I greatly enjoyed your feature article on whey (C&EN, Feb. 6, page 26).
It brought back many memories. My first job freshly out of graduate school was at Lehi Dairy in Allentown, Pa. (no longer in operation) finding uses for acid whey generated by the cottage cheese-making process.
Forty years ago, the cottage cheese market was twice the size of yogurt. Today, yogurt ($7.68 billion) is seven times the cottage cheese market.
Cottage cheese is a neglected category. It has been marketed in multiserve tubs since the ’70s. Some single-serve products are available, but half are just plain. Consumers are being ignored. There is no Chobani or Dannon in the cottage cheese market. Breakstone is large, but there are also many regional brands.
At Lehi, I worked with a chemical engineer from Lehigh University. We developed a pilot process to ultrafilter the whey proteins out of the cottage cheese whey and pump the permeate through a bed of glass beads fixed with β-galactosidase enzyme. The enzyme split the lactose molecule into glucose and galactose, which is more soluble and sweeter than lactose. The protein and carbohydrate streams were concentrated and added back to ice cream. The process worked on a small scale, but we never got to scale it up due to management changes at Lehi.
Marvin J. Rudolph