Anyone making kefir on a regular basis will occasionally end up with separated milk kefir. Though it’s the result of over-culturing, it is also a great way to make kefir cheese. In fact, I often purposely clabber my milk kefir because I love kefir cheese and kefir whey.
Why milk kefir separates
When I make cheese, I usually let the kefir milk separate AFTER I’ve removed the kefir grain. However, occasionally I accidentally make separated milk kefir while culturing. Here are the main reasons why kefir separates:
- The ratio of kefir grains to milk is off. Check out this post on how to culture milk kefir for the proper ratio of grains to milk.
- The milk kefir was cultured too long. It’s best to store your kefir in the fridge if you’re going away on holiday or you can take it with you.
- It was too warm, so your kefir cultured faster than usual. In the winter kefir can sit out on the counter all the time, however, in the summer kefir may start to separate within 12 hours.
Separating curds and whey
I usually strain my separated milk kefir through two layers of regular cheesecloth. You can also use one layer of actual cheese making cheesecloth.
When the whey has strained for about 30 minutes, I gather up the ends of my cheesecloth and knot it together around a wooden spoon and hang it over a large measuring cup.
Here’s what the ball of cheese looks like after 6 hours of hanging. It’s firm on the outside, but still quite soft inside. At this point, you can finish your cheese by mixing in some salt. This is also when you can add flavours to your kefir cheese.
How to use kefir cheese and whey
Kefir cheese is a soft, creamy and slightly tart cheese. Here are a few different ways to use homemade cheese:
- You can use it like ricotta for dishes like lasagna.
- Savoury cream cheese spread (see below for flavour options).
- It can be used to make probiotic treats like kefir cheese frosting or cheesecake.
- You can also press soft cheese into a firm feta-like cheese.
- I often make kefir cheese just because I want to use the whey! I use it for culturing everything from vegetables to beans. Check out this post for a few ways to use up kefir whey. Just note that kefir whey is an acid whey and can’t be used for recipes calling for sweet whey.
My favourite way to enjoy kefir cheese is turning into a flavourful cheese spread. It’s perfect for savoury flavours like herbs and garlic. Here are a few suggestions for making your own flavoured cheese:
- 1/4 cup of chopped chives and 1 tbsp of olive oil (in the photo below)
- 1/4 cup of fresh basil and 1 clove of garlic (finely diced)
- You can also make a Boursin flavoured kefir cheese
Homemade Kefir Cheese
Kefir cheese is a delicious soft cheese that is a lot like feta or cream cheese. It’s easy to make, all you have to do is culture kefir long enough for it to separate into the curds and whey. See the section above for a few ways to enjoy this delicious and probiotic cheese.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 3 cups of cheese 1x
- Category: Cheese
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Probiotic
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1 Liter of milk
- 2 tbsp kefir grains
- 1/4 tsp of salt (non-iodized)
- Culture your kefir for 24 hours. Then remove the grains from the cultured milk. At this point the kefir won’t have fully separated into curds and whey, so leave it on the counter (without the grains) for another 12-24 hours until it has separated.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the kefir through the layers of cheesecloth. Allow to drain for 30 minutes.
- Hang the kefir (as shown in the photo above) and drain for another 4-8 hours.
- Mix in the salt (and any additional flavours) and refrigerate. Use the cheese within 2 weeks, as it will continue to sour and ferment.
- See the section above for more information on each of the steps.
- Kefir cheese is tastier when it’s not made with over-cultured kefir. However, if you accidentally over culture your kefir (before you remove the grains) just use a sieve to strain out the grains, then let your kefir sit for another 2 hours separate again and then make cheese.
Keywords: cream cheese, feta, probiotic, over cultured, separated, cheese spread, herbs, garlic, gluten free, keto,