I 🤍 cheese. A life without cheese is missing something. That's why I find it particularly awesome that you can easily ferment cheese from milk kefir at home!
Cheese without rennet
I like to make cheese quite straightforward from fermented milk kefir, without the addition of animal or vegan rennet.1 To transform milk into milk kefir, you need milk kefir nodules, a culture of special bacteria and yeasts.Ideally, you can have other fermentistas give you a few, get hold of them at a swap meet or culture group. You can also buy them, there are several professional suppliers.
Before you start making cheese, you should already have some experience with fermenting your own milk kefir. I wrote down an instruction and a few tips and tricks for you.
Cream cheese from milk kefir
This cheese is not only easily made and delicious, it is also the base for other homemade cheese specialties. That's why I recommend you start your home cheese-making with this relatively simple cream cheese made from milk kefir.
The cheese will turn out better if you set up the milk kefir batch warmer. This is because temperatures of 20 to 28 °C cause the bacteria to ferment lactic acid, and the higher lactic acid content causes the whey to separate better from the curd. The curds are used to make cheese. The whey is by no means just a by-product, but the second, equally wonderful ferment, and can be used in an extremely wide variety of ways. For example, as a base for lemonade carbonated by fermentation - my favorite use.
To achieve the optimal consistency for further processing into cheese, leave the finished milk kefir to ferment at room temperature for a few more days after you have sieved out the grains. You can observe how the whey clearly settles. This is a good sign that the kefir is ready for further processing.
- 1 liter of creamy, long and warm fermented milk kefir
- Herbs or spices
Water and wring out the muslin cloth, it should be slightly moist, and place in a strainer over a bowl. Then put the kefir in the muslin cloth, tie it in a knot and hang it over the bowl to drain. I by now have a hook on my kitchen cabinet for this, but you can also knot the cloth around a wooden spoon and place it over the bowl to drain.
Salt cream cheese
After 12-16 hours, remove the drained cheese from the cloth and salt to taste. David Asher recommends 2% salt in his book The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, which I think is a good guideline and I pass on this recommendation.
If you like the consistency, you can finish the cheese right away, otherwise hang it up for another 6-8 hours. The salt removes more water from the cheese and makes it firmer.
Then it' s just a matter of deciding whether and how to flavor the cream cheese. For example, depending on the season, I like freshly grated horseradish. Or dill, chives, figs, honey, parsley, olives, capers, hyssop, sorrel, pepper. There are no limits to imagination and taste.
Sometimes just a pinch of salt is just enough.
For a festive table, a sumptuous brunch or the picnic in the countryside, I love to form balls from the cream cheese and roll them in herbs or nuts.
Uses for whey
Please don't just throw away the whey that was in the bowl when you first drained it! You have so many ways to use it. My hit list for the use of whey:
- Homemade probiotic and naturally carbonated lemonade.
- Starter culture for fermented mushrooms kkakdugi kimchi style (adapted from Pascal Bauder).
- chilled as a refreshing thirst quencher after sports
- pureed with fruit as a healthy smoothie
- Tonic for face, neck and cleavage
- Fertilizer for plants, even the lawn loves whey
Stored in a bottle in the refrigerator, it remains active for about 2-3 weeks.
1 By the way, why wouldn't I use the vegan rennet? It is made using an enzyme produced through the use of genetic engineering. There are no long-term studies yet on the effects on humans of vegan rennet.
Hi Katsu, my name is Vivien, can I ask you about the Labneh Korat?.
I am just starting my adventure with kefir grains.
I had no idea you could make cheese out of it too. Can you kindly tell me what you mean by „creamy, long and warm fermented milk kefir“??. I mean, this kefir I get after fermentation is like thin yogurt, how is it possible that I can make cheese from it? I would be very grateful to you for enlightening me on this subject. My best wishes, Vivien
please make sure you use milk that has been processed the least. I know raw milk is illegal in many countries, and also not everybody feels safe to use it, but if you get milk that has been just pasteurized, that would work fine. Whole milk with 3-4% fat also makes a nicer kefir and cheese.
If you let the kefir ferment longer and at a temperature around at least 60°F, but rather 70 – 80°F it will get thicker. To achieve the optimal consistency for further processing into cheese, leave the finished milk kefir to ferment at room temperature for a few more days after you have sieved out the grains.
Have you tried that yet?
Because – even if you don’t add kefir grains – the milk should become thicker and curdle after a few days at room temperature. That’s how my grandmother used to make Dickmilch, a thick, sour milk, traditional to her origins.
Good luck with your cheese making adventure! Let me know how you’re proceeding.