Have you already read my post all about kefir? This is another great way I use raw milk kefir in my home. I make kefir cheese! A super simple, soft creamy cheese that you can flavor how ever you like. Here’s how I make kefir cheese in my kitchen.
What is kefir?
Milk kefir or dairy kefir is a fermented dairy drink made by inoculating milk with kefir grains. Kefir grains are the symbiotic culture that’s used to make kefir. You can make kefir with cow, goat or sheep’s milk. There are also a few other uses for the kefir grain starter cultures beyond that. In this article I will focus on fermenting cow’s milk with kefir grains. You can read all about dairy kefir in this post.
What is kefir cheese?
When I make kefir and then strain that kefir in a nut milk bag or cheese cloth I call the result kefir cheese. By straining it you get the solids to separate from the liquid whey. The end product is a creamy cheese, somewhat like goat cheese.
What does kefir cheese taste like?
Kefir cheese tastes a lot like kefir, maybe a little more sour. The texture will depend on how long you strain the kefir cheese. If you strain it for a shorter amount of time it will be wetter and creamier. If you strain it for a longer amount of time the kefir cheese will be dryer and more like goat cheese texture.
What equipment do you need to make kefir cheese?
What ingredients do you need to make kefir cheese?
- At least 1 quart milk kefir (1 quart milk and kefir grains)
- Herbs, garlic, seeds (optional)
How do you make kefir into cheese?
Making kefir cheese is extremely simple. There is no rennet, no heating of milk, no aging. It’s literally just straining your finished kefir to separate the solids from the whey.
What is whey?
Whey is the yellowish liquid that you are left with when the curds separate in milk. You’ll get whey as a byproduct when making cheese, yogurt or kefir cheese.
The whey left over after making kefir cheese is a live active whey. That means the kefir whey will contain the live active cultures that were in the kefir. Since the whey and kefir have never been heated, those bacteria are still alive and ready to be put to work.
What can I use leftover whey for?
You can use left over whey for many things. Use left over live kefir whey to inoculate other ferments like fermented applesauce or fermented sodas. Living whey can also be used to help with the digestibility of grains by soaking them in water with a few tablespoons of whey added like in this recipe.
Watch the video
How to flavor kefir cheese
Flavor kefir cheese after you’ve strained out any whey. The flavor combinations are endless. Use fresh or dried herbs, garlic, seeds, fresh or dried fruit or even jam. Some of my favorites are:
- Garlic and thyme
- Rosemary sea salt
- Everything bagel seasoning
- Onion and chives
- Simple salt and pepper
- Cranberry and orange zest
- Sumac, garlic and lemon
Flavoring the cheese is really easy. After the cheese is done straining just mix in some salt, herbs and or garlic to taste. I really recommend controlling yourself and not eating it all then and there. Instead try to leave the cheese in the fridge for a few hours, overnight is better, so that the flavors can meld with the cheese. It will make a huge difference.
Raw vs pasteurized milk
You can use raw or pasteurized milk to make kefir. I talk about the difference in this article. When making this cheese, common store bought milk does yield a more consistent texture. That’s because most store bought milk is homogenized. Homogenization stops the cream from separating from the milk. In the above video I do use pasteurized homogenized milk from the store.
Since making this video I’ve made a good connection for fresh raw milk. I now make this same recipe from fresh raw milk from a neighbors farm. I still get a great result, but there are a few small tips that may help if you’re going to try this recipe with raw milk.
Making this recipe using raw milk
- I recommend stirring your kefir a few times as it ferments. This will help the cream and milk incorporate better.
- Do a secondary ferment. What I mean by this is finish your kefir by straining out the kefir grains and then leave the finished kefir on the counter to ferment further. Ideally you will start to see the white of the milk separating from the yellowish liquid called whey.
- Chill the finished kefir in the fridge before you start straining into cheese. I’ve found this helps you not lose as much milk/cream with the whey.
If you’ve read this article you had a pretty good idea now how I make my kefir cheese. If you need more visual details, definitely check out the video above. It really is simple if you’re already making kefir at home. It’s just the next step of straining it that makes it into cheese.
Have a lot of fun experimenting with different flavors. If you’re like me, you’ll probably find yourself making kefir just to make up some delicious cheese and try new flavor combinations.
How to use this cheese?
I like using kefir cheese as a dip for carrot sticks, cucumber slices or homemade sourdough crackers.
You can also use this cheese as you would cream cheese and spread it on a bagel or on some toast.
Kefir cheese can also be used in some recipes that call for cream cheese or sour cream.
What to buy?
If you don’t have these nut milk bags I would highly recommend them. They are good for a ton of uses and don’t take up much space to store them. Yes, you could totally use cheese cloth instead, but it is so much messier. The nut milk bags work well and are really easy to clean.
If you aren’t yet making kefir you’ll need to get these kefir grains to get started. You only need to buy them once and you can make endless batches of kefir as long as you keep them alive and well.
How long does kefir cheese last in the fridge
Move the kefir cheese into the fridge after it’s made. It will last at least a week, probably even two weeks. The flavors will continue to develop and will become a bit more sour. I never manage to have it last that long! Enjoy!
Have you made kefir cheese?
How did it turn out? Did you do it differently than I explain here? Let me know in the comments.