Whey Fermentation - Viking Blaand

So there is a project that I’ve been working on that spans both my cheese and brewing hobbies. There is some literature that exists suggesting that the Vikings used a fermented whey drink for some special drinks. I’ve read that this drink, called blaand, was the first drop of liquid on the lips of a baby and the last put on the lips of the dear departed. In between it was drunk often.

The issue is that while whey has sugar in it, it is in the form of Lactose. This is a kind of sugar that cannot be digested by common yeasts. There is a bit of information the Milk the Funk Wiki suggesting that at lease some strains of Brettanomyces can ferment (e.g., turn the sugar into alcohol + CO~2~) but it is B. anomolus (aka clausenii) which is a group of strains that are rather uncharacterized. Some attempts have been made to use these strains to ferment whey with mostly negative (but some positive) results. This suggests that it may be either a varietial issue or an issue with the environment within which the Brett is working that determines if it can work.

I’ve taken a different tact.

Reduction then Fermentation - RTF blaand

So, as lactose is the main impediment here, I’ve taken the modern approach. What happens if I take Lactaid^©^ to reduce the lactose to glucose + galactose first and then give the stuff to some monster yeast to work on? I did just that.

  1. I made a Caerphilly cheese and saved a bit of the whey (~1 gallon). I pasteurized it by brining to >180F for 15 minutes to kill any bugs in the solution.
  2. I measured the gravity (e.g., the amount of dissolved sugars) using a hydrometer - it was about 1.022. Hydrometer Pre-Lactaid
  3. I then pulverized 6 Lactaid pills (just a guess here, more experimentation is needed to figure out the right amount necessary). I let this set at room temperature (should probalby be greater than this) and remeasured the gravity. Remember, this reduces Lactose to Glucose + Galactose. It measured 1.026, an increase in the amount of sugars. After lactaid gravity.
  4. I then pitched in Lalvin 1118, a monster yeast and let it go for 36 hours. The gravity had dropped to 1.014) Gravity after yeast and the sample had both ‘spritz’ in the taste as well as bubbles in the test flask Bubbles in whey

So it appears that:

  1. We can take whey and get sugars out of it via Lactaid.
  2. We can ferment them and show a drop in gravity.

What else can we do with this. Can we make a real fermented drink out of this. Right now, the spritzy whey tastes a bit ‘parmesagny’ if you know what I mean…


See also