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Whey

Whey is a by-product of cheese making. The whey (whey liquid) contains, among other things, the serum or whey proteins. In addition, it contains soluble vitamins and minerals also found in milk. The proteins found in whey are very important, proteins are often separated from the whey liquid for example in protein fortified products. The washing liquid is used in the soft drink industry. Addition of fruit juice, sugar, flavorings and cream, among others, makes the obtained whey drinks look to the eye and taste like soda, milk or yogurt drinks, for example.

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Whey as a by-product

The basis for the production of cheese are the fats and proteins in the milk. Without these proteins, making cheese is not possible. Also, when making cheese, solids in the milk (proteins, fat and minerals) are separated from the liquid. This is done by adding rennet.

The rennet contains chymosin. Chymosin is a protein-splitting enzyme; it causes certain milk proteins to clump together. In addition, it enables the separation of curd and whey. The whey still contains many substances from the milk, including whey protein, milk sugar, vitamins and minerals. Thus, whey is a liquid byproduct of cheese production. The liquid has a yellow-green color and tastes slightly sour. Whey has about half the lactose compared to cow’s milk.

The origin of whey

About 9 liters of whey are produced per kilogram of cheese. The huge amount of whey was often a major problem for cheese producers. Decades ago, whey was still considered a waste product, just like the skimmed milk left over from butter production. When whey and skimmed milk turned out to be suitable artificial milk with which to raise animals, this only opened up new opportunities. Companies specialized in the production of veal and powdered milk appeared. Whey (powder) is also used today as a means of producing milk products for piglets, for example.

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