Distilleries turn leftover cheese into vodka to reduce waste

When it comes to combating food waste, all ideas are welcome. One of them is starting to find its way into the cheese sector: converting “whey” into strong alcohol. We explain all about this unusual trick.

Have you ever tasted whey, more commonly known as “whey”? This liquid deposit that forms after the milk has coagulated often ends up in the trash. And in astronomical amounts, if we take into account the annual production of cheese products in the world, which, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, would exceed 20 million tons.

Initiatives to reduce waste

According to a 2018 study published by American researchers at the University of Oregon, up to 90% of the milk entering a cheese factory is converted to whey. The latter can be expensive to landfill and potentially harmful to the environment. And if big companies in the industry can afford the equipment to process some of that whey into protein powders and other nutritional products, “the equipment is too expensive for most artisanal dairies”underlines the research.

However, in recent years, several innovative initiatives have emerged to reduce this waste in this particular area. For example, the American distillery in California offers Wheyward Spirit to convert whey into vodka. How?’ Or ‘What? By recovering the lactose sugar present in the whey and then fermenting it into alcohol.

A simple and effective technique for recycling cheese scraps, which is also less water-intensive, as it mainly consists of whey (as well as sugars, proteins, vitamins and minerals).

Gin, vodka or even ricotta: the multiple lives of “whey”

Wheyward Spirit is not the only company that has started with this waste-free technique. Several independent producers around the world have also started producing distilled alcohol from whey. This is the case, for example, with the Dufour family, based in Charlevoix (Quebec), which produces bottles of gin and vodka from the whey produced by the family cheese farm.

Other producers use the whey to transform it into new cheeses! This is particularly the case with the Takamaka cheese factory, a Reunionese company specializing in the production of goat cheese, which launched a crowdfunding campaign last fall. His project? Equip yourself with a pasteurization tank to convert the whey into ricotta.

(ETX Daily Up)

Leave a Comment