Cool Science Experiments | Make Curds and Whey

Are you looking for cool science experiments? Here’s a neat science demonstration for all the concoction-lovers out there: How to Separate Curds from Whey.

With just two ingredients, it’s incredibly simple and a great introduction to how some cheeses are made. Furthermore, you could make this a literary adventure by bringing this popular nursery rhyme to life: Little Miss Muffet, who sat on her tuffet while eating her curds and whey.

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

For the past few weeks the girls and I (now ages 3.5 and almost 6) have been making weekly trips to the library. We look forward the familiar walk past the duck pond and will occasionally dilly dally over popsicles on a hot afternoon.

Our most common ritual is to scan all of last week’s books in (the library is remarkably high tech!) and then begin our quest for 10 new books each. My three-year old inevitably grabs all of the leader books from the seasonal shelf while my older daughter bee-lines for the Rainbow Magic books. After this enthusiastic start, we’ll rally toward the picture book section for some serendipitous finds. Every week is a reading adventure.

Last week I made a little detour toward the kids’ science section and picked up Super Science Concoctions. Does this sound like me, or what? One of the chapters of my new book is even called Concoctions! So, yeah, I had to have it.

The book is full of so many cool science experiments, and I wanted to start with this simple science demonstration. While it’s a demonstration, meaning that it show how a phenomena happens, it could easily be turned into an experiment.

I’ll share some science experiment suggestions with you at the end of this post.

Supplies: Curds and Whey Science Demonstration

  1. Milk- 1/2 cup
  2. Vinegar – 1 tablespoon
  3. Small pot
  4. Strainer
  5. Bowl/s

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

How to Make Curds and Whey

  1. Pour milk and vinegar into a small pot and cook on a medium heat until the curds (thick, cottage cheese looking substance) floats to the top of the pot and separates from the whey (thin liquid). Watch the pot closely as this shouldn’t take long.
  2. Strain the curds and whey through a strainer over a bowl
  3. Congratulations! You’ve now made curds and whey!

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

The Science bit

Milk is a colloid, meaning that the different particles in it, namely curds (casein) and whey (liquid), blend together smoothly and won’t separate on their own. However, when you combine the casein (protein) of the milk with the acid of vinegar, it curdles the milk and the casein turns into chunky curds because it can’t mix with vinegar.

More Things to do with Curds and Whey

  • Save the whey for cooking if you’d like. I wasn’t brave enough to, but here are some things to make with sour whey.
  • Gather the curds in your hand, squeeze them together, and rinse them.
  • Form a little ball. The book suggested squeezing the curds into a sculptural shape, but ours just wouldn’t comply. A ball was about all we could do.
  • Marvel at the wonder of separating curds and whey.
  • Taste your curds. How are they? Add some salt and see what you think now.
  • Once dry, paint your curd ball
  • Check out this easy recipe for making your own cheese from milk and vinegar!

Science Demonstration: How to Make Curds and Whey  | TinkerLab

Cool Curds and Whey Science Experiments

  1. Change the quantities of vinegar or milk
  2. Use different kinds of vinegar
  3. Replace vinegar with another acid such as lemon juice
  4. Use a different kind of milk. Compare the results from whole milk, skim milk, and heavy cream. And what about soy milk?
  5. Cook the concoction in the oven
  6. What else could you try? Make a graph to compare your results.