Making Kefir Cheese

Kefir Cheese

Kefir Cheese

Making cheese from kefir is easy and it contains all the beneficial probiotic micro-organisms that kefir is famous for. This recipe makes a tasty, soft cheese, similar to cream cheese but even easier to spread. I’ve also used it in recipes in place of ricotta cheese.

This is the basic recipe for making a plain kefir cheese, you can use it as-is or add herbs, fruit and nuts to create your own delicious variations. Let your imagination go wild!

Here’s the recipe for making kefir.  Here’s the best place I have found to order kefir grains (they ship all over the world). If you want to make cheese from your kefir generally you’ll want to let your kefir ferment for 48 hours (but this can vary depending on the temperature), or until the curds and whey separate out and the curds become quite thick.

Straining the whey to make kefir cheese

Straining the whey to make kefir cheese

This is the method I’ve been using, it uses a plastic colander and cheesecloth, but you could also use a nut milk bag if you have one, or care to make one. Using a nut milk bag would make it even easier, especially if you’re in a hurry and want to manually squeeze the whey out, rather than using the ‘time-and-gravity method’.

If you do use a nutmilk bag instead you don’t necessarily need to have a colander underneath it, as long as you have a way to hang it so the whey can drip out. But it’s still a good idea to have a bowl underneath to catch the whey.

Start by lining a plastic strainer or colander with cheesecloth. Sit the strainer or colander into a bowl or jar so that there will be enough room for the whey to drain off into the bowl/jar without touching the bottom of the strainer/colander. Pour the kefir into the cheesecloth and let it sit in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours to drain.

You may have to experiment with the cheesecloth to see what works best, a single or double thickness. You may want to use a double thickness of cheesecloth if the kefir is a very thin and runny consistency. If the kefir is quite thick, with clots already forming you may be able to use a single thickness of cheesecloth.

And don’t throw the whey out, it’s nutritious as well. You can use it in smoothies and shakes, and probably many other recipes. Some people even use it in sauerkraut and cultured vegetables as a starter for the lacto-fermentation process.

Straining Kefir Cheese

Straining Kefir Cheese

Cultured vegetables don’t need a starter, they will ferment without one, but I imagine using kefir whey gets the process happening much faster, and will add all the strains of beneficial micro-organisms found in the kefir to your cultured vegetables. It would be a good alternative to using a salt brine for anyone who wants to reduce their salt intake.

If you want to speed the process along, carefully gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and then the edges and twist them to form a sort of bag with the top closed off. Hold the twisted loose ends with one hand and squeeze the bag with the other. As you squeeze out some whey and compress the cheese you can twist the bag around even more. The whey will be squeezed out by the twisting action as well as when you squeeze the bag with your hand. You can use this technique to speed up the process of making the cheese and also to compress the cheese into a denser, dryer consistency.

4 cups of kefir should make around 1 cup of kefir cheese by the time the whey has drained off and it’s reduced down.

Kefir Cheese - the finished product

Kefir Cheese – the finished product

Once you deem your kefir cheese is ready, tip it from the cheesecloth into a glass or ceramic bowl. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrap any remaining cheese from the cheesecloth.

As with all fermented foods, you want to avoid contact with metal utensils. Although stainless steel is supposed to be non-reactive and therefore shouldn’t cause a problem, I just tend to avoid contact with all metal if possible.

Add any herbs, spices or other ingredients you feel like, or use it just as it is. It should keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

If you try out this recipe, let me know what flavor combinations you come up with by posting a comment.

DISCLAIMER: The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information and statements found here are for education purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your medical professional.

97 Responses to “Making Kefir Cheese”

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  1. Jo says:

    I just toss the curds on my lettuce salads. With homemade pesto & plain Greek yogurt for dressing.

    • Donna says:

      That’s sounds yummy Jo, thanks for sharing that. I bought huge bags of fresh organic basil and I have lots of pesto in my freezer, so I’ll definitely try the pesto yogurt dressing.

  2. M. says:

    Quick question: at what point in this process do you remove the kefir grains? If I leave my milk out to ferment for 48 hours, I clearly see the whey separated from the curds. To get the grains out, I usually mix up the curds and whey into a runny consistency and then strain everything through a fine mesh colander. However, if I do this to get the grains out, I’m messing up the formation of the curds. Is that ok? It seems like it would be hard to pick out the grains from the curds.

    • Donna says:

      Oh that’s a good question M. I don’t actually say in the article at what point I remove the grains. Once I pour the kefir into the cheesecloth lined colander I start trawling through it with my fingers to remove the grains. You quickly will get the hang of distinguishing the curds from the grains, the grains are harder and more rubbery. The curds are creamy and will easily mush when squeezed between your fingertips. If your grains are really tiny you have to be very careful at first to get as many as you can. It may take a while, so be patient. Once I grab some grains, I squeeze them over the colander and put the grains in a separate dish or jar to use again. I find that doing it this way I don’t crush up and separate the grains. If you can do it this way without breaking the grains up you’ll find that they start growing into bigger grains. Once they get bigger they are really easy to catch as you’re trawling through the kefir. Squeezing them also helps stimulate growth. You want to squeeze them out like you would a sponge, you’ll be able to see how much you can squeeze them without damaging them. It also helps release a different substance into the kefir which increases the health benefits.

      If your grains are really soft and break apart easily it means they are not very healthy. Maybe they were dried and reconstituted at some point. If that’s the case I would recommend ordering new grains, but make sure they are fresh and very high quality. There is only one source that I recommend to buy fresh kefir grains (just click on that link and it will take you to the kefir order page). They also sell water kefir grains if you are interested in trying them.

      • Amy says:

        I strain my kefir to remove the grains prior to making the cheese. Just strain it as you normally would and then pour the kefir into the cloth or bag to remove the whey.

  3. Jeanine says:

    I just made my first batch of kefir cheese and love it! I have a whey intollerance so this is a great way for me to still enjoy some dairy! I spread it on toast with a little jelly on top. I also used it as a dip for carrots. Really, the possibilities are endless. There is a slightly sour taste. I use the tiniest bit of stevia to help reduce that. My picky son just ate toast with it on there and liked it! Buying these grains was a heaven sent idea to be sure.

  4. noureddine says:

    Please if You Can help me to find some kefir grains in morocco or in South spain.i Will appreciated if do it soon as possible.

  5. nicole says:

    Hi i’m trying to figure out if the probiotics are contained in the whey or the cheese after you are done seperating it and making the cheese. Or mabey they both have probiotics, but i’m wondering which one has the most probiotics: the whey or the cheese.??? Thank you!

  6. Kimberly says:

    Trying this for the first time. My kefir cream is now spending time in the fridge draining. When it is done, what are different ways I can flavor it. In its current state it is pretty tart. Thanks!

  7. Kathleen says:

    I just started making my own kefir in October and now have so much kefir that I can afford to make plenty of cheese with it. I have added fresh garlic, coarse sea salt, pepper and either dill or oregano and it is so good with veggies! I even used it mixed with fresh spinach and stuffed a chicken breast with it and baked it in the oven. I also mix it with some fermented salsa and use it as a dip for blue corn chips. Sometimes if I am craving something sweet, I stir in some strawberry or blueberry jam. It is so good no matter how you decide to prepare it! Give a little to your pets too; it is so healthy!

    • Donna says:

      Thank you Kathleen, great ideas for flavoring the kefir cheese! I never thought of mixing it with jam or using it for stuffing. Blending it up with spinach would make a nice dip too.

  8. Pamela M. Conley says:

    I used my milk kefir to make cornbread and it was yummy.

  9. Pat T says:

    It seems that my kefir is separating early and stirring it does not help for it will have whey on top after it has been the fridge. Also have had the texture change from what was a smooth consistency to more curdle and much more sour in taste.It this from temp changing too much? Do you recommend washing the grains? I do not tolerate the whey well. I do pour it off before drinking the kefir.

    • Donna says:

      Hi Pat, it sounds like it’s just fermenting faster than before. The temperature definitely makes a difference with that. When it separates like this it’s easier for making cheese than when it’s all smooth and mixed together. Washing the grains is definitely not recommended. What you can do is try halving the time for fermentation. So if you were letting it ferment for 24 hours, cut that down to 12 and see how it is after 12 hours. Sometimes when it’s warm even then it will start separating. You can also reduce the amount of grains per cup of milk, or also keep it in the fridge for art of the fermentation cycle.

    • Luposian says:

      I’ve been making kefir since 2005. I have come to an understanding of kefir grain -> milk ratio. When there is a higher kefir grain -> milk ratio, your kefir cultures faster. Higher temps increase the culture speed. What I do, is when my grains get too many (and culturing happens too fast), I let it culture for about an hour and then put it in the fridge overnight. It slows everything down. I can then bring it out when I want and… sometimes… I get this absolutely WONDERFUL. creamy layer of… what else to call it… plain yogurt-like consistency on top and it’s fantastic. I mix it up and it’s thick and smooth and delicious.

      When you spend enough time doing kefir (years, in my case), you learn the science and art form of kefir. No tap water (only filtered or bottled). Wash your grains only when absolutely necessary (which is rare to never). No metal (plastic only). Etc. Learn the basic rules and go from there.

      And remember, kefir grains are living things… or maybe they’re aliens trying to take over earth by making us serve them by helping them breed and make more! [cue the Twilight Zone theme]. :-D

      • Donna says:

        Thank you for that great advice Luposian! I’d just add glass is better than plastic if possible, but for something like a strainer of course plastic is going to be the way to go. I’m sure a lot of people will find this helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time to post it!

        • Luposian says:

          Oops, forgot to add, I *DO* use a glass mug (has a handle, too!) for my kefir grains/milk. But I use a plastic colander and plastic spoon and plastic catch basin for everything, when I’m ready to strain ‘n’ drink! I’ve also made Kefir cheese a few times. Wife doesn’t like kefir, but likes kefir cheese. Hmm. I enjoy drinking kefir too much to rarely make cheese with it. And my excess grains, I sell to this guy that bought a batch of grains from me on eBay, months ago, for $30/cup, every month now!

          God is good and Jesus saves!

          • Donna says:

            Does that guy who buys such a quantity of grains from you eat them? I wonder why he gets so much on a consistent basis?

            • Luposian says:

              I have no idea. He says he buys them for friends. Who am I to question what he does with them… I’m just grateful he pays so much for them and I can keep making more! God blesses in mysterious ways! :-D And the fact he’s also a fellow Christian, is all the better!

  10. victoria wallace says:

    I have read that kefir can be made in the refrigerator. I keep trying with no success. 1T grains : 2c milk is the ratio I use but after 7-10 days, nothing. The grains don’t get slimy, the milk doesn’t thicken and it has only the slightest hint of a fermented taste. I have success at room temperature but my daughter balks at milk fermented on the kitchen counter and she also prefers the store bought taste. What am i doing wrong? Can kefir really be made in the refrigerator and if so, what is the correct ratio of grains to milk? I am afraid of killing the grains if I leave them refrigerated in the same milk for more than 10 days. I keep my fridge st 34-36 F. Is that too cold for fermentation? Thank to everyone for any advice.

  11. Anna says:

    When you strain the kefir, have you already taken the grains out? I’m not sure how this is accomplished?

  12. lyn says:

    Hi im just making my first batch of kefir cheese with garlic and chives and was wondering if there is any thing can make with the whey?!!

  13. Willem says:

    I like to add some fresh parsley, course black pepper and a pinch of sea salt
    to my homemade Kefir Cheese.
    Remember always wear a high visibility jacket.


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