Video: Separating Whey from Plain Store Yogurt

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist Fermented Foods, VideosComments: 36

in its liquid and whole food form is the ideal starter for probiotic rich, health enhancing fermented foods and drinks.

Liquid whey is most easily and economically obtained from raw milk that has naturally soured, or clabbered, on the kitchen counter. Clabbered milk is a very useful item for the traditionally minded cook and has the consistency and taste of drinkable style yogurt. In this video, I show you how this process works.

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to raw milk which may seem to preclude the use of unprocessed, liquid whey for fermentation purposes as it is not commercially available.

The good news is that whey can easily be extracted from plain yogurt from the store or that you make yourself with pasteurized milk.

In the video below, I show you the very easy process for obtaining whey in its liquid, whole food form from a quart of plain yogurt. I also discuss what to do with the leftover yogurt cheese once the whey has been extracted (hint: it makes a delicious stuffing for large pasta shells or lasagna).

Of course, you are going to want to source the best quality plain yogurt your budget can afford, ideally grassfed organic yogurt. But, in a pinch, even lowfat yogurt from commercial brands like Dannon from the supermarket can be used as a source for all your whey needs.

Liquid whey will last in a glass mason jar in the refrigerator for about six months although the flavor will grow stronger and more pungent over time.

Powdered Whey No Substitute for the Real Thing

Please note that powdered whey is never an adequate substitute for whole, unprocessed, liquid whey that you naturally separate from a fermented dairy product like clabbered milk or yogurt. Drying and powderizing whey even at low temperatures denatures the delicate proteins and virtually eliminates its beneficial probiotic properties. This article discusses more on the dangers of protein powder.

Uses for Liquid Whey

Liquid whey is an important ingredient in homemade baby formula in addition to it’s indispensable role as an inoculant for fermented foods and drinks. Unprocessed liquid whey is also wonderful to mix with filtered water and a little orange juice for a healthy, additive free, sports drink naturally loaded with electrolytes.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


More Information

Why Kefir is a Healthier Choice than Yogurt

How to Make Yogurt Cheese (raw or pasteurized)

Picture Credit

Comments (36)

  • Amanda Stanley Waldner via Facebook

    I so appreciated this video!
    Thank you!

    February 13th, 2014 10:54 am Reply
  • Marie Freeman via Facebook

    I make kefir cheese save whey from kefir. Can be frozen to.

    February 13th, 2014 11:39 am Reply
    • Sharon Hill-Walker

      I was just about the ask if I could use whey from kefir cheese. Thanks for posting!

      August 13th, 2014 3:24 pm Reply
  • John

    Perfect timing! I just defrosted some Raw Goat milk which separated big big time! I was looking for what to do. Oh just a tidbit to get your hackels up this latest advice from the ADA…ADA Recommends Fluoride Toothpaste As Soon As First Tooth Comes In. Sarah, thanks for such a great blog!

    February 13th, 2014 11:57 am Reply
  • Maygan

    Do I need to set the yogurt out to get room temperature before straining out the whey?

    February 13th, 2014 12:03 pm Reply
    • Andresa


      No, you don’t need to bring the yogurt to room temp before beginning to strain the whey. Leaving it overnight – whether on the counter or in the frig – ensures all the whey has been drained.

      February 13th, 2014 1:17 pm Reply
  • Garage Gyms

    This is very useful information for me. I go through a ton of powdered whey. I have even more research to do now. Thanks for this

    February 13th, 2014 2:01 pm Reply
  • Calleen

    Sarah, I love your videos! I was wondering why it is OK to use the left over yogurt from making the whey, isn’t it pasteurized and therefore cause problems to your body systems? Sorry I just wanted to figure out how it is still good for your body not being from raw milk. Thanks for all your help.

    February 13th, 2014 2:39 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      It’s not optimal to use pasteurized cheese but it is fine to use if that is all a person has access to.

      February 13th, 2014 5:51 pm Reply
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  • amy

    Hi Sara! Thanks for this video. I’m lactose-intolerant, and yogurt is the only dairy product I can really handle. I’m wondering about the “yogurt cheese” leftover after this process – do you think it still has enough lactase that I could eat it, or are all those lactose-eating bacteria dripping out with the whey?

    Wikipedia says, “After the curdling process, lactose is found in the water-based portion (along with whey and casein), but not in the fat-based portion.” So, it seems that lactose is a water-soluble molecule, and would thus be concentrated in the whey (rather than the yogurt cheese). Hopefully much of the lactase stays in the yogurt cheese to deal with any leftover lactose?

    Does that sound right to you? If you have any further knowledge about the lactose content of “yogurt cheese,” please let me know! Thanks!

    February 13th, 2014 4:52 pm Reply
  • Julia

    Is it possible to use coconut yogurt like this to extract whey? And could you use coconut whey to ferment vegetables?

    February 13th, 2014 8:15 pm Reply
  • Kristi

    I just recently heard that it is possible to use powder from a probiotic capsule mixed with water for fermenting, though less desirable than using whey. At the time, I did not realize pasteurized, store bought yogurt would also be an acceptable method for making liquid whey. My question is, if this is your only option, would it be advisable to add some probiotic powder like Biokult to this yogurt-derived whey? If so, how much and at what point in the process?

    February 13th, 2014 11:33 pm Reply
  • Jean finch

    Hey Sarah,
    Long time follower, wanted to ask if I could make risotto in the crockpot with homemade bone broth and butter and cheese. Would that be a healthy dish because of good fat and broth with white rice?

    February 15th, 2014 1:16 pm Reply
  • Crystal Powers McMurray via Facebook

    I’m guessing this is from unpasteurized yogurt, right?

    February 15th, 2014 10:44 pm Reply
  • Kate

    Thank you for this. I made whey as you’ve described from raw milk but my whey isn’t as clear there still seems to be a layer of milk at the top. This was over a month ago. Would it still be good to use. Thank you.

    February 16th, 2014 1:49 pm Reply
  • Noeleen

    I actually accidentally discovered this a few weeks ago. I wanted to transition from conventional yogurt to grass-fed, organic yogurt, but I really love the texture of Greek yogurt. I bought a Greek-yogurt strainer from Amazon, set about straining 2 quarts of yogurt, and ended up with a perfect consistency of yogurt, and an awesome amount of whey to boot! I saved the whey this time around (I do this every week, so I end up with a lot of whey), and made some mayonnaise yesterday, with plans for other fermented foods to follow. If you enjoy the consistency of Greek yogurt, and want an easy way to get some whey, I would totally suggest going this route.

    February 23rd, 2014 11:07 pm Reply
  • Jess

    Wow I didn’t know you could do this with yogurt bought at the store. I’m curious to try it now, I actually have some in the fridge. Is there a rough estimate for how long it’ll stay fresh?

    March 7th, 2014 9:30 pm Reply
  • Kamila Straker

    Hi Sarah, nobody asked this but I was wondering if the whey you initially get is whitish and then it turns greenish. I see in your bowl that it looks a bit white but in the small Mason it looks more clear and greenish. I’m making it right now but my whey looks more white than green. Thanks!!!

    Making orangina a la Sarah after I make the whey. Thanks for what you’re doing.

    Kamila from Northern Virginia

    July 8th, 2014 8:56 pm Reply
  • Catherine Purington via Facebook

    After milk has clabbered and you strain off the whey, what do you do with the solids left over? Isn’t it interesting that spell check doesn’t recognize “clabbered”?

    August 5th, 2014 10:30 am Reply
  • Eo Theodorou McNeil via Facebook

    Alright! I wanted to make your beet kavas but did not know where to get liquid whey. Kept glancing around in markets looking for it. Thanks for posting.. I feel complete!

    August 5th, 2014 10:55 am Reply
  • Sandy Dau via Facebook

    The video was pointed more at the wall and I couldn’t see your left hand ot anything on the left side.

    August 5th, 2014 1:56 pm Reply
  • Suzanne Croll via Facebook

    I have strained my organic grass fed yogurt for a long time. I love the richness of the end product. I use the whey for the liquid in my Einkorn flour bread.

    August 5th, 2014 2:48 pm Reply
  • Sandy Dau via Facebook

    Hmm…it was pointed toward your right shoulder and cut off your left arm. Strange – I’ll try to watch it on another device. Thanks.

    August 5th, 2014 4:11 pm Reply
  • Ivan Pfmpe via Facebook

    Hi Sarah what do you think of the “No Whey camp” There are some who advocate against whey with vegetable based ferments?

    August 5th, 2014 4:46 pm Reply
  • Kelly

    Can you just had liquid whey to smoothies for health reasons. My kids don’t like fermented foods but I want to find a way to sneak it in. Will this work?

    August 6th, 2014 12:44 pm Reply
    • Andi

      Kelly, yes you can add liquid whey to smoothies; it gives it a little bit of a tang depending on what else you put in. You don’t need much; just a spoonful per serving.

      August 7th, 2014 1:13 pm Reply
  • Joan

    Nearly impossible to get plain yogurt. Will the whey from store buttermilk work? What about the whey from milk kefir?

    September 7th, 2014 5:44 pm Reply
  • Hank

    I understand that powdered protein may not be a substitute, but isn’t powdered yogurt whey completely different than powdered protein? I would assume that drying and powdering a yogurt whey is not the same.

    October 25th, 2014 2:17 pm Reply
  • Ken in Anaheim

    If making yogurt from dry milk powder can the whey be used as a starter ? Roughly how much whey to make a qt. of yogurt >

    November 24th, 2014 5:23 pm Reply
  • Tiffany

    Can I use full fat goat yogurt?

    January 5th, 2015 7:53 am Reply
  • Alicia

    I am making whey from some whole milk plain yogurt that I had bought. This is my first time, and I am noticing that the whey is a lot more milky looking than Sarah’s whey in the video. The yogurt is more runnier than other yogurts, and am wondering if some of it is straining thru? Sarah, or anyone with experience, am I able to use my cloudy whey for the orangina, and other fermented recipes, or do I need to find a thicker yogurt?! Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you! – Alicia

    February 18th, 2015 4:47 pm Reply
    • Andresa

      Alicia, you can strain the whey again to get a more clear end product. Also, make sure you’re using a tightly-woven cloth or similar product to do the straining. When I strain yogurt, I use either coffee filters or flour-sack towels, inside a strainer suspended over a glass bowl. I don’t think the thinness or thickness of the yogurt matters except maybe in how much whey you’ll get from the strained yogurt.

      February 22nd, 2015 4:41 pm Reply
  • mark

    I have made whey from raw milk and have looked at various ways of using it. I am interested in learning how did our forefathers make the first starters for their yogurts ect. We have today the ability to buy commercial products. I want to know how they did it in the old days. So I would like to know the origins of the cultures for yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream ect. Is whey made from clabbering milk suitable to make each of these products or do you need different cultures and if so, how would you make them if you did not have commercially available forms. Any references to books would also be helpful.
    Thank you.

    June 25th, 2015 4:06 pm Reply
  • Ilana

    Hi Sarah,

    I often make my own cottage cheese by boiling, then simmering whole milk with lemon juice, and straining out the whey. I was wondering if that whey is usable for lacto-fermentation as well, or if the heating process somehow makes it less desirable than the method you’ve shown.

    Thank you!

    July 7th, 2015 12:15 pm Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Unfortunately, cooked whey leftover from the cheesemaking process is not useful for lacto-fermentation or making homemade baby formula. It makes great fertilizer in the garden though!

      July 7th, 2015 1:49 pm Reply

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