If you’ve seen my recipe for the Best Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise Ever, but you don’t know how to obtain the fresh liquid whey (the probiotics contained in fresh liquid whey are used to lacto-ferment mayonnaise, grains, vegetables, etc.) then here are detailed instructions:

When you extract the liquid whey from yoghurt, you automatically get cream cheese left over! And like everything, after doing it once, you’ll realize how very simple it is. I personally do not consume cow dairy, but you can also use goat, coconut, or soy milk yoghurt.
Note: If using an alternate source of dairy, you can still strain it to get a firmer “cheese” out of it, but you will not get whey from coconut or soy yoghurt.

1. Line a sieve with cheesecloth, or a finely woven kitchen towel, or a coffee filter and place the lined sieve over a large bowl. Empty a large carton of whole milk yogurt (2 – 3 cups of yogurt) into the lined sieve and leave it sit there for an hour as the whey liquid drips out into the bowl below.

2. Then gather up the sides of the cheesecloth and tie them around a long wooden spoon, so the bundled yogurt is now hanging from the wooden spoon. Then balance the wooden spoon across the rim of a tall jug and let the yogurt continue to hang and drip out all the whey. Leave it hanging like this for 3-4 hours. The added height uses gravity to help extract more of the fresh liquid whey from the yoghurt.

3. In the meantime, take the whey that has already dripped out into the large bowl (that was under the sieve) and put it in a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid and place it in the fridge. You can use this whey to soak (lacto-ferment) your mayonnaise, porridge oats, quinoa and other grains. If your jar is sterile, the whey will likely keep for 3 months in the fridge.

4. After the yogurt has hung over the tall jug for 3-4 hours, pour the whey that has collected in the jug into the same glass jar of whey in your fridge. The smooth, creamy cheese that is now left in the cheesecloth is now yogurt cream cheese! Put this into a glass or ceramic container with a lid and refrigerate.

This cream cheese can be used as is to replace sour cream, or to make salad dressings or dips, like Jini’s Ranch Dressing, or mixed with garlic and herbs and spread on crackers or breads. Here’s a quick recipe for herbed cream cheese:

Herb Yogurt Cream Cheese Recipe

  • 3/4 cup yogurt cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil (or parsley, or cilantro)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • Optional: 1 – 2 teaspoons olive oil

Mix all ingredients (except olive oil) together in a small bowl.

Then, if you want a looser, creamier consistency, add the olive oil, one teaspoon at a time until desired texture is reached.

Serve with crackers or cut-up vegetables.

As I already mentioned the whey can then be used to make lacto-fermented mayonnaise, lacto-fermented vegetables and to soak your porridge, quinoa or other grains (to pre-digest and remove phytates).

Which Yogurt Should I Use?

A superb source of protein, calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus and vitamin B 12, yogurt actually contains more calcium and protein than milk. It’s also naturally rich in nutrients that feed the good bacteria in our digestive system, with the beneficial bacteria cultures added during production.

Yogurt can be made from soy milk, coconut milk, cow’s milk or goat’s milk, in whole (full fat), low-fat or skim versions. Goat milk yogurt has smaller fat and protein globules than cow’s milk, making it easier for some people to digest.

If you consume cow or goat milk, please consider how the animals are treated, and how long they get to keep their babies. See this post for information and ideas about more humane dairy practices.

Original post January 2012. Most recently updated June 2020.