Easy lacto-fermented whey pickles, or a whey of fortune

whey-fermented pickles

If you enter my grandparents’ house, you would be hard pressed to see the back porch. Even though a direct corridor crosses their house and leads you directly to it, it remains the stuff of legends. Mounds of what can only be referred to as “stuff” block the way: family photographs in oversized picture frames, DIYd furniture with various hooks, levers and cushions, and rows upon rows of drying laundry, hanging from haphazardly strung wires. Whey pickles line the shelves of the fridge, and their cupboards are full of bizarre candy no one dares to eat, manufactured in an unknown Middle Eastern country, or in Russia sometime between 1980 and 2010. In a word, my grandparents can be lovingly described as thrifty; not-so-lovingly, as hoarders.

Whey-pickled carrots

Having grown up in their home, both my mother and I have a severe aversion to clutter. Shredding paper remains one of my greatest joys, and I look forward to the seasonal closet cleaning the way some children anticipate Christmas. And yet, my grandparents’ influence remains with me in one huge, indelible way: I simply cannot throw out good food.

whey-fermented pickles

Few things bring me as much culinary joy as finding use for leftovers. So, if you were left with some whey after making lactose-free yogurt, you know that I simply cannot, in good conscience, let you throw it away. Plus, you really shouldn’t – this whey packs a serious punch of good bacteria, and can tremendously help those dealing with Candida (yeast) overgrowth, or any stomach problems. It is also a great flavouring agent! And the good news is, using it up is as easy as throwing vegetables into a mixture.

Make these whey pickles in minutes, and enjoy them for weeks – their flavour only gets better as they sit in your fridge.

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Whey use #1: Lacto-fermented (pickled) vegetables (no processing required)
Use your leftover whey from ricotta or yogurt making for these easy homemade whey-pickled vegetables
Recipe type: Preserves
Cuisine: Russian
  • 4 tablespoons of whey
  • ½-1 cup of filtered water (or as much as needed to top your jar)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups worth of chopped sturdy vegetables of your choice – cauliflower, carrots, onions, peppers, broccoli, or a mix thereof
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 tablespoon of the herb of your choice - oregano, tarragon, basil, or 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 1 1-litre jar, or glass container with a lid
  1. Prepare a clean jar.
  2. Chop into large chunks or spears enough sturdy vegetables to fill two cups. Use any combination of cauliflower, carrots, onions, bell peppers and broccoli, though you can also use any of these separately (in the photos above I used carrots and onions).
  3. If using cauliflower or broccoli, separate into small florets, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
  4. If using carrots or bell peppers, cut into spears.
  5. If using onions, cut in half at the root, and then slice each half horizontally into quarters, or into thin strips.
  6. Combine the filtered water, whey and salt in a separate jar, and stir well. Taste the solution – it should taste briny.
  7. Pack the jar with the vegetables, herbs and garlic cloves, until they reach about 1 inch from the mouth of the jars.
  8. Pour your brine solution over your vegetables, completely submerging them. Top with more water if necessary.
  9. Cover your jar with a lid.
  10. Leave it a dark corner of your kitchen counter for two to four days (the duration of their fermentation will depend on the temperature in your home). I place mine in a dark kitchen cabinet.
  11. Wait a couple of days before you begin tasting your pickles. Your lacto-fermented vegetables will be done when they taste good to you (I like mine about four days in during winter, but summer times will be substantially shorter).
  12. At this point, transfer your pickled vegetables in the fridge. They can last for a while in the fridge, but I’m sure you’ll eat them long before they spoil.
  13. Much on them as they are, serve as part of an appetizer platter with good dip or hummus, or use in your favourite burger.
- Add your whey to soups, chilis, and stews, as a substitute to some of the broth. No more than one cup though - it can get quite sour.
- Add whey to potatoes before mashing, for a tangier take on this creamy staple.
- Substitute some (or all) of the water in baked goods with whey.


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