With a similar texture to cream cheese, kefir cheese gets its name from the bacterial culture that is used to make this cheese. Kefir grains are combined with milk to create a gut-healthy drink that can then be turned into cheese. It has a sour and tangy taste that can be added to other dishes or eaten as a spread on its own.
This article will not only give you a great kefir cheese recipe to make from scratch but also delicious recipes you can add your kefir cheese to. It is easy to make and is a good alternative for those that are lactose intolerant. Kefir cheese can be used as a cream cheese, sour cream, or feta cheese replacement because of its texture and sour yogurt taste!
To Make Kefir Cheese, Start by Making Kefir Milk
When making kefir cheese from scratch, you will first want to make kefir milk. This is the combination of milk and kefir. You can choose from a variety of milk, both dairy and non-dairy, depending on preference and tolerance. The lactose levels in kefir cheese are very low as the bacteria in kefir consumes them in the process (Source: WebMD).
We recommend making kefir cheese from scratch as opposed to purchasing store-bought kefir milk. This will help to ensure the consistency is correct.
To make kefir milk, you will want to follow these instructions:
- Gather your ingredients: This is a simple recipe only requiring milk and kefir grains. The quantities you purchase will depend on the amount of cheese you want to make. A little kefir grain goes a long way, with one teaspoon of kefir being suitable for 1.5 cups of milk. Milk with fat in it often yields the best results.
- Mix the ingredients: In a glass jar (large enough to leave a little room at the top, add two teaspoons of kefir grain. Add three cups of milk to the jar and place a lid on top. You do not want to tighten the lid so that air can escape. You can adjust the recipe amounts based on how much cheese you want. A cup of kefir milk will typically produce ½ cup of kefir cheese.
- Let it sit: The kefir mixture needs time to ferment, around 24 hours or so. You should put it in a warm and dark place so that the reaction can occur. You will notice the reaction has occurred when bubbles have formed, and the mixture has expanded. For kefir cheese specifically, you should go over this 24-hour mark to ‘over-ferment’ for best results.
- Drain the milk: Shake the mixture well and then pour it through a strainer. This will allow you to recollect the kefir grains. Kefir grains can be reused over and over to make more kefir, making the little grains very resourceful (Source: Cultures for Health).
Making Kefir Cheese from Kefir Milk
Now that you have your kefir milk, you can either drink it on its own or continue to make kefir cheese. Fortunately, this is the easiest part of the process and only requires more waiting. All you will need is a coffee filter or cheesecloth and a strainer.
Here is the easiest way to make kefir cheese:
- Prepare your workspace: Line a mesh strainer with a cheesecloth or coffee filter and place it into a bowl. The bowl will catch the liquid that drains from the kefir milk.
- Pour the kefir milk into the strainer: Make sure the strainer is large enough for the milk, or you will have to do it in multiple batches. You will notice that the kefir milk will sit in the cheesecloth or filter and slowly release liquid. This is the separation of cheese and the whey draining underneath. Whey can also be used for recipes and is a very nutritionally beneficial cheese by-product (Source: The Guardian).
- Store it in the fridge: You will place the entire bowl into the fridge overnight and examine results. The cheese will have hardened, and whey will be underneath. If you want to have a harder or thicker cheese, you can let the mixture sit longer in the fridge.
- Enjoy: Remove the cheese from the strainer, and it is ready to eat. You can continue to store it in the fridge for later consumption. Cover the cheese when stored (it will continue to ferment, so eat it sooner than later to avoid extra tartness).
Making kefir cheese is a simple process that you can add to many recipes. If you are looking for a little flavor, we also recommend adding some spices and ingredients to the cheese for some variety. We recommend adding these ingredients after the cheese process is done. You can choose to eat it plain but adding a little salt can finish it off.
Using that same process, these are the following kefir cheese recipes to consider:
- Sweet kefir cheese: To put on bagels and toast, you can add honey, cinnamon, or vanilla to your kefir cheese recipe. These can be added to taste but work conservatively and add more if needed. Fruits and jams also have a similar effect for a flavored cream cheese substitute.
- Savory spread: Choose your favorite herb and add some garlic and olive oil for a great spread on crackers! Dill, chives, and thyme complement kefir cheese well and will add some flavor to your cheese (Source: Spices Inc).
How to Use Kefir Cheese in Recipes
You can use kefir cheese as a replacement for similarly tasting (not many cheeses taste like this tangy yogurt) and textured cheeses. It is most notably used as a replacement for sour cream, cream cheese, or feta cheese. Bagels, crackers, baked potatoes, toppings for salads, and anything else you would put cheese on!
You can also use kefir cheese in recipes as a thickening agent. Consider adding kefir cheese into smoothies (keeps a yogurt taste) and soups. Any creamy soup will benefit from its addition, but make sure that the cheese can be fully incorporated for a smooth consistency.
Our favorite kefir cheese recipes are dips!
Three Great Kefir Dip Recipes
Whether it’s for fruit or for chips and veggies, you can make delicious spreads easily. We recommend using a food processor to combine all the ingredients properly.
- Kefir fruit dip: The portions of kefir cheese will determine the amount of dip made. Add your favorite fruits in about half the quantity as not to make the dip too sweet (or add more fruit if that’s your goal!). Our favorite additions are pineapples or strawberries. Fruit pairs well with cheeses, and nearly all fruits you would eat with yogurt work well with kefir.
- Kefir guacamole: Using your favorite guacamole recipe, you will want to use kefir cheese as a thickening agent or a replacement to recipes that call for sour cream. With a single avocado, you can be using about 1/3 to ½ a cup of kefir, along with your tomatoes, peppers, lime, and cilantro to taste.
- Kefir Pesto: Pesto can be added to a kefir cheese for a more interesting dip. It will make your pesto creamier and can be used on pasta when melted or dipped with crostini.
While kefir cheese has a unique taste, it provides plenty of health benefits that other cheeses don’t. As with all fermented foods, kefir is an excellent probiotic that is incredibly beneficial for gut health (Source: Healthline). Kefir contains higher quantities of probiotics than traditional yogurts, offering more benefits per serving.
One of its other important draws is for people who are lactose intolerant. The fermentation process eats up the sugars (lactose) found in milk. This makes it easier for many people to digest and still allows them to eat cheese! With many different ways to prepare and season it, kefir cheese is an easy addition to anyone’s recipe routine.