Ricotta is most likely the oldest whey cheese
Geitost cheese is prepared using leftover whey

Whey cheese is a dairy product made of whey, the by-product of cheesemaking. After the production of most cheeses, about 50% of milk solids remain in the whey, including most of the lactose and lactalbumin.[1] The production of whey cheese allows cheesemakers to use the remaining whey, instead of discarding it as a waste product.

There are two fundamentally different products made of whey and called whey cheese:[2]

Cheese and whey cheese are distinct categories in the Codex Alimentarius.[4] In the appellation system of the European Union, protected whey cheeses are included in class 1.4 for "other products of animal origin" instead of class 1.3, for "cheeses".[6]


Urdă is a Romanian whey cheese

Two different kinds of whey cheeses are made, through different processes:

Coagulated (albumin) cheese

To produce coagulated whey cheese, heat and optionally acid is used to coagulate the whey. This type has a relatively low lactose content and a white-to-yellowish color.[4] It is possible to ripen albumin cheeses.[3] In addition to whey, the Codex Alimentarius[clarification needed] allows the use of milk, cream, and buttermilk, plus sodium chloride and starter culture. The whey can be pre-concentrated.[4]

Fresh albumin cheese is soft. It contains a lot of moisture and expires quickly. Ripened hard varieties have a much lower moisture content, making them preservable for much longer.[citation needed]

The production yield of coagulated whey cheese is generally lower than ordinary cheese, as whole milk contains only 1% whey protein.[citation needed] Yield is dependent on the composition of the whey, the addition of milk or cream, the production technology, and the composition (moisture content) of the final product. With efficient modern methods such as ultrafiltration, 10 to 20% of solids or more remain after the whey is mixed with cream and reduced.[7]

Concentrated cheese

To produce a brunost, the whey is simply concentrated by boiling down and then molded. Cheeses produced using this method possess a relatively high lactose content. Typically, they have a yellowish-to-brown color and possess a sweet, cooked, or caramelized flavor.[3][5] Pre-concentrated whey may be used. Additional allowed ingredients under the Codex Alimentarius are cream, milk, and other raw materials obtained from milk, plus sugar.[4]

Lactose content

Because almost all varieties generally contain significant amounts of whey, they are unsuitable for consumption by people who are lactose intolerant. Brocciu is lower in lactose.[8]



  1. ^ Marth, Elmer H. (1999). Fundamentals of Dairy Chemistry (Third ed.). Gaithersburg, Maryland: Aspen Publishers. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-8342-1360-9.
  2. ^ Charles Thom, Walter Fisk, The Book of Cheese, 1918, reprinted in 2007 as ISBN 1-4290-1074-6, p. 295
  3. ^ a b c d Fox, Patrick F. (2004). Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology. Vol. 2. Academic Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-0-08-050094-2.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Codex Alimentarius Commission (2011). Milk and milk products (PDF) (Second ed.). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization. p. 83. ISBN 978-92-5-105837-4.
  5. ^ a b Scott, R.; Robinson, R. K.; Wilbey, R. A. (1998). Cheesemaking Practice (3rd ed.). New York City: Kluwer Academic\Plenum Publishers. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7514-0417-3.
  6. ^ "Geographical indications and traditional specialities". European Commission. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  7. ^ Fox, Patrick F. (2004). Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology. Vol. 2. Academic Press. p. 532. ISBN 978-0-08-050094-2.
  8. ^ "Delicious Corsica: Sampling the best of Corsican cuisine". National Geographic. 3 April 2018. Archived from the original on 13 July 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.