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 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!
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 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.
Have you made kefir or yogurt cheese? What are your favorite ways to serve it?
Coming tomorrow: Homemade Rosemary Crackers