Over the years, I have tried out dozens of different protein supplements, and the nutrition nerd in me always wondered if there was an easy way to make some healthy homemade whey.
Initially, it was more just out of interest, but then I started wondering if I could save myself some money. It also seemed to be a way to create something that I could be sure of the quality of milk products used.
Anyway, over a series of failed attempts, I eventually came up with a process that requires very few ingredients and equipment.
Let's get right into some details.
What Ingredients Will You need?
The most important ingredient you need to make homemade whey is fresh and, ideally, organic milk. I have tried it with other milk products like yogurt and cheese before, but the results were a bit inconsistent.
You'll also need a couple of lemons, and again, I would recommend that you buy some organic ones as well.
An optional item you can add at a later stage in the process is some natural flavors like vanilla essence or cocoa powder.
Try getting some raw cocoa from a health food store, as this will help you avoid creating a high-carb sugar drink.
Do You Need Specific Equipment?
The good news is that you can make homemade whey with just a few things that you would find in every kitchen.
First of all, you'll need a large 2-gallon pot and a food thermometer. A lemon press will make it a bit easier to squeeze out the lemon juice, but a bit of manual effort will work as well.
You'll also want to make sure you have a cheese strainer. I did try this with a linen cloth before, but it doesn't seem to work as well.
You can make your life a bit easier by investing in a food dehydrator, as it will reduce the risk of overheating or even burning the protein. Yes, that’s just one of my many kitchen nightmare stories!
And finally, you'll need a jar to store your whey protein once you're finished with the process.
Now, let's get to the exciting stuff.
The 9-Step Process
I basically follow these to condense down the process when I'm making my own protein supplement. It took me a few miserably failed attempts and endless Google searches to get it right.
But if you follow these instructions, you should be in good shape.
1 - Pour Milk Into A Pot: I generally buy the more expensive high-quality, grass-fed, and organic whole milk. Pour the full gallon into your pot or adjust it down if you only need a small amount of protein. You'll get about 100 to 120 grams of whey protein from a full gallon.
2 - Heat The Milk: Slowly start to heat the milk and check the temperature every few minutes with a food thermometer. At about 180°F, the milk will start to simmer, and you must maintain that heat to avoid changing the structure of the amino acids .
Heat may not affect the amino acid structure of the protein or its nutrients, but it might affect the functionality of the protein. Functionality refers to the behavior of the protein, particularly its solubility.
- Frankie Smith, Health Clinician
3 - Add Lemon Juice: Squeeze out some lemon juice and stir 5 tablespoons into the heated milk. Leave the entire liquid mixture simmer. Make sure you avoid bringing it to boil!
4 - Let The Mix Rest: Turn off the heat and set the pot aside with a tight-fitting lid for around 20 to 30 minutes. Don't place it in a cool place as you want the protein and other nutrients to gradually separate.
5 - Strain The Mix: You will need a large bowl and a cheese strainer. Slowly pour the contents of the pot onto the strainer, but make sure you take your time. The curds will get caught in the strainer, and you can set those aside once it's thoroughly strained.
6 - Allow Whey To Drain: Place the bowl and strainer from step 5 in the fridge and let it cool and fully drain for about 2 to 3 hours. By keeping it in the fridge, you also avoid it spoiling during the process.
7 - Dehydrate The Whey: The easiest way to achieve this is by investing in a dehydrator. You can get them quite cheap online, and they will take a lot of hassle out of the process. Place the liquid whey in the dehydrator for about 12 hours at 135°F. The liquid will look a lot more like water at this stage.
8 - Process Whey Without A Dehydrator: If you don't have a dehydrator, then you can place the liquid in a pot, heat to medium heat and let it simmer. Gradually it will start to become thick and clumpy. Then transfer it to a tray lined with some baking paper and allow it to dry out for 12 hours.
If it's not fully dried out, then break it up and allow another 12 hours of drying.
Just keep in mind that this step is not ideal if you want to maintain the optimum nutrition value of your whey protein.
9 - Blend Into A Powder: Use a food processor or a blender to create a powder and also mix in some natural flavors like vanilla or cocoa powder. If it still feels a bit damp, then leave it dry for another few hours before you place it in a tightly closed jar.
How much does it cost to make protein powder?
It only costs a few dollars to make protein powder at home, with the most expensive thing being the gallon of milk. Even when you factor in the electricity to heat up the milk, it will work out cheaper than buying protein shakes.
Does whey powder go bad?
Yes, whey protein powder goes bad and will lose a lot of its effectiveness. Homemade whey will generally last for about 6 months if stored in a cool and dry place. But make sure you look for signs that it may have gone bad.
Is It Really Worth The Effort?
After a few attempts and ultimately getting the process right, I was able to get some consistency. But I eventually asked myself the question of whether it was worth the time and effort.
Yes, the ingredients may be pretty cheap, but it's not a hands-off process. You also cannot be 100% sure what the actual protein content is, which makes calculating your dose a difficult question.
While I did enjoy my little DIY project, it’s actually more taxing than I thought.
These days, I just stick with a few high-quality whey protein powders that are suitable for muscle gain and weight loss. Other options like
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