tangy Yogurt Cream Cheese and Whey

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“Whey is such a good helper in your kitchen. It has a lot of minerals. One tablespoon of whey in a little water will help digestion. It is a remedy that will keep your muscles young. It will keep your joints movable and ligaments elastic. When age wants to bend your back, take whey… With stomach ailments, take one tablespoon whey three times daily, this will feed the stomach glands and they will work well again.”

By Hanna Kroeger Ageless Remedies from Mother’s Kitchen

Whey is a liquid yellow by-product of cheese making. If a gallon of raw milk was set on the counter for several days, it would eventually separate into curds (solid) and whey (liquid). Or as demonstrated in this blog, a quart of yogurt can be strained into sweet cream cheese (solid) and whey (liquid). Curds are used to make cheese. And, we’re all familiar with the creamy & comforting delight called cream cheese. But… what the heck should we do with that weird yellow whey?


Liquid whey is chock full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial bacteria (probiotics). An old wives tale that actually works touted that a bit of whey settles the stomach and stops diarrhea. Due to it’s good “bugs” (friendly bacteria), whey can be used to activate a fermentation process that produces delights like lacto-fermented sauerkraut, beet kvass, highly digestible baked goods and more. This natural fermentation produces loads of depression-avoiding B Vitamins. It also increases the shelf-life of foods and provides even more beneficial bacteria to re-build our healthy gut flora. We pay hard-earned money for vitamins filled with freeze-dried probiotics. Come to find out, we can produce our own fresh and lively probiotic-filled foods for a portion of the price. All beginning with a jar of high-quality grass-fed yogurt.

Making Whey

1. Purchase 1-quart of organic, preferably grass-fed, whole milk yogurt. I often use Straus Creamery.

2. Locate a fine-mesh strainer, a lid the size of the mesh strainer or larger, a large bowl (I like to use an 2-Quart measuring cup), a thin tea towel (thin is important to allow the liquid to seep through), a wooden spoon and a tall pitcher or vase with a wide mouth. See Picture #1 and #7.

3. Set the strainer over the bowl. Line the strainer with the thin tea towel. See Picture #1 and #3.

Picture #2: Yogurt being poured into a fine-mesh strainer lined with a tea towel.

Picture #3 - Yogurt being poured into a fine mesh strainer lined with a tea towel.

Picture #4 - Not a drop wasted! Using a rubber spatula to scrap the yogurt from the jar.

4. Pour the yogurt into a fine-mesh strainer lined with a thin tea towel. See Picture #2, #3 and #4.

Picture #5: A pan lid or plate is used to cover the yogurt.

Picture #6: Look for drips of whey. Once it stops, move onto Step 6.

5. After yogurt is poured into the lined strainer, cover with a lid and set aside at room temperature for 4-6 hours. Check occasionally to see if the whey has stopped dripping into the bowl. Once it has stopped dripping, move on to Step 6. If your house is exceptionally warm (above 80 degrees) place this whole set-up into the fridge. See Picture #5 & #6.

Picture #7: When drips have subsided, the tea towel is tied into a satchel over a wooden spoon.

6. When the drips have subsided, place a wooden spoon across the mesh strainer and double-knot the diagonal corners of the tea towel over-top of the spoon handle. Set the taller vase or wide-mouth pitcher next to the strainer. Carefully lift the satchel, place it inside the tall vessel, hanging the satchel by the spoon handle. Be careful not to squeeze the satchel. It should drip slowly on it’s own accord. Pour the whey from the bottom of the original bowl into a glass container. Store in the fridge. Place the whole vase/spoon/satchel operation into the fridge. Allow it to drip in the fridge for 8-12 hours or overnight. It is finished when it is no longer dripping. See Picture #7.

Picture #8: Yea for Whey!

7. After whey has stopped dripping, remove the satchel and place on a cutting board. Untie the tea towel from the wooden spoon. Scrape the cream cheese into a glass bowl with a lid and use as you would use any store-bought cream cheese. It is slightly sweeter, having come from yogurt. It is delicious mixed with a little jam and spread on toast. Yogurt cream cheese must be refrigerated and will last for approx 1 month. Combine the second batch of whey with the first batch. Store whey in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. See Picture #8.

Whey” to go!

xo – Organic Spark


  • moneek

    excellent instructions! and the photos add so much to the details. I’m working on my first batch right now. Thanks!

    November 30, 2012
  • I just came across your article! So helpful thank you!! This world of whey is so new to me. I make a lot of fermented foods but none with whey. What is the probiotic benefit of whey when it’s from store bought, pasteurized yogurt? And is it better to avoid it if one is sensitive to dairy? Thanks so much!!

    July 17, 2014
    • Molly Chester

      Even yogurt made from pasteurized milk has cultures from the yogurt, so it would have probiotics. It is case specific for dairy sensitive people. I have known folks sensitive to dairy that tolerate whey.

      July 21, 2014
  • Cecilia

    I caught the tail end of Chef Jamie Gwen’s radio show and was intrigued by your “back to butter” cookbook. I assume this technique applies to goat yogurt as well. Is the shelf life of the whey & goat yogurt cream cheese the same – up to 6 months for whey & 1 month for the yogurt cream cheese?

    What brand of organic grass-fed goat yogurt do you recommend?

    PS – I love your website and have referred a few friends.

    Thank you!!

    September 8, 2014
    • Molly Chester

      Whey doesn’t always last 6 months. You will be able to tell when it’s not looking good. As for grass-fed goat yogurt, I don’t know of one! If you hear of a good CA one, let me know! :)

      December 11, 2014
  • Rexy

    This is perfect! I hate making something and having to throw out the stuff that’s made along with it :) I love finding uses for the other stuff that gets made too.
    Thank you for putting this up!

    December 12, 2014
  • Kim

    Hi Molly, thank you for your expertise on traditional foods. I have recently started purchasing raw milk and would love to use it for other things besides drinking. Can I make the yogurt myself before I make the whey? Thanks!

    January 26, 2015
    • Molly Chester


      February 12, 2015

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