Where does it comes from?
In many Indian households, paneer/ chenna is prepared at home. In addition to its use as paneer for a vegetable curry, chenna is widely used for making sweets such as sandesh or chenna payas. We often like the soft texture of fresh homemade paneer.
Although there are many uses of the curdled milk , we often tend to discard the liquid that remains behind after separating the curd / coagulated milk.This practice is prevalent merely out of ignorance.
We want to share with you the health benefits of this precious liquid and also suggest ways to use it!
Lets first talk about milk used for cheese making and its components.
What all does the whey water contain?
Proteins: there are two protein constituents present in milk, casein and whey . Casein is the fraction of the milk protein that gets coagulated (forms a curd-like semi solid mass) upon addition of acid . The water that is left behind after the curdling of milk contains all the whey.
Whey proteins have been considered to have the highest biological value which means that whey is the only form of protein that is absorbed 100% into the body. This explains why most bodybuilders and athletes take whey supplements to build muscle mass.
Calcium : Calcium in milk acts as the glue that holds the proteins together. Some of this remains in your cheese and some of it is left behind in the whey water.
Lactose: milk contains a specific sugar molecule called lactose. this lactose is converted into lactic acid by bacteria added to milk while setting curds or while making cheese. Some of the lactose will always run off in the whey . This forms the food for the bacterial cultures to live on.
Bacteria : bacteria are naturally present in milk or are added during pasteurization. while they are involved in the process of curdling/ coagulation of milk, some of them do remain in the whey water and can continue the fermentation process if whey is kept warm
Minerals and Enzymes are also found in milk and these will support the bacteria, as well as take part in the protein and fat transitions which make a ripened cheese what it should be.
So basically, whey is obtained from milk and contains many of the important nutritional components of milk.
Several agents are used to curdle milk to make chenna/ panner at home:
Lemon juice : About 3 Tbsp for 500ml
Vinegar : abt 3 Tbsp for 500ml
BUttermilk : ⅓ to ¼ th cup for 500ml
Curd : 1/4th cup for 500ml
So if we see practically the use of vinegar or lemon juice for preparing chenna will give us an acidic/ sour tasting whey. this type of whey may have limited use for mostly juices, pizza dough , cosmetic use, etc
However, using curd or buttermilk can give a sweeter whey which can have a wide range of uses! We’ll have a look at some of the uses of whey water in our next post!
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