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Whey (also called whey, cheese milk, Schotte, Sirte, Waddike, Wedicke or Zieger ) is the watery greenish-yellow residual liquid that is created during cheese production . It is the liquid part that can be secreted into cheese or quark after the milk has coagulated. There are two types of whey: the sweet whey (also called rennet whey ), which is produced when milk is thickened with rennet to make cheese, and the sour whey , which is produced when milk is broken down by lactic acid bacteria .


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Whey in the manufacture of various dairy products

Whey consists of 94% water, 4 to 5% milk sugar and is almost fat-free. It also contains lactic acid , vitamins B 1 , B 2 (this causes the greenish color) and B 6, as well as potassium , calcium , phosphorus and other minerals , but above all 0.6 to 1% whey protein . Whey contains significantly less protein than milk. In particular, unlike milk, it does not contain casein . In milk, on the other hand, casein is the main protein. Sweet whey has a pH value of 5.6 or more, acid whey 5.1 or less.



Today whey is mainly used in pig farming , especially as whey powder . Many cheese dairies therefore work closely with pig fatteners.

Cheese making

Sweet whey is also used to make whey cheese . Whey cheese is almost fat-free. The flaky mass that settles on the surface after the sweet whey is heated is the starting material for the production of whey cheese. The sweet whey is often acidified. The cheeses ricotta , ziger , Corsican brocciu and Norwegian brown cheese are well known .


Whey is added to various soft drinks as a whey product (e.g. Rivella , which contains the milk serum, or Lattella ). It is the raw material for the production of milk serum, an almost colorless liquid that is obtained by separating the proteins still present in the whey. Milk serum only contains the water-soluble components of milk: lactose, minerals and water-soluble vitamins. If you add fruit concentrate, spices, aromas and sugar to the milk serum, you get a refreshing milk serum drink. Recently, various beverage manufacturers have also been making cola, apple spritzer and orange lemonades from whey in order to circumvent the German deposit law with the whey mix product . The beverages made with the whey are no longer deposit-free according to a judgment of the LG Düsseldorf from October 29, 2010 (Az. 38 O 26/10), because the ingredients in the end product do not differ at all or hardly at all from similar soft drinks are made without whey.

Other uses for nutrition

Many strength athletes use whey protein to build muscle. Because whey protein is digested quickly and is therefore quickly available to the body, it is often used in pre- and post-workout shakes.

The protein-rich whey powder found, for example in bakeries , in the finished food production and the dairies even application.

If sweet whey is stirred and reduced at high heat, the slightly caramelized sig is created , which is used regionally as a confectionery.

Spa and wellness product

In the 18th and 19th centuries, whey (already known in the Middle Ages) was touted as the elixir of life , which had a mildly laxative effect. Numerous sanatoriums were set up to cure “diseases of civilization ” of the urban population, even lung diseases and tuberculosis. Around 1890 there were around thirty whey health resorts in Switzerland , but as early as 1900 whey was considered useless. The whey cure was also part of the program and part of the life reform movement that was virulent around 1900 .

Recently it has experienced a certain revival in the fasting and wellness offer; see the article whey fasting .

Industrial use

In the cosmetics whey is also used. Most of it is also temporarily stored as dry powder for industrial use.

Whey can also be used as a fertilizer . Whey is also used as a complex medium (carbon source) in biotechnology. In addition, whey is used as a nitrogen carrier in the construction industry to reduce the flammability of the insulating material wood chips in energy-saving houses. The wood chips are soaked in whey and dried.


  • Erich Funck: History of whey and milk sugar. In: Milchwissenschaft 3, 1948, Issue 6, pp. 152-160.
  • HG Kessler: Food and bioprocess engineering, dairy technology . A. Kessler, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-9802378-4-2 .
  • Quirinus Reichen: whey cure. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • T. Sienkiewicz, C. Riedel: Whey and Whey Utilization . Th. Mann, Gelsenkirchen-Buer 1990, ISBN 3-7862-0086-6 .
  • P. Walstra, JTM Wouters, TJ Geurts: Dairy Science and Technology . CRC Press, Boca Raton FL 2006, ISBN 0-8247-2763-0 .

Web links

Commons : Whey  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: whey  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. whey on peter-hug.ch
  2. whey on duden.de
  3. Gregory D. Miller: Handbook of Dairy Foods and Nutrition , Third. Edition, CRC Press, 2006, ISBN 978-1-420-00431-1 , p. 39.
  4. Full text of the judgment of the LG Düsseldorf from October 29, 2010, Az. 38 O 26/10
  5. Gundolf Keil : "blutken - bloedekijn". Notes on the etiology of the hyposphagma genesis in the 'Pommersfeld Silesian Eye Booklet' (1st third of the 15th century). With an overview of the ophthalmological texts of the German Middle Ages. In: Specialized prose research - Crossing borders. Volume 8/9, 2012/2013, pp. 7–175, here: p. 21.
  6. Quirinus Reichen: Whey cure. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .