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.

109 Responses to “Making Kefir Cheese”

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  1. Frances says:

    Loving my kefir but froze the grains while on holiday. I think I’ve killed them – they are not reacting like they should. What is the secret to defrosting them. Please can anyone tell me? Thank you

    • Donna says:

      Hi Frances, I’m sorry I didn’t reply right away, I was out of commission for a time with really bad headaches. How did you freeze the grains? It’s best if you pack them in dried milk powder so the grains are completely covered.

      To defrost them pick them out from the powdered milk and put them in a bowl of cold water – but you want to make sure NOT to use chlorinated tap water. Once they have defrosted you can swish them around to wash all the powdered milk off. Then put them in a jar with a little milk, about 1/4 cup milk to 1 Tablespoon of grains. Strain the milk off every 24 hours and make a new batch like this. When the grains start turning the milk into kefir – when it starts to separate into curds and whey you know they are back on track. It can take up to a week or longer. Once you get to that point you can use the normal amount of 1 cup milk to 1 Tablespoon of kefir grains and start drinking it again.

      • Frances says:

        Thanks Donna – I’ll give it a try. Iobviously am not waiting long enough for them to come to life again.

  2. Angie says:

    I’ve just ordered some kefir from you, can’t wait until it arrives, I must try this, I had no idea kefir was so versatile 🙂 Great blog btw, such a lot of interesting info.

    • Donna says:

      Thank you Angie! When you get into making the cheeses like this you’re only limited by your imagination. I’ll have to post some more of my kefir cheese recipes for you. And I made an unbelievably yummy cheesecake like blueberry mousse with cultured cream (cultured with kefir grains) a couple of days ago. Wait till you try that! I’ll try to post the recipe this weekend (I’ll ship your kefir grains out on Monday).

  3. Angie says:

    Hi Donna. Can I ask, how can you give your kefir a ‘break’ without freezing, ie in the fridge for a while without actively using it?
    Thanks. ps just harvested my first batch of kefir this morning, excellent!! 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Hi Angie! Sure you can ask a question. Here’s how to rest your milk kefir grains: get the best quality yogurt you can, unsweetened, unflavored. You can either use the yogurt straight or mix with some milk (up to half and half). Store the grains in the fridge with enough yogurt to cover them and then some. You don’t need to use the usual 1 cup to 1 tablespoon of grains proportion – but doing that won’t hurt. They will last this way for several weeks in my experience.

      This is also the trick to mellowing out your grains if they get too yeasty or sour, which can happen sometimes if they over-ferment a bit. I’ve also noticed that since I’ve been using raw, organic milk with my grains they have stayed in balance. Even if I let them go to the maximum fermentation time, they never get yeasty.

      Thanks for a great question!

  4. Carole Scott says:

    Please inform me — how long will the kefir stay good in the fridge — I love the stuff but I am along and I now have lots of kefir grains and I now always make it in the fridge – because at room temperature – I have too much too quick. Thanks a zillion !

    • Donna says:

      Hi Carole, good question. I’m in the same position. I have lots of grains, they love the raw, organic milk I’m using so they are multiplying really fast, combined with the temperature they will ferment the milk way too quick.

      What I’ve found is that if I have them in the fridge fermenting the milk they can go 48 hours before needing to be changed and it turns out really beautiful. The kefir itself, once you take the grains out, is actually more nutritious if you let it stand (this can be in the fridge) for another 24 hours. If you make kefir cheese it will last at least a week in the fridge. You can do all the straining etc in the fridge, it can take a couple of days for that and then the cheese itself will last for at least a week, probably closer to two for me. If I mix herbs like fresh minced garlic into the cheese it can last even longer.

      You can also dry the extra grains. Just squeeze them out as much as you can. Some people say to rinse them in water and pat them dry, but I don’t bother with that. Then spread them on a plate, or a mesh screen if you have one. Leave them out in a warm, dry place, but covered to keep flies off. Check them every day and fluff them up to turn them over a bit. They will dry in a couple of days. They can be eaten as a crunchy treat, on salads, or ground up (with herbs if you want) and they make a really nice condiment. It reminds me of parmesan cheese, but of course it’s so much healthier. I think if you rinse the grains before drying they wouldn’t be quite as strongly flavored. You can eat the grains fresh too. Have you ever tried them? I love them, sometimes I’ll just have a couple when I’m taking the grains out to make a new batch. My dogs love them too.

      You can also store extra grains in the fridge, in yogurt or a half and half mix of yogurt and milk. You need enough to cover them and then an inch or two extra yogurt/milk on top. They can stay like this for several weeks. I’ve stored some like this for about 3 weeks at a time. I think I’ll write a whole article on what to do with extra kefir grains. Thanks for the question and I hope some of these suggestions help.

  5. Love the info! Great recipe ideas. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  6. Robert says:

    I mix jalapeno jelly with the Kefir cheese it is great on Bagels or Raisin toast.I make the jelly at home the recipe is on the net

  7. Becky says:

    At Lehman’s hardware They sell a Yogurt Cheese Maker. Does anyone know if that would work to make the kefir cheese with?

  8. lovern says:

    Hi Donna, I have joined the bandwagon of ‘kefirers’. I’m loving it. I would have the whey or both curds and whey on and empty stomach, first on mornings. Great. The problem is I’m was never much of a cow’s milk drinker. I would mostly use soy, rice, coconut etc. Have you tried these other milks with kefir and what was the results? Any advice would be greatly appricated.


    • Donna says:

      Hi Lovern, that’s great you’re having kefir in your diet. I have tried coconut kefir. I personally don’t like the taste, but so many people absolutely rave about it. I did make my first batch with water from a mature coconut, 2nd batch I can’t quite remember but I think I used a young green coconut. I just found it overpowering. But maybe I just haven’t quite got the fermentation time right or something. Either way, for any non-milk (non-mammal milk) kefir the milk kefir grains won’t like it long term.

      I have heard of people using milk kefir grains by making alternating batches of milk and coconut kefir. For the coconut water kefir I made I used water kefir grains. I think that long term they would be better for fermenting non-dairy liquids. In the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz he tells of a friend who is vegan and makes kefir from things like rice milk. His friend’s name is River, and the information about that starts on page 88 (by the way it’s the best book on fermented foods I’ve found and one of my all-time favorite books). If you do try some please post back about your results, I’d love to know. In a couple months time I hope to be in a better position to do lots more experimenting with fermented foods. So I might try some myself.

      Have you tried regular water kefir? It’s delicious! Also you can use goat’s milk with your milk kefir – milk from any mammal will do. One reader said she could get donkey’s milk where she lived, I’d be keen to try that!

  9. Doreen says:

    When you are straining the kefir for cheese, do you take out the kefir grains first before squeezing the bag? It would seem to be the thing to do because one wouldn’t want th harm the grains.

  10. Doreen says:

    Also, I would like to know how many times a day can one take kefir ?

    • Judy says:

      When I started making milk kefir I used a packet from Vitamin Cottage. I’ve been using the kefir milk for several months. As I was reading the posting you were talking about saving the kefir grains. I see the curds & whey, but I don’t know what milk kefir grains look like. I do have water kefir going too and you can’t the grains there. What do the milk kefir grains look like?

  11. Mike Bracciodieta says:

    Has anyone ever used chocolate with milk kefir grains?
    I did and found after couple of batches a creamy substance forming on top of yellowish clear liquid. Upon further research I figured the liquid was the whey and the solid stuff was cheese.

    I figured I could make chocolate cheese, what a great idea I thought and wondered why it hasn’t already been done. But I also wonder if the chocolate flavour is not going to be transferred to the cheese or be noticable?

    How exactly do I deal with the cheese ? Leave it out for how long to dry and does it become hard or stay soft?

    Tips, comments, ideas anyone?


    • Donna says:

      Hi Mike. So do you mean you used chocolate milk with the milk kefir grains? You will often find with regular milk kefir the whey will separate out, and it sounds like the yellowish clear liquid is whey as you guessed.

      I think you could also make regular milk kefir and then add chocolate to it, mix in and strain to make the cheese. I’m really not sure how the kefir would be affected by having the chocolate in the milk that the grains are in though. I don’t know if you’ll be able to taste the chocolate flavor or not using your method. You’ll have to experiment and see. Let us know how it turns out!

      I have added chocolate to regular milk kefir in smoothies, and that was quite nice… like tart chocolate.

      You don’t really leave the cheese out to dry, you strain it through cheesecloth, strain the whey out that is. Leave it for as long as you want until it gets to the consistency you desire. It won’t get really hard like a cheddar, it’s more of a soft, creamy cheese.

      I hope that helps 🙂

    • YvettePavlick says:

      Did u ever make the chocolate keifer cheese? How did it taste?

  12. Mike Bracciodieta says:

    What I noticed about using chocolate milk after starting with organic whole milk was that the separation seemed to occur alot quicker. Though this may just have been be cause the kefir grains that I received were simply getting stronger in their new environment.

    The cheese doesn’t taste all that chocolatey but it is different and definetly creamy.

    Would putting it in a.cheese cloth and pressing it for 24 hours help harden the cheese ?

    I will continue to experiment , going to use goat milk next.


  13. Lisa Meadows says:

    This is my first time making cheese from kefir…It is draining…my question is…after it drains and I have the cheese, where is the kefir to keep using?

    • Donna says:

      Hi Lisa. You do the kefir like usual, taking out the grains to use in the next batch, then you drain it. If you started draining the whey off already you can still go through the cheese and take out the grains. I find it’s a little harder to extract the grains from the cheese than from the liquid kefir, but it can still be done. I hope that helps.

      • Lisa Meadows says:

        That does help! I thought I had just lost my grains! I thought I would try a little garlic and fresh rosemary for my cheese. Also, will using kefir in my smoothies help me lose weight or add it?

        This is so exciting!


  14. Melanie says:

    I am loving me some kefir! From all that experimentation, I came across the whole concept of whey and fermenting other foods, but I had just a bit of raw milk left and it has been making such delicious kefir that I didn’t want to “waste” it making whey and cheese. My daughter gave me a great alternative plan and I wondered if anyone else had tried it: She told me to heat four cups of milk to about 180 degrees F and then let it cool to about 100 F. Then add about a 1/4 cup of vinegar to the milk and it will curdle, then strain it thru cheesecloth like you do kefir or other milks and you will have whey and cheese in under an hour. Well, I tried it and it sure LOOKS like whey and cheese – in fact the cheese is delicious, very mild and smooth. I am going to add some spices to it. But my question is this – how does whey made like this compare with whey made from kefir? (Note – though this wasn’t made with raw milk, it was made with organic milk, if that makes any difference – I bought it a day or so before I found my raw milk supplier).

    • Donna says:

      Hi Melanie. I’ve made a similar kind of cheese, but using lemon juice instead of vinegar to curdle it. I was taught to make it my some Indian women. It was delicious. To answer your question about the whey… the whey from the kefir will have the beneficial micro-organisms in it (probiotics) whereas the whey from the milk that was heated will not. So the whey, and in fact the cheese as well, made from the kefir will be more nutritious because of the natural fermentation process and the beneficial micro-organisms it contains.

  15. Patricia Sheek says:

    Ranch Salad Dressing
    1 cup kefir
    1 cup mayonnaise (I use mayo made with olive oil)
    1 Tbsp. Italian herbs
    1 tsp. garlic salt
    1/2 – 1 tsp. onion powder
    crushed pepper to taste
    Blend with mixer and refrigerate

    • Donna says:

      Wow, thank you for that Patricia! I’m going to try it and then I’ll post it as a full recipe with photo, and credit it to you of course. I LOVE salads, they are a big part of my diet, so I’ always looking for great, healthy salad dressings. Thank you so much for posting this, it sounds delicious! I’ve never made my own mayo, but I’ve been meaning to for some time. I’ll go find a recipe and figure out how to do it now so I can use it in your Ranch Dressing recipe.

  16. D H Harris says:

    Is kiefer cheese the same as lebneh? They both seem to be made very much the same way beginning with yogurt


    • Donna says:

      It sounds very similar, except that it uses yogurt instead of kefir. Kefir is it’s own thing, similar to yogurt but slightly different in how it is made and better for you. Kefir can actually re-colonize the micro-organisms in your gut. I’m sure that people in areas where kefir is a popular traditional food have made kefir cheese. I’m not sure if it has it’s own name or if perhaps lebneh is also made with kefir. For all intents and purposes the kefir cheese and lebneh will be very similar.

  17. Luposian says:

    I’ve been making kefir from the same batch, since 2005. I still have my eBay receipt! Having found out you can make kefir cheese, I’m really excited to try, but not sure if I have the means to make 4 cups of kefir… I make mine in a drinking mason jar and either sell or dispose of some of the grains, when my grains:milk ratio gets too high and it cultures too fast.

    Should I simply make a couple similar-sized batches and add them together or…?

    • Donna says:

      You can make the kefir cheese in any quantity you want. I like making a litre at a time because it seems more efficient, but you could do it with any quantity.

  18. Lisa Meadows says:

    I make kefir is super easy! Let it culture for 24-48 hours and then drain off the kefir grains and let the rest go into cheese cloth. They whey will drain and can be frozen. I let mine sit out on the counter for a few hours on the fridge over night.

  19. Charlotte says:

    I make kefir and store it in the fridge. Can i make several batches (jars) then pull it back out of the fridge and strain with cheese cloth? In other words can kefir be strained once its been in the fridge?

    • Donna says:

      Hi Charlotte, that should be fine to make the cheese from kefir that has been in the fridge. And you can leave it straining in the fridge too, it thickens up really well doing it that way.

  20. Dianne says:

    I made my first batch and added lots of garlic and onion powder (have to try with fresh next time). It was very good.

  21. Zsa Zsa says:

    I made mine into a hungarian parika dip.
    It has some finely chopped onion, paprika powder, salt, tiny bit of mustard and butter.

  22. Sharon Flynn says:

    I just made it with fresh grated turmeric, crushed garlic, finely chopped chives, black pepper and sea salt. Delicious! Kids just ate a whole batch with spelt crackers.

  23. Bonnita says:

    Due to unforseen circumstances, my kefir jar has been on the counter for 5 days without being stirred. It has now separated and is very bumpy on top with what looks like a thin yellowish layer. It smells fine to me, but I don’t know if it’s still alright to drink or make cheese out of it.

    • Donna says:

      Hi Bonnita. It depends in part on how warm it has been where the kefir is sitting, but I’ve had a similar situation and managed to rescue my grains and the kefir. The thin yellowish layer could be one of two things (in my experience at least), if you are using raw, un-homogenized milk with full cream the yellow layer could be the cream separating out. If this is the case it’s fine to eat. Otherwise, it could be the kefir going bad. I depend on my sharp sense of smell to tell me if something is bad or not. And after over-fermenting them you’ll want to ‘rest’ the grains for a while to bring them back into balance and normalize them.

      You can ‘rest’ the kefir grainsby putting them in yogurt, or a half-and-half mix of milk and yogurt and store them in a sealed container in the fridge for several days. The longer you leave them the more of the sour taste will be removed. This also works when your kefir (or grains) get to ‘yeasty’ tasting/smelling, which imparts that same smell/taste to the kefir. You can leave the grains resting in the fridge for a few days up to a couple of weeks or more. Sometimes you may need to do this periodically to bring the grains back into balance if they have been over-fermented. I hope that helps.

  24. Melody says:

    I have had no problem making the cheese but I can’t seem to flavor it w/o still tasting a soured milk taste. I have about a cup of cheese each time and I have experimented twice so far but it still has that pungent sour taste…can you help me out? I am using fresh cow milk over my kefir grains.

    • Donna says:

      Hi Melody. Since fermented foods do have a sour taste you probably won’t be able to get away from it entirely, and the sour taste itself has a medicinal effect (the bitter taste is similar). But you should be able to mask most of that taste by adding salt, as well as the herbs. You could also just not ferment the kefir for as long, this will cut down on the sour taste, but be aware that the trade-off is that the kefir won’t be as fermented, so the beneficial effect possibly won’t be as great. Finally, kefir grains can get to the point where they become over-fermented and so tend to over-ferment their batches of kefir. To remedy this you can ‘rest’ the kefir grains. To rest the grains put them in yogurt, or a half-and-half mix of milk and yogurt and store them in a sealed container in the fridge for several days. The longer you leave them the more of the sour taste will be removed. This also works when your kefir (or grains) get to ‘yeasty’ tasting/smelling, which imparts that same smell/taste to the kefir. You can leave the grains resting in the fridge for a few days up to a couple of weeks or more. Sometimes you may need to do this periodically to bring the grains back into balance if they have been over-fermented.

  25. Mary says:

    I am new at making kefir cheese and have a question. How do you separate the grains before making cheese?
    You know when the whey separates with the grains at the top of the jar, how do you take out just the grains so you can make cheese with the rest?
    There isn’t much left when I take out the grains. What am I doing wrong?

    • Donna says:

      Hi Mary. You do want to take the grains out before you make the cheese because it’s much easier, and better for the grains.

      To remove the grains from the kefir, I just make sure it’s in a container that I can easily get my hand into and then I sweep through it with my fingers and catch the grains. Once I have some in my hand I squeeze them to get some of the kefir out, and to stimulate them to grow and release the kefiran (which makes it more beneficial for you) and set them in a new jar to begin my next brew of kefir. You only need 1 tablespoon of kefir grains to ferment a cup of milk. So if you have a big mass of grains it’s best to divide them up and make more (or bigger) batches of kefir. You can also sell, trade or give away extra grains or eat them. I love them, and so do my dogs. They have all the probiotic benefits of the kefir itself. The grains grow over time, if they are healthy they grow quite rapidly.

      Since you said you’re new at it I just wanted to clarify that when the whey separates from the milk solids and kefir grains, the white stuff at the top is not necessarily all grains, even though it may look lumpy and solid like the grains. So be sure that you are taking out just the grains, they will be rubbery in texture. You can actually squeeze them out like a sponge. If there is a lot of milk fat and milk solids on the kefir grains, once you grab them you can bring them to the bottom of the jar into the whey to help rinse them off. The grains themselves will look like cauliflower florets. They are chewy if you eat them. Whereas the kefir and cheese will more or less melt in your mouth without much chewing.

  26. Mary says:

    Thank you Donna,
    What I did was strain them like I usually do for the kefir in my plastic strainer and then that liquid I strained again thru cheese cloth ,the liquid that came off the grains , I didn’t squeeze the grains, next time I will, leaving the grains in the strainer for the next batch of kefir. It seemed to work as I have a nice ball of something that tastes good. LOL This is fun!

  27. Mele says:

    How do I order Kefir grains from the person in Manoa?

  28. Shay says:

    Can’t remember where I got this recipe, but I haven’t tried it yet. It sounds pretty yummy.

    No Bake Cheese Cake:

    2 cups kefir cheese
    1 cup raw cream
    2 tablespoons never-heated honey (some bee keepers use heat to extact the honey from the hive)
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    In medium-size mixing bowl, whip the cream, honey and vanilla until stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the kefir cheese with a spatula. Pour this mixture on top of the crust (recipe below) orleave as is w/o a crust. Refrigerate for at least four hours. Top with fruit, chocolate sauce, whatever.

    Oops! I didn’t write down the recipe for the crust! It was your standad raw crust of dates and raw, sprouted nuts in the food processor then pressed into a pie plate.

    • Donna says:

      Wow, thanks so much Shay! It sounds yummy, I’ll have to try it when I get my kefir producing more. I had to dehydrate and then reconstitute my kefir grains because I moved overseas, so it’s the first time I’m bringing them ‘back to life’, so to speak. They are kefiring the milk, but not yet growing to where I can make 2 cups. I look forward to when they are at that point and I can try that.

      • Agnieszka says:

        Hi Donna,

        Any time I want to have more kefir than my grains are producing I take 1/2 cup of the finished kefir and mix it with a liter of milk and leave that on the counter (covered with a dark cloth to preserve the vit B) for another day or until it thickens and presto I have an extra liter of kefir ready for my experiments 🙂


        • Donna says:

          Thanks for posting that Agnieszka, it’s a great tip! Thank you for also mentioning that keeping it covered with a dark cloth preserves the B vitamins. I knew it was better for both Kombucha and Kefir to have them in a dark environment when they are fermenting, but I never knew why. That’s a useful piece of information, because sometimes I am a bit lazy and don’t keep them covered, although they are out of direct sunlight. Now I’ll make the extra effort to keep them well covered.

  29. Sonya says:

    I have a new plan to make kefir every day as usual, but to only drink the whey and put the grains and curds back into the next batch, and then at the end of the week to make kefir cheese with all the extra (bigger batch of) curds. Anybody ever try this? Any reason why this is a bad idea?! Thanks 🙂 Sonya

    • Donna says:

      Hi Sonya. I always save my grains and add them to the next batch because that’s the way to keep your kefir going, but I’ve never added the curds back in. They may get over fermented if you do that. It will probably be easier to remove the grains to start a new batch, strain the whey out daily (making cheese in the process) and drink that. You could save a few days worth of curds and combine them to make cheese. I had enough grains that I could make about a litre/quart of kefir a day, so that was plenty for making a decent amount of cheese.

  30. Valentina says:

    I’ve just finished making basil/garlic kefir cheese and it’s incredible. I used the frozen minced garlic and frozen pureed basil that you can get at Trader Joe’s because we just moved and it was easier with a kitchen that is not fully unpacked. Can’t say I can complain! Salt and pepper to taste. My daughter is in heaven.

  31. Marianne says:

    Hi, I used kefir which I bought in a packet. I did like you said, except I used raw goats milk. However now the milk has this weird stringy texture. Is this ok?

    • Donna says:

      Hi Marianne. It’s fine to use raw goats milk. The main differences are that the fat content of goat’s milk is not as high as cow’s milk, and the molecules are smaller, closer in size to human milk. Which is apparently why some people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk are fine with goat milk.

      I’m not sure about the stringiness. You’ll have to contact the people who make the packet starter you used and ask them about that.

  32. Judy says:

    This is the first time I have been to your website. I am interested in making kefir cheese. Kefir and I only go back about 6 weeks. I am getting into the rhythm of making it and using it. I had seen a comment about making kefir cheese and this whetted my appetite, so to speak, I need to know, is it ok to use kefir that has been in a bottle in the fridge for a week or more to make cheese?
    Thank you very much,


    • Donna says:

      I think it should be okay Judy. If you let the kefir set in the fridge for 24 hours after it’s fermented into kefir it increases the nutritional value. In my experience it also thickens a bit more in that time, and so it’s even more effective for making cheese with. So I think yours should work just fine.

  33. Della Katon says:

    I just made a kefir cream cheese pie with strawberries and it is so much better tasting than the store bought cream cheese. I used about 2 qrts. of thick kefir strained to make the cheese. I can hardly wait until I make the next one with cherry topping. Watch out hips.

  34. Devon Plumley says:

    I ended up here curious about people’s experiences adding fresh herbs to Kefir Cheese.
    I want to add basil to my recipe but I am unsure how fresh herbs react as the cheese continues to cure. In other words, I know it is O.K. to make up a Kefir Cheese Dip with anything fresh and eat it right away but how long can a Kefir Cheese blend sit and still be good. My personal answer in short is that Kefir Cheese rarely if ever goes bad. This is the beauty of cheese that is a living full culture/colony. Even an inherent organism that found its way through some fresh garlic would be overcome and destroyed by the kefir scoby! Therefore the only question in my mind is how the additional ingredients react. If you have ever cultured any vegetables with Kefir grains then you have an idea. This will be the potential flavor matrix with which your taste buds will interact… (still struggling with “to which” vs “with which”). My personal observation is that herbs that would normally turn brown stay green-ish when being preserved by Kefir.

    My favorite Kefir Dressing ioncluding grains if they fall though is as follows.
    And BTW, this is perfect for Cherry Tomato dipping:

    Kefir (and any stray kefir grains)
    Soy Sauce
    Raw Honey
    Vinegar of choice (ideally Kombucha)
    Sesame Seeds (possibly toasted)
    Nutritional Yeast
    Black Pepper
    Cayenne Pepper
    Oil of your choice be it
    Flax or Olive Oil etc…
    Water if necessary for consistency — but do’nt over thin it!
    For extra kick for spice lovers add Habanero Pepper(s).

    I think you’ll find sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and bitter? all present…
    Maybe even astringent.

    Make it thick enough to dip a cherry tomato and get back to me.
    I am going to the kitchen to eat another one!

  35. zmich says:

    Thank you Donna.
    I prepared mine the ‘labane’ style by mixing the drained cheese with za’atar sea salt and olive oil – better than the real thing.
    If you try this beware that za’atar mixtures may come salty, so be gentle with the salt.
    I thought trying to use the whey to prepare sour bread dough – anybody tried it?

    • Donna says:

      Zmich, that sounds tasty! I will have to try it. I have never made sourdough bread with the whey, but I know that other people bake with whey and/or kefir. You can also use the whey as a starter for other fermented foods.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

    • frances says:

      I read 48 hours is too long and the grains are starving so rather shorten the period. My fresh Kefir grains flourish and I have them in a glass jug. I stir the milk every few hours when I see the Whey forming with a wooden spoon. Judge what level of sourness you prefer. The longer the time the more sour the milk. I pour the Kefir milk into a plastic colander which is in a glass bowl. Using a wooden spoon I move the grains around to release as much liquid as possible. I then use my ‘clean’ hands and pick up the remaining ‘cauliflower’ grains and curds and put them into a clean jug with UHT milk. I live in South Africa and read that if the grains thrive, grow and the Kefir Milk tastes good then UHT milk is fine to use.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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!

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

  43. Pamela M. Conley says:

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

  44. 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]. 😀

      • 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! 😀 And the fact he’s also a fellow Christian, is all the better!

          • Frances says:

            Wow! $30/cup. My grains have multiplied so much that I am now using them for compost in the garden as I cannot keep up with the amount of milk I am using.
            Frances from Sunny South Africa

            • Donna says:

              Frances, you can eat them too. I love them, they are like tart gummy bears (only healthy for you). You could also sell or give them away in your local area… spread the goodness 🙂

  45. 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.

    • Lori says:

      Victoria, I’ve heard the same thing, but i never tried it, living with grown children can present some unique problems most people don’t face, I’ve just moved into my own place after living with roommates or my children for too many years, and my new found desire to live healthy and do things like ferment and stuff partially prompted me into moving, but I don’t know if maybe you can put your kefir into a cabinet or someplace that is out of line of your daughter, i hope this might help, i was lucky enough to have the finished basement, and although I didn’t have a kitchen at my immediate disposal, it was upstairs, i was able to ferment away from, others who were not sold on my new life.

    • Frances says:

      The way I understand it is that Kefir Milk is made outside the fridge. Only when you want to slow down the process and/or take a break from making it, then you put it into the fridge. The ratio sounds correct. Now leave it outside the fridge in a convenient spot away from direct heat or a draught. Use a wooden spoon to stir it every few hours. Strain it after 3 days (maximum 36 hours) always using plastic, glass or wood. Place grain & curd in a clean glass jar and pour on more milk. I use a liter of milk in my water jug as I have so much grains. Do not leave the grains for longer than 36 hours as they will be starving and need fresh milk. Hope this helps.

  46. Anna says:

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

  47. 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?!!

    • Lori says:

      I like to add the extra whey to my drinks, it makes the regular non carbonated drink a little healthier, personally i have a thing for those kool aide like drink mixes, but a little better for you the ones with natural type stuff, but i like to add some whey, coconut water, along with regular water, when I make it this way i tend to use less drink mix, and even when I have to buy the not so natural ones, i feel a better about what i’m putting into my body, also mix it with your kids favorite drinks especially if your trying to get healthy probiotics into them and they don’t want any part of it.

    • Patti Hoffman says:

      Whey is an excellent marinade for meat. It tenderizes nicely. Just cover your steak with whey in the fridge for 4 to 8 hours and cook as usual. I suppose you could add garlic and/or herbs to it also before marinating.

  48. Brad Youngblood says:

    I thought that once you drained the whey from the kefir that you have ‘sour cream’? Does arriving at ‘sour cream’ occur anywhere along the process?

    • Lori says:

      Yes, the kefir thickens as the whey comes out of it, if you want it to be the consistency of sour cream just keep an eye on it, and stop straining the whey when it reaches the desired consistency, I also add milk powder to mine so it thickens it even before I strain it and then you don’t have to strain as long, and don’t have to use as much kefir to get the desired amount of sour cream, or cheese, if you haven’t already I suggest experimenting with it and then you’ll find what works best for you.

  49. Barbara Ritthaler says:

    Hi Donna,

    I just discovered your website! I love my labneh with a smattering of pistachio and cranberry or mixed with feta cheese and topped with olive oil and zatar. Keep it up! Thanks so much.

  50. peggy says:

    I just made my first batch of kefir cheese. After 48 hours in the fridge, it is still the consistency of sour cream. Does anyone know how to get it to thicken?

    • frances says:

      I live in South Africa so not sure if weather plays a part. After draining the Kefir Milk for approx 24 hours I find a smooth, soft cheese on the cloth which I can spoon and scrape off. I only make 2 cups of liquid at a time. Maybe you are making too large an amount of Kefir Milk at a time. Reduce the amount and you may get the Cream Cheese that I make and serve with Sweet Chilli Sauce and if left longer and pressed with a weight then maybe this will give you cheese. I do not put my draining Kefir milk in the fridge but leave it out with a cloth over it so that dust and fruit flies do not get into it. Works for me.

  51. Marcie says:

    Hi folks, thanks so much for your shared wisdom. I have followed the advise for cheese making and recipes. They are fantastic. I have a question. Has anyone tried to freeze their kefir cheese? How did you do it and how did it work out? I am love my kefir cheese and have an abundance. I have given it to friends and neighbors. We are got g to have a street party i. A couple of months and I want to make a huge spread of kefir cheese. So freeze it?

  52. Birdie says:

    I was wondering is the curd the same as the kefir grains

    • Donna says:

      No Birdie, they are not the same thing. The kefir grains are a very different and they contain the organisms that ferments the milk. They are like the starter culture. The curds are the result of the milk fermenting and separating into solids (curds) and liquid (whey).

  53. kk says:

    I am wondering is kefir cheese freezable ? Not that I’ll ever get a abundance with my eater but just incase .. 😉 and also is it ok to add spices herbs and say black olives to kefir balls stored in olive oil. I’ve just started my adventure in milk kefir and am having a hard time finding recipes and info on it.

    Thank you for any and all info

  54. Amy says:

    Do you strain the kefir grains out first?