Pressed Milk Kefir Cheese
If you’ve been around my blog awhile, you know I’m all for experimentation. But –
Kevin is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He has an immediate distrust of new foods. He fears bacteria (this is undoubtedly a reasonable fear). He fears large clumpy cauliflower-esque SCOBYs contained in what logic tells him should be soured milk. Now, if that sentence didn’t scare you off, you may want to try this out!
Milk Kefir is jam-packed with multitudes of probiotic bacteria. It’s somewhat similar to yogurt; but the probiotic content is MUCH higher. Sounds like a great reason to try it! So when I first read about it a few years ago, that is exactly what I did.
The only necessary ingredients are milk kefir grains, milk, and salt, preferably either cheese salt or sea salt.
I was immediately intent on experimenting with this new wonderful flavor! If you haven’t yet tried Milk Kefir, put it on your list!! The ‘grains’ only take a few hours to convert regular milk into an intriguing milk product. The flavor and probiotic content develop over time, ranging from a mildly tangy yogurt-y drink to a sour and thick milkshake-texture. And your body will thank you! Gut health affects overall health, and extra probiotic intake helps balance gut flora.
Straining milk kefir through a few layers of cheesecloth separates the curd from the whey, leaving you with an amazing impersonation of cream cheese.
I did this in several batches, freezing each batch of curds until I had enough for a pressed cheese. You could also freeze the kefir and strain after thawing.
Once the Milk Kefir has been strained, it can be made into a pressed cheese; without using heat or rennet. They whey can be drank as is, or added to breads and soups.
I added cheese salt, black pepper and red chili flakes to my kefir “cream cheese”, but there is tons of space for experimenting here!!
In an ideal world I’d use a proper cheese mold, follower, and cheese press. But this is not an ideal world – I was forced to improvise!
After a little trial and error, I used 2 small margarine containers to create a mold. In one container I cut slits and drilled holes on the sides and bottom respectively. With the second container, I removed the bottom to be used as a sleeve to support the first container (I discovered the need for this after the picture was taken:)). The bottom of that container acted as a follower.
For weights I used some big heavy books (approx. 15 pds.) and a 20 pd. bag of flour (approx. total 35 lbs.).
Everything was placed on a wire rack over a baking pan to let the whey drain. I also used 2 lids along the sides to prevent anything from slipping under the weight.
It worked great.:)
The ‘cream cheese’ was scooped into the cheese mold (lined with dampened and well-wrung cheesecloth). Then the cloth was folded to cover the top and a follower topped it off. The cheese was gently pressed using 15 pds. weight for 30 minutes. Then the curd was flipped and pressed another 30 minutes.
After the initial hour, the cheesecloth was rinsed and wrung out before I placed it back in the mold.
The cheese was flipped and pressed using 35 pds weight for 24 hours.
(So hard to wait!!)
After 24 hours, I deconstructed the leaning tower of cheese squashery.
I combined a small amount of vinegar, water, and cheese salt, and using a clean cheesecloth I rubbed the mixture over the entire surface of the cheese making sure to get any little divots. The cheese stayed in a cool room another 24 hours on parchment paper on top of a wire rack.
I then buffed the entire surface with clover honey and let it sit 2 – 3 hours longer to absorb any stickiness from the honey.
I debated vacuum sealing and aging it, but I don’t think I could stand the waiting and I decided I’d rather eat it! As it turned out, Kevin was impressed enough to eat some too! I finally found a way to get him to try milk kefir…and he likes it!
Because it was never heated, it retains all those friendly bacteria (probiotics).
The pressed kefir cheese tastes great. The flavor could be drastically different depending on how long the original milk kefir is aged, the spices added, or if it was flavored with a secondary ferment. I made this batch fairly mild with a nice tang; and the chili flakes added a spicy kick.
It shreds and slices beautifully!!
I’ll make a bigger batch next time as we really enjoyed this easy-to-make cheese! Also, you get to claim bragging rights on a pressed cheese.:D
Have you ever made pressed cheese? What kind(s) have you made?
posted by Chris on May 3, 2015
I love milk kefir! I have made the cream cheese, just letting it drain through a coffee filter, thought it was pretty good sub for cream cheese. Hadn’t thought I could actually freeze it to get enough to make a pressed cheese!
It looks from the pics that it isn’t a smooth cheese? Other than the spices you added does the taste chang much from just the strained kefir cream cheese? how long and at what temp do you let it site prior to draining – ie tart, or mild? is there a type of cheese it tastes similar to? lol so many questions! This is handy timing as I just got water kefir grains again, so that is more my preference in summer, and this will provide a use for the milk kefir to keep on going. I love this stuff, it’s so changeable with temp, volume of milk, time. Were you able to get cheese salt locally?
posted by Chris on May 3, 2015
I was mistaking cheese salt for some of the other mystery ingredients in making cheese :) So, hmmmm I could sure do this! It just never seemed worth it to try and get the blob big enough to make a big enough batch to do anything with, that’s where the freezing will come in!
posted by YogurtHydro on May 3, 2015
Whoa. One at a time LOL. The pressed cheese will be mild, tangy, or sour depending how long you do your second ferment before freezing it, just like when making the kefir. I love that idea because you can drastically change the finished cheese so easily. I did short second ferments, so mine was mild…very much like the ‘cream cheese’ flavor.:) The chili flakes really gave it a kick though!
Again, with the texture it was actually pretty smooth with this method, but could be altered to suit. When I’ve made other cheeses, the general idea is the more you stir while the curds are separating, the more whey will be released. The result from more stirring is a drier, more crumbly cheese. I’ll have to experiment with that to tell you an exact method, but you may get a crumbly cheese by a straining the milk kefir for a longer period and agitating it occasionally.
I left it at room temperature throughout the process, but my kitchen is a bit on the cool end of room temp. Probably 68 – 70 degrees. Depending on the size of your batches of milk kefir, you could strain it anywhere from 12 – 24 hours.
It is a very nice cheese, you’ll love it, it’s definitely worth doing! I think I got all your questions, lol. Let me know how it goes!:)
posted by Debi @ Surroundings by Debi on May 3, 2015
This is amazing. I have never seen this before. I found it very interesting! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop!
posted by YogurtHydro on July 24, 2015
Thank you Debi!
posted by Ann E Vidrine on August 24, 2019
Hi, I don’t think my cheese is forming a rind…I buffed it with salt, vinegar and water…it’s been 13 hours…should I buff again? Thank you!
posted by YogurtHydro on September 16, 2019
Ann – I’m sure I’m far too late answering you, I don’t know why but I never get notifications from wordpress anymore, sorry about that!! For future reference, unless there is mold you’d like to remove or something you are working into the cheese, you do not need to buff the cheese. The rind will form over a few days or more depending on the size of your cheese.
posted by Mai Tran on May 11, 2015
A very creative instruction! I love cheese so I should try this out to eat with bread. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Denise Low on May 17, 2015
I have never heard of this one. But I would love to try it.
posted by ranadurham on June 21, 2015
never had kefir cheese but it looks so amazing :)
posted by YogurtHydro on June 21, 2015
Thank you! I am investing in some proper cheese molds to start making it regularly. We really enjoyed it, and it’s so easy to make.:)
posted by debbie on July 19, 2015
Thank you this was informative and interesting Im going to give it a go
posted by YogurtHydro on July 24, 2015
Awesome.:) Let me know how it goes!
posted by Mark Warren on December 6, 2015
looks delicious! i have to try it!
posted by clojo9372 on February 24, 2016
I never had kefir cheese before. I know the importance of probiotic bacteria. I know I should add more to my diet.. Thanks a lot!
posted by krysprincess on February 25, 2016
never heard of kefir cheese but it sounds interesting
posted by Julia Jarvis on September 27, 2016
Brilliant way to use extra kefir! Do you make the cheese from kefir that has already been through its second fermentation? Or just the first? (:
posted by YogurtHydro on October 2, 2016
I used a single fermentation, but there is so much room for experimenting! Using a secondary fermentation you could create some very unique cheeses.
posted by choling89 on October 8, 2016
Great post! With the ageing process, you mentioned vacuum sealing it. How long does the ageing process normally take and do you leave it in the fridge?
I’ve thought of doing larger batches but would like to try changing the flavour with ageing.
posted by YogurtHydro on January 5, 2017
I didn’t get a notification about your comment, sorry for the late reply.
I have yet to attempt aging this cheese, but my plan was to vacuum seal and age in the fridge (as I don’t have a cheese fridge) for somewhere around 2 weeks.
This is something I would love to experiment with this year and of course, I’ll post all my results! I’d love to hear your results if you try it!!
posted by Sharon on December 19, 2017
How long can we store this kefir Cheese.