The Ultimate Guide to Making Kefir Cheese
Thinking about making kefir cheese? In this guide we take an in depth look at how to make kefir cheese, how to cook with it, how to flavor it and how to store it.
Today we are going to be talking all things kefir cheese! If you have been wondering about this topic, don’t go anywhere. In this guide we are going to go through everything you need to know to make your own kefir cheese – in no time at all.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why making kefir cheese is awesome.
Reasons to Make Kefir Cheese
Here are some of the perks of making kefir cheese, just to get you real inspired before we a start on the how-to section.
Great Way to Use Up Excess Kefir
If you have been make kefir on a regular basis, you can often have excess kefir on your hands. Making your own kefir cheese is a great way in which you can use up extra kefir.
Easy Hack to Making Your Own Cheese
Making kefir cheese is also easy way to make homemade cheese quickly and easily without needing much cheese making know how. It is pretty fail safe, and only takes 12-24 hours to stiffen up into a soft cheese like consistency.
Kefir Cheese is Very Similar to Regular Soft Cheeses
Kefir cheese is soft in consistency. While similar to regular soft cheeses such as cream cheese, it does not taste exactly the same. Kefir cheese has the signature flavor of kefir, and can be quite tart. If you enjoy kefir, chances are you will enjoy kefir cheese. If on the other hand you are someone who disguises the tang of kefir in things like smoothies and dressings, then you can try out flavoring your kefir cheese with things like herbs, garlic etc.
Kefir Cheese is a Cheap Alternative to Expensive Soft Cheeses
Good quality soft cheese such as Boursin while being irresistable – can come at a price. Even regular cream cheese can push up the grocery bill if bought often enough! If you find that you enjoy kefir cheese as much as these store bought soft cheeses, then you can save quite a few pennies by making it on a regular basis.
Kefir Cheese is Still Probiotic
One of the best things about kefir cheese is…. it is as probiotic as the kefir it is made from. If you are already making kefir, then you probably already know about all of the exciting benefits that probiotics hold. These can include:
- Enhanced digestion
- Enhanced nutrient uptake
- Better elimination
- Enhanced immunity
- Rebalancing of the gut flora
- Easing of food allergies
- Enhanced mental/emotional wellbeing
If you want to know more about all of the great reasons to consume probiotics, check out 8 Awesome Reasons to Eat Fermented Foods.
Making Kefir Cheese
Kefir cheese is uncomplicated to make and does not need a lot of equipment or time. I am going to run you through the basic process, what you need, and then some step by step instructions.
The Basic Process
Kefir cheese is formed by allowing the kefir to sit suspended in a cloth. The whey drains off, while the solids of the kefir remain behind. This is the kefir cheese. You can allow it to increase in maturity by doing the draining outside of the refrigerator. Or, if you do not want the kefir solids to culture further, you can do the draining in the fridge.
There are two ways to do the draining process.
- By drawing up and knotting the corners of the cloth which the kefir is in and suspending it above a bowl by tying the ends of the cloth onto something. Such as the faucet, or a shelf in your refrigerator (with the bowl to catch the whey underneath)
- Or by lining a sieve or colander with the cloth, pouring in the kefir and placing this over a bowl to catch the whey.
While the last method is probably the most convenient, the hanging method might be better. The reason for this is that colander and sieves are made from either plastic or metal. Both of these substances can react when exposed to the high acid levels present in kefir and other fermented foods.
It is unlikely that short contact with either plastic or metal will contaminate a batch of kefir. For example if you stir kefir with a plastic spoon, this contact would probably be too short for any of the BPAs to leach into the kefir.
In the case of kefir cheese however, there might be a slight chance that contaminants could make their way into the kefir. It is very difficult to gauge this accurately, so use your own judgement.
We are going to outline the method using the cloth and kefir hung up – but feel free to use the colander method.
What You Need to Make Kefir Cheese
Before beginning to make your first batch of kefir cheese, you will to make sure that you have the following:
1. A Fermented Batch of Kefir
Kefir cheese is made out of already fermented kefir. If you are new to kefir making, then take a look at our full guide to kefir making here. In that guide we discuss in detail how to go about making your own kefir.
If you are already making kefir – then hooray we can start right away!
How Mature Should the Kefir be?
This can be a tricky question as some people like to use really mature kefir. They then make their kefir cheese in the refrigerator so that it will not culture further and become overly tart in the time that it takes for the cheese to form.
Other people prefer to use kefir which has merely been fermented for the regular time (and is not yet too tart). They then make their kefir cheese outside of the refrigerator, and this ‘matures’ and sours it a little further.
If you do not like strong kefir or strong cheese, then what might be a good idea is to combine these two methods. Use kefir that is not overly mature, and let the cheese form in the refrigerator. This will give you the mildest version of kefir cheese.
Using What You Got
An easy way to work out this ‘kefir maturity’ question is to simply go with what you have on hand. If you have a batch of kefir which is already too mature for your tastes, then you can make kefir cheese from it using the fridge method.
If you just wanna make some kefir cheese real quick and have a slightly immature batch of kefir on hand, then allow to cheese to develop at room temperature.
If you keep the principle in mind that room temperature ‘curing’ of the kefir cheese will strengthen it more – and the refrigerator temperature will stall it – you will be golden.
The next thing you will need is a length of cloth for straining the kefir through. You can use any of the following, even a coffee filter if you are really in a bind.
- Cheesecloth folded double
- Other wide meshed cloth
- Paper coffee filter
Dish to Catch Whey
While the kefir is straining out, you will need something to catch the whey. Use a ceramic or glass bowl which is adequately wide in diameter.
Remember that you can keep the whey! The whey which drains off of the kefir is also full of probiotic benefits, and also has a portion of the vitamins and minerals from the kefir. The whey that you catch can be kept to use in bread, soups or smoothies, and it can also be used as a starter for fermented vegetables.
Some Place to Hook Your Kefir On to Drain
One you have poured your kefir into the center of your cloth – you need to hang it somewhere, with the bowl to catch the whey placed underneath.
If making your kefir cheese in the refrigerator you can hook it onto one of the shelves.
If you are making your kefir cheese at room temperature – then consider the following.
- Looping the knotted ends over a wooden spoon and placing this across a deepish bowl.
- Hooking onto a kitchen cabinet knob.
- Tying the corners of your cloth together with string and using this to hook onto something (like the faucet, a curtain rail or clothes horse.)
If you are making a smallish amount of kefir cheese, you can take your cloth and secure it over a the mouth of a glass jar with a strong elastic band, and pour your kefir onto this.
If you have ceramic pour over coffee maker, then you can also line this with your straining cloth or a paper coffee filter. Pour your kefir into this and allow it to drain into a cup, jar or bowl.
How to Make Your Kefir Cheese
Once you have assembled what you need and decided whether you want to hang your kefir in its cloth, or let it sit in a colander – you are ready to make kefir cheese.
- Line a glass or ceramic bowl with your cloth which you want to use for straining. If it has a particulary wide mesh, you might want to fold it double.
- Pour your ready kefir into the bowl and cloth.
- Draw up the four corners of the cloth together.
- You can knot these corners or tye them with a piece of string.
- You can also apply some pressure to the kefir by squeezing it to get rid of the initial amount of whey. Stop if you see any of the white of the kefir coming through the cloth.
- Now suspend you knotted up kefir above the bowl in a suitable spot.
- Allow the kefir to drain for about 12 hours. The amount of time does not have to been exact, just enough so that the kefir has reached a cream cheese consistency.
And voila! Kefir cheese. Simple right!
Flavoring Kefir Cheese
At this point you can either eat your kefir cheese plain, or flavor it. If it is your first time making it, taste a little to see how you like the plain flavor. If you want to flavor your kefir cheese, here are some flavoring ideas:
- Fresh or dried herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, dill, cilantro, oregano basil etc.
- Fresh or dried garlic
- Spring onions or shallots
- Add salt
- Add pepper
- Add cream (this will not so much flavor the kefir cheese as make it more mild)
How to Store Kefir Cheese
To store your kefir cheese simply spoon it into an appropriately sized glass or ceramic container. Store it in the refrigerator to keep the kefir cheese from culturing further and getting overly strong.
Kefir cheese keeps well refrigerated for up to one week.
How to Use Kefir Cheese
To get your creative juices flowing, here are some ideas of where you can incoprorate kefir cheese in your meals and cooking.
- On bread and sanwiches
- On crackers
- Thinned to make a dip
- On pasta
- In sauces
- As a topping for potoatos
- In baking
- In frosting
- In soups
Two Things to Take into Account When Cooking With Kefir Cheese
When cheffing it up with kefir cheese there are two important things remember : ).
#1 Kefir cheese will lose its probiotic value if subjected to heat.
Remember that while kefir cheese is just as probiotic as regular kefir, if you expose it to high temperatures this will kill off the probiotics.
So, if you add kefir cheese to a soup, while it is still super healthy, it will not retain its probiotic benefits.
Therefore, if possible try to add kefir cheese to recipes after all cooking is done. And preferably at a point where the food has cooled. Of course there are recipes (like soup!) where this is not possible. Unless you want to eat cold soup of course; ).
#2 Kefir cheese does not taste the same as cream cheese.
Keep in mind that although kefir cheese is similar to cream cheese, it has a different taste. A kefir type of taste! This means that it will change the flavor slightly of what ever you are adding it to. And what you are making won’t necessarily taste the same as if you had made it with cream cheese.
One guideline which you can follow is that kefir cheese can be slightly bitter. So if you are making a dish which is already slightly bitter (for example okra), then adding kefir to it might make for a bitter combination. On other more bland foods (such as mashed potato for example) kefir cheese can add just the right amount of culinary ‘kick’.
If you are already making kefir – trying out a batch of kefir cheese is a super simple process (and If you are not making kefir yet, you totally should start!).
All you need is a cloth to strain the kefir through, a ready batch of kefir, and +- 12 hours. It is that simple!
And…. there are some big perks to making kefir cheese.
Kefir cheese is a great way to use up extra kefir which needs to be eaten. It is also an easy and quick way to make your own good quality and cost effective soft cheese at home.
Lastly, kefir cheese is a super probiotic, and packed with the same health benefits as regular kefir!