Can I Use Whey Left Over From Straining Yogurt to Make More Yogurt?

using whey to make yogurt

Making yogurt at home is a magical experience when it works right.

Making yogurt at home is not an exact science, which means it can be accomplished seemingly a million and one ways. If you’ve never tried to make yogurt before, see this post to get started using my method. After you’ve made a successful batch, come back and read about this variation. This is my answer to a lot of questions I’ve been getting lately about recycling whey. (FYI for yogurt newbies:  Whey is that yellowish liquid that rises to the top of yogurt. Many people stir it back in, but I prefer to drain it off. The result is Greek yogurt….and lots of leftover whey.)

Can whey drained from yogurt be used as a starter for more yogurt? YES! Add 2 tablespoons of whey to 2 quarts of heated and cooled milk.  (More or less whey may also work–this is just what I do.) Whisk it well and incubate as usual.

In the picture above and below, I made the yogurt on the left with whey as the starter. The yogurt on the right was made with my own homemade yogurt as a starter. The results were identical in taste and texture.

Whey as starter-22.jpg

Why you might want to try this:

  1.  If you make very much Greek yogurt, you will have more whey than you can use. Look here for more ways to use whey.
  2.  Now you won’t have to “waste” any of your precious homemade yogurt as a starter. Instead, you can enjoy eating every last drop.
  3.  Always save a little whey to make your next batch so you don’t have worry about keeping some yogurt back to use as starter.
  4.  It’s easier to mix whey into your heated-and-cooled milk than regular yogurt. No lumps.

I also get a lot of questions about the shelf-life of whey. In my experience, it’s good for at least 3 weeks. It may last longer, but since I make yogurt twice a week, there’s no reason for me to keep it around.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat May 2, 2017 at 4:30 pm

I tried using whey…. It did NOT work. What went wrong?

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Pam Carlson June 27, 2016 at 5:11 am

I have a yogurt maker in which for which I do not do anything to the milk before adding the yogurt starter and pushing start. Do you know if I could use the whey in the machine the same way as I use some of my yogurt as a starter?

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Paula June 27, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Pam,
I would certainly think so. Should be no difference whatsoever.

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Kathryn June 17, 2016 at 2:24 pm

I don’t make yogurt as often as you, so can I freeze the whey and still use it as a starter….at a later date?

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Paula June 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Although I have never frozen whey, I have frozen yogurt to use as started and it worked great. I can only imagine that whey would also freeze well.

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Allen Bennett September 18, 2015 at 9:41 pm

In making yogurt from all heavy cream (three pints), would I get enough whey to start another batch?

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Paula September 23, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Hi Allen,
I’ve never made yogurt from heavy cream but it doesn’t take much whey (a couple tablespoons?) to start another batch so I’m guessing you would have enough.

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lolo July 2, 2015 at 3:38 pm

thank you for sharing these great info 🙂

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Tina Yeamans June 26, 2015 at 10:45 am

Thanks for the tip! I started using whey for the starter last week, and it was perfect!

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Paula June 27, 2015 at 9:47 pm

Cool!

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Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) September 21, 2014 at 11:32 am

Very interesting experiment. I must try this. And you are right about whey being easier to incorporate into the milk.

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Shawna September 21, 2014 at 10:40 am

Love your blog Paula. I am wondering if the whey can be frozen. I live alone (well,with my three dogs:) and it’s a rare happening when I make yogurt and anything else in the same week. I just don’t cook much for just myself, but would love to try using the whey in pizza dough, etc., but like I said, it would probably go bad before I could use it.

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judith September 21, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Yes, you can freeze the whey, Shawna. I have done it for both yogurt and bread making. I also use the whey from making what I call Hungarian cottage cheese.

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Paula September 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Shawna,
I haven’t tried freezing whey but I have frozen yogurt to use as starter and it works great so don’t see why it wouldn’t be the same for whey. Perhaps you saw in the comments that Judith says, yes, you can do it.

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Debra September 21, 2014 at 9:03 am

I make handcrafted soap and substituted yogurt whey for water in a batch. It was very interesting. The soap smelled like fresh bread and felt lovely on my skin.

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Paula September 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

Hi Debra,
Making soap? That’s a new one for me. Must add that to my ongoing list of things you can do with yogurt whey.

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judith September 21, 2014 at 2:28 am

Not only that, you can also use whey as the liquid part in bread making. Gives bread a sourdough taste without having to make a starter.
Saltspring Island ,BC, Canada.

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Paula September 21, 2014 at 9:19 am

Thanks for the reminder about using the whey in bread, Judith. I especially like it in french bread and pizza dough.

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diane September 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm

this is wonderful news>> see never to old to learn and never new you could use whey in next batch omg dahhhhhhhhh been making my own yogurt for about 4 months now
thanks for sharing
Ontario Canada here

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