Is it possible to make cream cheese without rennet, electricity or a thermometer? Yes! Milk kefir turns into a cream cheese spread, halfway between Greek yogurt and cream cheese.Yum!
Make kefir cheese in 2 steps
- Make kefir
- Drain the kefir
As easy as that!
For about 1 cup of kefir cheese:
- 1 liter of prepared kefir
- Approx. ½ tsp. salt, to taste
- Spices and pepper to taste
Tip: Powdered kefir starter is a great choice for getting started and experimenting, while kefir grains are often preferred for long-term production. Read the Milk Kefir Culture vs Milk Kefir Grains Comparison Guide to find out which option is best for you.
To thicken the kefir and turn it into creamy cheese, part of the whey must be removed. For this, you can use several tools:
- Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth
- Use a hanging cotton bag
- Pour into the Kefirko Cheese Maker filter
- Transfer to a dish lined with a coffee filter
All of these options are excellent and easy to use. However, depending on the option chosen, the draining time may be longer or shorter.
- Pour the kefir in the cotton bag or in the option chosen to drain the kefir. The whey should drip off and be a clear, transparent color.
- Let the whey drain overnight in a cool place (ideally in the refrigerator).
- For a firmer cheese, apply constant pressure on the kefir after the first phase of draining. Usually a weight is used, like a plate, but with the Kefirko Cheese Maker the system is integrated. Keep cool and apply pressure for a few hours.
- When the kefir has the consistency of cream cheese, empty into a bowl. Add salt and spices. Mix well.
- Pour into a serving dish, or a small mold to give it a shape. Refrigerate for a few hours.
This creamy cheese is best eaten as is with crackers, or carves out a place in your favorite sandwich. Try on festive occasions with smoked salmon on blini or savory pancakes!
Variants and seasoning
Fresh kefir cheese is delicious plain, but there are lots of ways to have fun personalizing it! Here are some ideas to prepare it.
In your recipes
Plain kefir cheese easily replaces sour cream, Greek yogurt, and cream cheese in recipes (with or without baking). Super good on nachos!
In a dip
To make dips, let the kefir drain for a shorter period of time to achieve a Greek yogurt texture. Add spices, fresh herbs, etc.
Examples: Kefir tzatziki, zaatar kefir labneh, herb kefir dip, etc.
As a spreadable cheese
Applying a weight or allowing it to drain longer, the cheese becomes firmer and can be molded and spread. You can then roll it in the spices of your choice.
Example: Trio of appetizer balls
In firm cheese to sprinkle
You can also dehydrate the kefir to give it a denser texture and concentrate its flavors. We love it in the form of flakes, to use like Parmesan cheese.
Example: Kefir "parmesan" flakes
Milk kefir is a very stable and very safe culture for fermenting milk. However, that does not mean that we must abandon all hygiene rules!
- If you are using powdered culture to make your kefir, boil and cool the milk before you culture it.
- Thoroughly clean all instruments that will come into contact with the kefir with hot soapy water.
- If you are using a cotton bag or cheesecloth, sterilize it between each use by immersing it in boiling water for ten minutes.
- If at any stage your kefir has an unusual smell, taste, or visible mold, then discard it.
The kefir cheese will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.
Kefir cheese can be stored for a few more days. It should keep its fresh, tangy smell and should not have visible mold.
It is possible to age kefir cheese, but additional health precautions should be put in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best milk for making kefir cheese?
Kefir cheese can be made from cow, goat, or even sheep kefir!
The amount of fat in the milk will influence the texture of the cheese. The more fat there is in the milk, the richer and creamier the cheese will be!
When making your kefir you can substitute a cup of milk for a cup of cream of your choice, and it will add richness to your cheese. Yum!
To learn more, read this article on the best milks for making kefir.
I'm getting less cheese than I expected. Why?
When you put your kefir in the filtration system, the whey will drip out, leaving the curd in your container.
Unlike other cheeses, kefir curds are very small. If the holes of your device are too wide, the curd will drip out with the whey and you will be left with a smaller amount of cheese.
If you are losing a lot of cheese when draining, add a coffee filter to your device.
What do I do with the whey?
The whey that drips from kefir is packed with probiotics and protein. To avoid wasting it, incorporate it into your smoothies, breads, pancakes and cakes, using it to replace milk or water. It will add a subtle acidity to your recipes.
It can also be used to inoculate lactofermentations.
My cheese is too acidic.
Kefir cheese is naturally a bit more acidic than most cream cheeses.
The longer the kefir ferments, the more acidic it will be. To make your cheese, take a younger kefir, which has only fermented for 24 hours.
Another technique to avoid acidity is to let the kefir drain in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. The taste will change less, and the finished product will be smoother.
Can you heat kefir cheese?
Yes, it is possible to heat kefir cheese for example, when it is incorporated into sauces or dishes.
What if my cheese smells funny or has mold?
Trust your senses. If it smells of cheese and acidity, that's fine. If there is a musty smell and magic mushrooms growing on it, throw it away.
It is better to make small amounts of it regularly, and to consume it as you go.