In a previous post I talked briefly about whey – the liquid remaining when milk is coagulated and the curd removed. Health benefits have been attributed to the ingestion of whey for hundreds of years, but I did not realise just how much medicinal power it was alleged to have until I came across A Treatise On The Virtues And Uses Of Whey (1761) by Friedrich Hoffmann. Here is a short extract:
There are few fluids more salutary, and better adapted to prevent and cure the diseases of the human body than whey. The most ancient and learned physicians long ago discovered its salutary quality in curing diseases, and have recommended it in the strongest terms to posterity. Dioscorides, the oldest and best writer on the Materia Medica, speaks of the excellent virtue of whey in the following manner: "Whey, when separated "from the grosser parts of milk, is a much more effectual purge, and is given to those whose bodies we would render soluble without having recourse to acrimonious substances; such as persons afflicted with melancholy, leprosy, the elephantiasis, or eruptions over the whole body. To this Galen adds, That Whey is either drank, or injected by way of clyster, to promote stools, on account of its detersive qualities; for it cleanses and deterges the acrimony from the intestines without corrosion. And in another place he fully delineates the virtues of whey. Simple whey, says he, is particularly proper for tender patients, whose stomach and intestines only we would cleanse and purge; for those whose intestines are easily ulcerated by purgative medicines; for those, who in consequence of a bilious temperament, are subject to disorders of the belly, or labour under a tenesmus, or a continual inclination of going to stool, and whose reins and bladder are subject to exulcerations; and for lean persons who do not become fleshy by food, but want purging. To all these whey should be given, without the addition of salts, or any other medicine. Whey is also safely exhibited to children, women, and old persons, even during the heat of a fever at which time especially all other medicines are suspected. The use of whey is singularly effectual to patients labouring under diseases which require extraordinary assistance; especially eruptions of a long continuance, lucid spots, and all depravations of the humours tending to the skin, such as the leprosy, and others of a like nature; inveterate and malignant cancers, breakings out on the head, weeping eyes, an itching of the eye-lids, blotches in the face, and continual paroxysms of fevers; and to those who in consequence of a bad state of health, are in danger of falling into a "dropsy."
Plain, unadulterated whey might be good for the health, but there is no harm in making the medicine even more palatable, is there? We have considered whey posset and sack whey in the past, but an interesting booklet called Six Texas Food Products; Recipes And Food Values (1918) gives us several more ideas. The six products covered are cornmeal (and hominy), honey, legumes, milk, peanuts, sweet potatoes. The milk chapter gives us two whey beverages – and most interestingly, a sweet, thickened spread which would suit the breakfast table.
4 c whey
6 T sugar or honey
Juice of 2 lemons
f.g [?] cinnamon or nutmeg
Mix, chill, serve as a beverage.
4 c whey
¾ c sugar or syrup
Juice 4 lemons.
Mix, chill, and serve as punch.
NOTE: Grape juice, cherry juice, or crushed mint may be added.
½ c whey
⅓ c sugar or ½ c corn syrup
Mix and boil until the consistency of honey.
Delicious to spread on waffles or griddle cakes.
I asked the waiter, 'Is this milk fresh?' He said, 'Lady, three hours ago it was grass.'