How to make homemade soft kefir cheese (or yogurt cheese)

I'm a big fan of homemade kefir! Sometimes we're making a cup a day, and sometimes (like right now!) I'm making 6-8 cups each day! (I'll be giving away a bunch of grains next week, and cut my supply back down.)

I've given you lots of ideas for how to use homemade kefir, and hopefully convinced at least a few of you to give it a try! Once you have a couple small kefir grains, the possibilities are endless. In the past year of regularly making kefir, I have given excess grains to a couple dozen friends and family members, several of whom I know have passed on the favor to their own friends when their grains grew plentiful! :) Kefir is the ultimate healthy "friendship bread" replacement! ;)

So what's new in my kefir world? Soft cheese, that's what. It's easy, tasty, and a great use for extra kefir. Here's what my kefir cheese looks like spread over a homemade rosemary cracker (cracker recipe tomorrow):

Soft kefir cheese spread on a homemade rosemary cracker
Soft kefir cheese spread on a rosemary cracker

Kefir cheese and rosemary crackers are my favorite combination (that I've tried so far). If you don't like rosemary, you'll have to use another kind of cracker. Joshua doesn't care for rosemary, but he loves this cheese on garlic Parmesan crackers! :)

Now, don't be afraid. That snack looks all gourmet-like, and I'll admit that it tastes amazing! But I made kefir cheese while I slept and the had the kids help me make rosemary crackers the next morning. If I can do it, you can too!

Soft kefir (or yogurt) cheese

Here's how simple it is to make kefir cheese. (You can use homemade yogurt instead of kefir if you want. I've done both, and the results are similarly delicious.)

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth or (as I did) a thin clean dish towel.

2. Pour your kefir (or yogurt) into the towel. Let drain. Cheese! (See my full recipe for more details.)

At any point in the draining process, you can use the cheese. Drain for a shorter time and you'll get a sour cream consistency. A longer time of draining and you'll have something like cream cheese.

Notice I said "something LIKE cream cheese". Notice I said "a sour cream CONSISTENCY". We are not making kefir sour cream. We are not making kefir cream cheese. We are not making kefir cottage cheese.

Soft kefir cheese is something similar, and could be substituted for, but is not the same as all those other things.

Now, that said, this homemade kefir cheese is a perfect substitute for sour cream! It's a fabulous cheese spread for crackers. And everyone who has tried ours, loves it!

Soft kefir (or yogurt) cheese
Soft kefir cheese (left) and the whey that drains off (right)

I have yet to do a complete cost analysis and compare making my kefir cheese substitutes to what I would pay at Costco. A whole lot of whey drains out of the cheese, especially if you're going for a cream cheese texture. And if you don't have a good use for all that whey (which can be used in place of buttermilk, used for soaking grains, etc.) then you may end up tossing some.

And, giving credit where it is due, my first introduction to the idea of kefir cheese was from Gnowfglins. Here's Wardeh's video showing just how it's done!

Have you made kefir or yogurt cheese? What are your favorite ways to serve it?

Coming tomorrow: Homemade Rosemary Crackers


Sounds and looks yummy! The crackers look fabulous! We've been making kefir a gallon at a time when my six kids and I were ill, and wondered what else we could use it for besides drinking. Currently, we're making our kefir from purchased kefir, using 1/2 cup to 1 gallon of milk, and it's ready in less than 24 hours in this heat. But my supplier (Aldi) quit selling it. :(

I'd be interested in obtaining grains if someone has extras. I'm happy to pay a reasonable fee and postage if they're mailable. (Sorry if this is considered off topic.)

What does the kefir cheese taste like? We love goat cheese but it's super expensive. Is this similar?

I do think it is similar to goat cheese -- but without the "goaty" flavor. :) It's tart and creamy... It's hard to describe but if you use or like sour cream (the good kind -- with cream and enzymes, nothing else) or cream cheese, the kefir cheese is kind of an in-between option...

I had some Chavrie goat cheese recently and thought that it was very similar to my kefir cheese! The Chavrie was a little more silky though, and had the goat after-taste.

I made yogurt cheese (cream cheese) last weekend. I have been making 4+qt of yogurt a week now for several months (thanks for giving me the idea to do it) and I just made a raspberry cream cheese coffee cake with it today (it is rising now). I won't have to buy cream cheese anymore.
I have to try the kefir, I only just started eating the yogurt, but I am totally hooked. I put homemade jam in the bowl and mix it up.

I do think the kefir cheese makes a great cream cheese substitute for spreads or dips. Have you tried making a baked cheesecake with kefir cheese? I doubt I will be brave enough to try, but I am curious as to the texture that would result!

I had been told that cream cheese can be frozen with no noticeable difference but we tried it recently and noticed a HUGE difference. The thawed cream cheese worked for some recipes (apple dip, for example) and others -- blah! I made a baked cheesecake that turned out "good" but didn't have the right texture at all! I thought it was horrible. :)

By the way, great job making your own yogurt! :) I'm still a bigger kefir fan than yogurt fan, but I've made yogurt cheese from some of my homemade yogurt attempts and it's pretty good (and not quite as tart as kefir cheese). :)

So weird.....I've made kefir cheese the past two days and wrote up a blog post about it. :-) It really is super easy. Great minds think alike.
I also like using my kefir to make cottage cheese and your ice cream.

~Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents

How do you make your kefir cottage cheese? Do you add vinegar and such? I've thought about trying something like that but... are the curds just like store-bought cottage cheese, or different? :) I am not the biggest cottage cheese fan I guess... ;)

You are the first person I've heard say that this is not "cream cheese", and I heartily agree! To me, this kind of cheese IS delicious, but it's nothing like cream cheese, or mascarpone which is similar to cream cheese. I've made mascarpone before, and it was not a matter of draining some yogurt! And I've made cream cheese. The textures are different as night and day from yogurt cheese. I just don't understand how all these raw milk folks are thinking that drained yogurt or kefir is just healthy cream cheese! I agree that it is raw (if you used raw milk to make the kefir/yogurt) and raw is healthier, but, oh well, I'll get down off this box now.

Ahhhh, yes! :) Joshua is especially big on making sure things have the "right" name or description. :) (But even I know that strained kefir is not "sour cream"... even if it tastes similar! ;))

Do you remove the kefir grains before straining it? Once it's strained, I would figure it would be impossible to get your original grains back. I would love to try this but only have a very small amount of grains to begin with and don't want to lose them making just one batch of cheese.

Oh yes, definitely! Take your kefir grains out and start another batch of kefir before using your finished batch -- whether you're drinking it, cooking with it, or making cheese! :)

Do you/can you add flavors to the kefir cheese - such as spices, garlic etc?

Also, what do you do with the kefir whey?

I made kefir cheese once but used it as a sub for ricotta cheese in a lasagna - I think I ended up tossing the whay as I didn't know what to do with it.

Yes! You can add herbs or spices to the kefir cheese. :)

The whey can be used as a buttermilk substitute. Whey is also used for soaking grains. I don't soak my grains, so I haven't used it for that. I'm not sure what I'd do with several quarts of whey each week -- which is probably what I'd end up with if we switched to kefir cheese instead of buying sour cream! ;)

I recently read that whey can be added to chicken's water or chicken feed can be soaked in it for a treat. Or you can put it in a spray bottle and use it on your garden plants.

Add a bit into pet food(dog or cat) great for them and uses some up, we use it in smoothies, baking bread/biscuits/pancakes- to make ricotta with

Hi, check the internet for recipes using Whey for making Ricotta Cheese

I have made yogurt cheese and kefir cheese before. Yogurt cheese was similar in consistency to cream cheese, but my kefir cheese was more..... curd-y. I just wasn't a fan. Maybe I messed it up somewhere along the line though, I'm planning on doing it again soon.

But with the whey I use it to ferment veggies (pickles, carrots, etc.), or if you really can't find a use for it, I add mine to smoothies! Whey has lots of protein and is SO good for you, so I add it to my smoothies for a nutrition boost (as if smoothies weren't nutritious enough already! :D).

I always just drink my whey! I think it is really yummy and so refreshing, but I guess you have to be a sour milk fan for that. It is also great to gargle with, if you have a sore throat. It works really well for me.

I use my whey to soak beans (I use kefir to soak grains right now). I also add 1 tablespoon to my (personal glass not the blender) smoothies to increase protein (I figured it is healthier than the powdered stuff).

Have you tried using longlife milk (UHT)? You can use it to make yoghurt without the heating/cooling part. I have been making yoghurt for years now. I simply use a couple of teaspoons of yoghurt, mix into a litre of UHT whole cream milk, warm for 8 hours and pop in the fridge overnight. Makes lovely thick yoghurt. Other times I have poured it out warm into little pots (the ones I used to use for storing homemade babyfood), and the kids drink it unsweetened as 'drinking yoghurt', or pour it on cereal for breakfast.
Definitely the trick for getting thick yoghurt without draining the whey off is to cool it for several hours with no stirring.

I never thought about what to do with the whey, I always dumped it down the kitchen sink, but I just looked up uses for whey from yogurt and found how to completey use it, twice! Here's the links I found--

for making Ricotta cheese:

and then with the whey leftover from that you can make another cheese that I had never heard of before called Gjetost:

I have never tried either of these, the second one looks a little gross, but it's worth a shot since I have always tossed it anyways. Could be yummy!

I use whey instead of buttermilk in recipes. Great in bread and it makes whole wheat waffles light and fluffy. Lots of protein in it so I don't throw it away.

I was just gifted with some kefir grains - I'm excited to make my first kefir! I'm reading up on kefir, how to make, what else to do with it, found this site, and watched you make kefir cheese. Thank you for your clear instructions!

You are calling what is left behind after you drain your kefir "curds." Are these the SAME as the kefir grains that get left behind when I strain my kefir? Are these the same as the grains that I plan to pass on to someone else when I have more than I need? Are these the SAME as the grains that someone just gave me? (although what I was just given are not thoroughly drained) Can I just eat the grains that I was just given?

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