Most folks look at cheese as a healthy protein and dairy food. But when you consider that the milk used to make the cheese probably had additives and that the cheese has additives, the health-promoting aspect of that cheese diminishes greatly. How refreshing that making cheese at home, from healthier ingredients, is a simple task.
I absolutely love cream cheese and the myriad ways to use it in the kitchen. I do not love, however, the artificial thickeners often used in popular store-bought brands. Imagine my delight when I found that the kefir I make every day can also be transformed into a soft, spreadable cheese that is a perfect substitute! This recipe for kefir cream cheese is dazzlingly easy, and it is also a great way to use excess kefir. (If you find yourself a little over-blessed by your grain’s daily offerings.)
How to Make Kefir Cream Cheese
- Cheesecloth or a thin, cotton cloth
- Heavyweight (I often use a full Pyrex container)
- Strainer or colander
- Non-metal bowl (for catching whey)
As much kefir as you want to turn into cheese.
Note: When I do this recipe, I find that 3 cups of kefir yields a cup and a half of cheese and about a cup and a half of acid whey.
Position your colander above your non-metal bowl so that it is not in contact with the bottom of the bowl. Line the colander with a cloth. If you’re using cheaper cheesecloth, you may need to use two layers; the kefir drips through otherwise!
Slowly pour the kefir into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Twist the top of the cloth shut and secure with a rubber band.
Allow the kefir to slowly drain in the refrigerator. I find this step usually takes about four hours.
When the kefir has stopped dripping, pour the whey into a jar to save for later. If necessary, untie and tighten the top of the cloth to be more snug around your thickened lump of kefir and then re-tie, re-position in the colander and place a weight on top of the forming cheese. Allow to press and drain, under refrigeration, overnight, or at least for eight hours.
In the morning, you’ll be greeted with a little more whey and a lovely, soft lump of kefir cheese! To celebrate, spread a generous portion on your morning toast with some raspberry jam—it’s truly delicious.
What does it taste like?
The taste of kefir cream cheese is a little less tart than kefir, but a lot more tangy than what you would expect from a store-bought cream cheese. I find it pleasant and reminiscent of a creamy lemon curd.
What do I do with the whey?
And don’t toss out that probiotic-rich acid whey! Though it can’t be used to make ricotta or other sweet whey cheeses, it can be drunk as-is for a refreshingly sour beverage with a gut-healthy kick, or sweetened for a sort of “lemonade,” that is lovely in the hot summer months. And if nothing else, your plants can use it as a fertilizer (just dilute it with equal parts water).
How do I serve Kefir Cream Cheese?
You can use your kefir cream cheese much in the same way as you would use store-bought cream cheese. Though the flavor is a little different, you can rest easy knowing that you aren’t consuming artificial thickeners, and your microbiome will thank you for the treat!
If you have never made kefir before, check out the following posts:
- How to Make Milk Kefir Simply
- Kefir Helps Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
- Can a Lactose-intolerant Person Eat Yogurt or Other Dairy Ferments?
Andrew and Michelle are the new owners of a 12-acre homestead in rural America. They are just embarking on this journey that is far removed from their city-life upbringing, so they realize that they have a lot to learn in order to succeed in this new place. Come along with them and read more about what they learn as they make this transition at their blog Simple Life Homestead.