Welcome to the latest installment of our Selene River Press author demonstration videos. This time around Monica Corrado, the “GAPS chef” herself, gives SRP managing editor Danielle LeBaron a lesson in dripping whey. Enjoy!
To watch the demonstration, click here or see the video at the end of this post.
Danielle LeBaron. Hello and welcome to our Selene River Press author videos. I’m Danielle, the managing editor at Selene River Press. Today I’m excited to talk to Monica Corrado, the “GAPS chef” and author of The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet. This is going to be really fun. We’re doing a different kind of video in which she gives us a live demonstration of all things whey—how to create it, why it’s important. So Monica, thank you so much for being here today. How are you?
Monica Corrado: I am well Danielle, thank you for the opportunity. I am thrilled to be here.
Danielle Good. We’re happy to have you. Now I’m not going to talk much more. I just want to jump right into your knowledge and this wonderful video. So please take it away.
Monica: Okay, hi everyone! I love to teach, so I was thrilled when Selene River Press and Danielle asked me to do a little demo for you. My favorite place to be is in the kitchen, and so I thought we’d start with something basic to a lot of traditional cooking techniques, and certainly to the GAPS diet. I thought I’d start with whey. What is whey? Well, here’s a jar. I’m going to show you how to actually drip this.
Whey is what we call a simple protein. Everyone’s looking for more protein these days. You’ve probably seen protein powders of whey, which is a no-go. We don’t want to be eating processed foods. We want to avoid them. It’s a very easy thing to make your own way. You can drip it from yogurt. You can drip it from kefir. Or you can allow raw milk to separate to get your own whey. It will be full of beautiful, good bacteria. It will be, as I said, a simple protein. And it’s really, really easy to do.
The other thing I want to talk about in terms of whey—not only can you use it as a starter, but you can also make your own yogurt by dripping whey. You can make your own cultured cream by dripping whey, using that as a starter. So it has dual possibilities. There are two things I love about whey. One is that it is high protein. As a standalone, you can drink it all day long. It’s also really wonderful to firm the bowels or firm the stool. I know we’re in a kitchen, but in the GAPS diet we talk about things like how high-protein dairy helps people with diarrhea or loose stools. You could sip whey all day. It’s a home remedy. If you get a stomach bug, sip whey all day. It’s a home remedy. It will help repopulate your gut with beautiful lactic acid, bacteria, and protein, and it’s very easily absorbed by the body. So cool.
And then there’s that second piece, which is to use whey as a starter. Whey has lots of incredible attributes just as a standalone and also as a starter (or inoculant) to culture dairy, to make lacto-fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or pickles, or anything else you’d like to ferment. And whey is also used to make grains more digestible, believe it or not.
Danielle: I didn’t know that one. That’s pretty cool.
Monica: Yes. Whey is an amazing substance. And here it is just sitting in a jar. I keep some in my refrigerator You can keep whey in the refrigerator in a glass jar up to six months.
Danielle LeBaron: Wow, that’s incredible.
Monica Corrado: Just drip a little whey, which I’ll show you in a moment. Or let raw milk separate—only raw, never pasteurized. You don’t let pasteurized milk sit on the counter. It will putrefy, and that would be really bad for you.
Danielle LeBaron: Doesn’t sound pleasant.
Monica Corrado: Only raw milk can separate to get whey. In any case, we use whey in traditional cooking. Weston A. Price uses whey. The Nourishing Traditions cookbook uses whey everywhere—soaking grains, soaking beans, making ferments, making yogurt. And drinking it as a tonic. It’s wonderfully versatile. And in terms of making grains more digestible…you know that oatmeal we all love to eat?
Monica: It’s quote-unquote “heart healthy,” and it really is. It’s also a nervine, meaning it calms the system. I think we should all be eating oatmeal right now. Unless you have a leaky gut. No grains if you have a leaky gut. No grains on GAPS. But if you’re not on GAPS, and you’re just trying to eat well, you can soak those oats in whey overnight, and all of a sudden, they are digestible and so much better for you. They won’t spike your blood sugar. It’s an amazing thing. If people want that information, they can get my beautiful bean and grain chart, available through Selene River Press.
Danielle: It is a beautiful chart.
Monica: Yes, it is! Thanks for that. So let’s go ahead and get started. Easy-peasy. What you need is some kind of vessel for catching the whey. I have a 4-cup (1 quart) liquid measure. You could also use a bowl, a pot, a jar, whatever you what you want to do. Get something that will fit a strainer, otherwise known as a fine mesh sieve. Hopefully, try to find one that’s conical. See how it comes to kind of a point? A lot of strainers are just round. But if you can get one that’s pointed, the gravity will make the whey drip faster, if you will.
You must then line it with something, because yogurt would go straight through there, as you can see. What we want to do is catch all of the milk solids in the top. And we want to allow all of the whey to drip to the bottom. And you want to make sure that you catch as many of the milk solids as possible because we don’t want them in the whey. If you get milk solids in your ferment, things will get a little wacky, if that makes sense.
Danielle: Yes, it totally does. So does it matter what the sieve is made of? Yours looks more like a metal material. I’ve seen some that are softer, almost like a plasticky material. Does it matter which kind you use, if you’re covering it?
Monica: No, it really doesn’t matter which kind you use if you’re covering it. When I teach, I try to tell people keep as much plastic out of your life as possible—especially the kitchen, because of endocrine disrupters, phthalates, all sorts of things. But this is something where the plastic won’t be touched, as you said. It will be lined. Also, it won’t be heated.
Danielle: That’s a good point.
Monica: In many cases, the problem with plastic is the heat. That’s when we have things that leach. So mine is metal. It’s an old timey one, and I’ve been using it for a long time. Love this guy. You almost can’t find it anymore. That’s why, if you find a conical one, get it. Because it will help the dripping process happen a little more easily.
You want to line it with something such as cheesecloth. Not bleached cheesecloth. This is kind of a beige color. You can also see through it…Hello, Danielle!
Danielle, laughing: Hello!
Monica: In any case, cheesecloth is also pretty porous. So we’re gonna use several layers. This has actually already doubled because of the way it was packed, and I’m doubling it again. This is four layers of cheesecloth right here. That’s probably going to be enough for now. But when you use raw milk yogurt (homemade yogurt made from raw milk) or homemade kefir, it will be far runnier than something that you buy in the store. So what you’ll need to do is really line it. With just four layers, you’ll see all this white stuff in the bottom. What happened? Well, what happened was the yogurt went through, because there were too many holes in the mesh. So for raw milk yogurt or raw milk kefir that you made yourself, you’re going to want to double that amount. Or get one of grandma’s napkins—this is literally one of my grandmother’s napkins.
Monica: Mm-hmm. Get one of grandma’s or great-grandma’s napkins. This is just a beautiful linen napkin, right? But if you do this, make sure you don’t wash your napkins in smelly detergents.
Monica: Right? Because that would be yucky. No Tide, obviously. I hope people don’t have that in their house anyway. Buy a nice “green” detergent that has no scent if you use a linen napkin. It’s such a great idea because linen napkins are so much thicker. You just need one layer. Nothing’s going through here. So bring grandma back in the kitchen. Use something that she had that you’re not going to use anymore. It might be frayed, it might be stained, we don’t care. It still has a great use in being able to drip whey.
In the Culturing Dairy part of my book—it’s a big segment of the book—I talk about all the ways to drip whey, all the methods, how to do it, why to do it. And I give you options to drip away. You can use cheesecloth, or an old linen towel or napkin. You can also use a nut milk bag, as long as it isn’t made of plastic mesh. Because that would be too porous, and everything would just run through it. If you have an old nut milk bag made of fabric, those are much better. So you have some options.
You also just need some kind of vessel to hold the whey. A lovely liquid measures, a bowl, a jar. You just want to make sure that this fabulous strainer fits in it so will catch your yogurt or kefir. And then you line it, as I’ve lined this with cheesecloth.
Next, you open the jar—or open the container if you’re using yogurt that you bought in the store. Which should be organic, absolutely. There’s just too much garbage in conventional milk at this point. We won’t go into it right now, but I do cover that in the book: Why organic? Why pasture-raised?
You’re looking for organic, grass-fed, or pasture-raised. It’ll say right on the label. And if you’re buying yogurt to drip, it should be whole milk. None of this skim business. Why? I always say God doesn’t make skim milk cows.
Danielle: I like that.
Monica: Right? And we need the fat to absorb the calcium from yogurt. We all hopefully get that by now. Ditch that skim-milk zero-percent whatever yogurt you’re eating. Get full-fat, organic, grass-fed. No fillers—you don’t want any pectin in there. You don’t want to carrageenan. You don’t want any locust bean gum, carob bean gum—the things they’re putting in yogurt these days to thicken them so that you like the mouthfeel.
If you’re buying yogurt, you want organic, grass-fed, whole milk. And plain—not strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate, whatever. And no fillers. That’s what you’re looking for if you’re going to buy it.
Danielle: So this will work with non-raw milk yogurt as well? Obviously, the raw milk is better, but if I don’t have access to this, pasteurized will still work?
Monica: Absolutely, yes. You can get whey from commercial yogurt. You can even make your own yogurt with pasteurized milk, if you need to. I go through all these things in the book. How this? Why that?
Raw milk will always be nutritionally superior, then pasteurized. That’s just kind of a rule.
But if pasteurized is what you can get, because maybe you’re traveling, right?
Danielle: That’s what I was thinking.
Monica: Maybe you don’t have access to cows that are down the road, or a cow share, or you don’t live in a state that has raw milk available today. No problem. Get the best quality pasteurized you can find at the store. If it meets the criteria, that’s what you’re looking for.
Danielle: Awesome. Yes, I’m excited to see this.
Monica: So easy-peasy. What do we need? A spatula. Some yogurt. And then in we go. It’s not difficult at all. I’m just going ahead and emptying out the yogurt. I’m putting it into the lined strainer. And depending on the thickness of the yogurt, it will either come through quickly, or it will sit there for a little while. The yogurt that I used was very thick. I’m not sure how fast it’s going to come through. Let’s see if we’re starting…not yet! This yogurt might have been better with less cheesecloth. But what will eventually happen is that it will start dripping through. And it will come out like this whey that I’ve already stored, which still smells like…nothing.
Danielle: What does that mean?
Monica: It should not have a strong smell at all. Remember, we’re dripping yogurt. Yogurt doesn’t have a smell really.
Danielle: That’s fair.
Monica: So it should smell like yogurt, or smell like almost nothing. As it ages, the smell will get stronger. And then you will need to either use it because you don’t mind that the stronger flavor. Or you can go ahead and start over. Get another batch.
But again, yogurt shouldn’t smell like anything. If you were in my class right now I’d give you some to drink so you could taste it. And you would see that there’s no smell, no flavor. If you like the taste of yogurt, you’ll like the taste of whey. It’s very mild.
Monica: Yeah. So we’re still watching here.
Danielle: Can you help it along the way? Can you take your spatula and kind of squish it in? Or is that a no-no?
Monica: Well, I mean, we could. This is really just about the texture of this yogurt. I’ll show you how incredibly thick it is. This is not a Greek yogurt. Remember, Greek yogurt, or what they sell as Greek yogurt, is just regular yogurt that’s been strained of whey.
Monica: They collect the whey, and they give you the yogurt with no whey in it. That’s Greek yogurt. Sometimes they use actual cultures that are from Greece, to make a certain flavor. Greek yogurt has a certain flavor. And sometimes they just strain out the whey so it’s thicker, and you get more yogurt.
Danielle: That makes sense. Greek yogurt is always toted as being higher in protein, but if you’re taking out the whey wouldn’t that be the opposite?
Monica: Well, it’s going to be higher in casein, which is the other protein. They take out the whey, which is the simple protein. Milk for mammals has both whey and casein. Whey is that simple protein, meaning simple in structure. It’s easy for the body to absorb. Most people with dairy issues or sensitivities do not have a problem with whey. Some people do. Most don’t.
Most problems are with casein, which is in Greek yogurt. Casein is a long chain—complex is a better word. It’s a complex protein. If you have any issues in your gut—meaning your gut is not working optimally, or it’s just not doing what it’s supposed to be doing because of increased intestinal permeability (which in slang we call “leaky gut”)—then you won’t be able to break down casein. You won’t be able to digest it. Casein is usually the issue for people with allergies. A dairy allergy is different than a sensitivity. But if someone says they have a dairy allergy, they are allergic to the casein.
That’s why there’s been a lot of talk about certain breeds of cows that produce a type of casein that is easier for humans to digest.
Monica: These are the traditional milking cows, if you will. They are the Jerseys, the Guernseys, the Swiss brands, the Ayrshires. All the traditional dairy cows. In the U.S., we have lots and lots of black and white cows. Even an organic company, which I will not name, uses a black and white cow on all of their organic dairy labels. (If you think for a moment you’ll know who it is.) Milk from black and white cows is not something we want to be drinking. Those are Holsteins, and they are bred for volume, not for quality. And the casein in them tends to be harder on the system.
Danielle: That’s fascinating. So I want to come back to how, once you strain it, it’s Greek yogurt. Once it’s completely strained, what can you do with the yogurt that is left?
Monica: Dr. Natasha, in the GAPS diet, calls it cottage cheese. This is not something we would call it. In the U.S., cottage cheese is a totally different thing. I call it yogurt cheese. Makes sense, right? I made yogurt. I dripped out the way. I’ve got cheese. (You could also call it kefir cheese, if you drip that.) You can eat it just like cream cheese. It is more like cream cheese.
Danielle: Hmm… interesting.
Monica: It’s spreadable. Use it if you want to make a cream cheese pie for dessert, with a little vanilla, a little maple syrup. Whip it up, put it in a nice graham cracker or nut crust. Yummy. If you eat bagels, which I hope are sourdough, or nut bread that you make yourself, or sourdough bread, you can use it as cream cheese. Plain, or with honey, maple syrup, or a little bit of vanilla for more of a sweet cheese. Or you could make it savory. You could add some roasted garlic or some reconstituted sundried tomatoes…and now you’ve got a yummy, savory thing.
It’s not that you drip this and you’re like, “Okay, I’ve got my whey, toss out what’s in the cloth.” We don’t want you to toss what’s in the cloth. We want you to use it.
Monica: Save both! As I said, the whey will stay in your refrigerator up to six months. If it starts molding, that means you contaminated it with your hand. You either double-dipped, or you drank right out of the jar and then put it back in—not a good idea. This is called contamination. If you get mold, you want to toss it. Not worth saving. As for this beautiful cheese, you’ll be able to save it in a glass jar with a tight lid for a month or a couple of weeks. I mean, I hope you eat it faster that. If you ever see any pink mold—usually it’s pink mold that happens on a cheese—if you see that, don’t trust it. It’s not worth getting sick.
Danielle: These are amazing tips. This has been awesome to learn. I’ve been asking you plenty of questions, but if any of our viewers have questions, how can they reach out to you?
Monica: They can go to my website, SimplyBeingWell.com, and fill out the contact form (or send an email to Monica@simplybeingwell.com). Happy to hear from them. My new classes are on the website, the way to get this beautiful book is on there. All of my Facebook groups and things like that are available—
We do have some! It’s just a little, but it’s dripping.
Danielle: It’s coming through!
Monica: It’s coming through! And again, do not be discouraged. It will take time. We didn’t even talk about that. If it’s a thick yogurt, like you see right here, you want to leave it out 12 hours, 24 hours—
Danielle: So you don’t need to refrigerate it?
Monica: Nope, you can leave this out on the counter. I like to put a plate or something on top just to keep out physical contaminants like dust, or just to keep it clean. But this can stay on your counter for 24 hours. Even longer.
Danielle: So I can leave pasteurized yogurt on the counter?
Monica: Yes. Pasteurized yogurt is full of good bacteria that would be protective.
Monica: Yes. You could leave this out on the counter. The longer you leave it out, the more whey will drip, and the firmer the cheese and the top will get. It’s all up to you. If you want to drip it for eight hours, it will be a little bit creamier. If you want to make it more of a firmer cheese, go longer. No problem. All of it is good. Just pour the way into a jar, and store it in the fridge. You’re good to go.
Danielle: This has been an amazing video. I feel like I’ve learned so much watching this. I’m just thinking about going and getting my organic yogurt and trying it. So thank you so much. I appreciate you being here!
As Monica said, please make sure you check out her book, The Complete Cooking Techniques for the GAPS Diet. It’s full of so many other amazing recipes and information. We’re excited to do more videos like this in the future. Please reach out to Monica directly if you have any questions. She would love to get in contact with you. Thanks everyone.