Hard kefir cheese is a great way to use up over-cultured kefir. Pressed kefir curds turn into a thick crumbly cheese that is similar to fresh feta cheese. It is flavorful, tangy, and probiotic!
How to Make Hard kefir cheese
There are two methods for making hard kefir cheese. The hanging ball method makes a softer, spreadable cheese. Pressing the curds results in a firm, crumbly feta-like cheese.
In either case, follow the recipe at the bottom of the post, then finish the cheese using one of these two methods.
1. Hanging ball method
The hanging ball method is the EASIEST way to make a firm cheese. It results in a soft cheese that is most similar to Bulgarian-style feta. While it can be crumbled into salads, it’s also delicious as a spread.
Here is how to make kefir cheese using the hanging ball method.
- After straining and salting the cheese curds as directed in the recipe, knot the ends of the cheesecloth and hang the ball of cheese over a large bowl or measuring cup. (See photo above).
- Leave the cheese to drain for 24 hours.
- If it is warmer than 21C / 70F in your house, then I recommend allowing the cheese to drain in the fridge to prevent further souring.
2. Pressed kefir cheese
Making pressed kefir cheese doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow the recipe at the bottom of the post, the press the cheese at whatever weight you want. The amount of weight will dictate the firmness of the cheese.
- For a crumbly ricotta-style cheese use about 2 lbs of weight.
- A firm, feta-like cheese requires around 5 lbs of weight.
- Using 20 lbs of weight will result in a cheese that is firm enough to be sliced and grated!
As you can see from the photo above, I usually use whatever is on hand for my weight. The weights from my scale and a large can of tomatoes add up to 5 lbs of weight.
For a really DIY cheesemaking experience, here is how to make a simple cheese mold out of a large tin can.
Here are the steps for making pressed kefir cheese:
- Line a cheese mold with butter muslin.
- Pack the salted curds into the lined mold.
- Press at 2 lbs of weight for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, turn the cheese over and increase to 5 lbs weight.
- If you are using more than 5 lbs weight, turn the cheese one more time and increase to the final weight.
- Press the cheese for 24 hours, then store in the fridge until ready to serve.
How to use kefir cheese
I am constantly making kefir cheese because it is an affordable, zero-waste, and healthy alternative to cream cheese, feta, and ricotta.
The consistency of the cheese depends on how long the cheese is pressed and much weight is used for pressing. See more information in the sections above.
Here are just a few recipes that are perfect for kefir cheese:
- Use the hanging ball method to make a soft, spreading cheese. My kids love Boursin flavored cheese.
- Cheese pressed with 2 lbs of weight is similar to firm cream cheese. It is perfect for making cream cheese frosting or herb-marinated cheese balls.
- To make a feta-like cheese, press with 5-10 lbs of weight. Firm kefir cheese is a delicious alternative to ricotta in lasagna or feta in spanakopita.
Firm Kefir Cheese
Learn how to turn over-cultured kefir into a firm cultured cheese! This simple recipe doesn’t require any cooking or rennet. See the sections above for information on how to finish the cheese by hanging it or pressing it.
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- Category: Cheese
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Probiotic
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 4 cups of thick curded milk kefir
- 1/2 tsp of salt (non-iodized)
- While kefir cheese can be made from accidentally over-cultured kefir, it’s better if the kefir is intentionally allowed to curdle.
- To curdle milk kefir for cheese, remove the grains from well-cultured, thick kefir. Allow the kefir to sit out on the counter for an additional 12-24 hours until it has fully separated into curds and whey.
- Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth. Pour the curded kefir into the colander to drain away most of the whey. I recommend catching the whey because it is full of probiotics and perfect for culturing all sorts of other ferments. See the notes at the bottom of the recipe for some suggested ways to use kefir whey!
- Allow the curds to drain for 4 to 6 hours.
- After this initial draining, sprinkle on 1/2 tsp of salt. Stir it into the thickened kefir. The cheese can be used at this point for soft cheese. However, I recommend making a firm cheese using the hanging ball method or pressing the curds. Both of these options are described in detail in the sections above.
- Store homemade kefir cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
- This recipe is for cheese made from milk kefir. To make cheese from yogurt, follow this recipe for labneh.
- Kefir whey is incredibly useful. It can be used for baking, culturing vegetables, or adding a dose of probiotics to dips and sauces.
- If this is your first time making cheese, I recommend reading my post on how to make cheese at home for more details on each of the steps involved.
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