How to Make Kefir Cheese and Whey

 

kefir-cheese

One of the things I hope to accomplish with this blog is to make it easy and commonplace to have cultured foods as part of your everyday life. Let’s face it – if it is too hard or complicated most people are not going to do it. So if I can teach you a few things to make life easier, hopefully you will start making and enjoying these life-giving foods.

Whey and cheese

Making kefir whey and cheese is something I do many times a week. It doesn’t take long and the whey will culture a multitude of foods. Kefir has so many probiotics, at least 30, and that does not even account for the good yeast that you get too. So grab your kefir, a bowl, and a coffee filter and we are ready to begin. Easy, I promise.

I’ll make you feed on berries and on roots, and feed on curds and whey, and suck the goat, and cabin in a cave, and bring you up to be a warrior, and command a camp.”

~ William Shakespeare

 

Kefir Cheese & Whey
This does not work the same for store-bought kefir. It never really thickens right and remains runny. Homemade kefir is the way to go if you are making kefir cheese. You also get the added benefits of large colonies of beneficial bacteria that is in homemade versus commercial brands.~Donna
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Ingredients
Servings: cup
Units:
Instructions
  1. Place a basket style coffee filter in a strainer and place the strainer in a bowl.
  2. Pour prepared kefir into the coffee strainer. The bowl will catch the whey which is the liquid that will drop through the filter.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  4. The next day you will have a beautiful lump of kefir cheese in the filter.
  5. Remove the cheese from the strainer. You can use the cheese immediately or place it in an airtight container in the fridge.
  6. Save the whey that has dripped into the bowl. You can make fermented drinks or cultured vegetables. Just place the whey in a glass jar in the fridge.
Recipe Notes

I normally get about 1 cup of whey and 1 cup of kefir cheese out of 2 cups of kefir.

CulturedFoodLife.com
221 Responses to "How to Make Kefir Cheese and Whey"
  1. If using almond milk to make kefir, which variety should you use. My grocery store has different kinds.

  2. I am wanting to make kefir and kefir cheese on a larger scale. What tools and strainers would you recommend. Thank you.

  3. So I just used my extra kefir for kefir cheese.
    I made a wonderful sun dried tomato, red onion, herb dip, w/a bit of cultured veggies in it!
    Also a kefir cheese frozen dessert; kefir cheese, fresh coconut plus coconut oil, honey, 1 1/2 bananas blended in the bullet blender. Poured into little freezer cups!
    Both so yummy!
    I start each day with a kefir pudding, kefir, chia seeds, ground flax, oats and mixed berries added after strained. Let set on counter 1/2 day, the refrigerated overnight. In the morning I add a 1/2 scoop protein powder and 1/2 serving sugar free orange fiber and a banana. It contains all my body needs.

  4. This may have been asked but I didn’t read through all the comments. What do you cover it with before putting in the fridge? Just suran wrap? I wanted to try it today/tonight but am not sure what to cover the coffee filter and strainer with while they are in the refrigerator. Thanks!

  5. Is it possible to start a new batch of milk kefir by adding whey to it instead of kefir grains?

  6. Hi Donna,… can the whey be kept “active” by feeding much like a sourdough starter? I like to use my whey as a natural preservative for things such as a large pot of redbeans (I’m the only one around here that eats these so I make in large quantity to keep on hand and eat as the mood strikes) Have a small freezer so I generally have room in the fridge. Your thoughts or results?..

      • looks like we’re both in uncharted waters…. I’ll do a bit of experimentation and update you as I have answers… thanks… I do have quite a story though when it comes to reviving “dead” grains that so many have concerns about : )

  7. Hi Donna, how long will the kefir whey and cheese last in the refrigerator?

    Thanks,
    Amy

  8. Thank you for your knowledge! The Lord has bless you for sure.
    My Whey sat in refrigerator for a day then I made Kefir soda, is that fresh enough to make the soda?
    How long does the kefir and whey last in refrigerator?
    I am so excited to make this for my grand babies.
    Also I brought some raw milk, will my kefir be watery when I use this kind of milk.
    I am so excited about better health for me and my grand babies.
    Thanks

      • Thank you for your help.
        How long do I let the raw milk kefir sit so it will be thick? I brought the live cultures and when I changed to raw milk which is kinda hard to get the kefir is still thin after 24 hours. With regular milk i let it sit for 24 hours but my raw is not coming out thick after 24 hours.

  9. I have been successful in making this yummy kefir and kefir cheese and now I have tons of cheese. My question is can u freeze the cheese without harming the nutrients in it?

  10. Hello! I’ve just stumbled upon your blog. Thanks for such great information! I’m new to making kefir. I’m using grains from Cultures for Health. I’ve successfully made kefir using cow’s milk, and whey from that kefir as well. As I’m continuing to make kefir, I’m just not sure I’m doing it the best way. When it’s done, the only way I could think of for retrieving the grains is to strain the kefir and what’s left are the grains. Is this correct? Or should I just be scooping out a bit of the culture like in yogurt or kombucha? Also, my strainer is stainless and the instructions suggest not ever using metal for any of the process. Your thoughts are appreciated! Thank you!

  11. Hi Donna,
    I tried to make kefir cheese, but the mixture in the coffee filter remained just liquid. What am I doing wrong?

  12. I accidently used sour milk (the last of the milk from the one jug even though it was still dated OK) and some from a new jug, not realizing that the last of the first jug had soured. Now my kefir tastes like sour milk. I strained the grains and put them in fresh milk the next day however the kefir still tastes like sour milk. Are my grains still good…will washing them in water help? Help…

    • Don’t wash them with water because it can kill them but make a couple batches of kefir and see if they recover which I think they will. You can try washing them with milk and see if that helps too.

  13. Hi Donna,

    Great interview on HHR this week! 🙂 I am using the Yogourmet starter powder for my Kefir, but it always remains quite runny – is that because I am not using the grains? I culture it for 24 hours on the counter-top in a masor jar with a metal lid. Also, is it ok to use this runny Kefir to make Kefir cheese or will I likely not get enough cheese out of my batch please?

    Thanks much,

    Karen

    • I have never liked the Yogourmet kefir powder. It doesn’t seem to do as well as the body ecology one and I don’t recommend it. Yes you can make kefir cheese with runny kefir but not store bough kefir. This never t\seems to turn into kefir cheese. Homemead is best.

  14. Hi Donna, have been making kefir for some time now and on occasion have not kept it up so grains have been sitting in same milk for about a week or more. Will this harm them?
    Also, wonder if I need to do something special to wake them up after being in the same milk for so long.
    One final question. Coconut water kefir. Can I use the same grains I use for milk kefir in coconut water from fresh young coconuts, and is the process the same?
    Thanks for a really great site. David

  15. Hi Donna, If I use yeasty or sour kefir, will the cheese also retain that yeasty/sour taste? Or does it get milder after the strain? I’m trying to figure out ways to use my first kefir brew (it tastes so yeasty!)

  16. Question: My husband has to take antibiotics for an infection. I am narked. I mean, all these weeks drinking kefir and now he has to take antibiotics! Anyway, do I continue with kefir through the course of antibiotics or wait until he is done?? This is so annoying!

    • Yes keep taaking it but take the medication at a different time than you do the antibiotic. It will be ok you can repopulate the gut with good bacteria. Hope he is better soon.

  17. I’m wondering, once I make cheese kefir, how long will it last in the fridge? FYI – using raw cows milk. Also, how long does regular kefir last in the fridge?

  18. I don’t make Kefir yet, but have managed to get some whey for a fermented veg recipe. Can I just keep a bit of the liquid from that veg to make a new batch when I run out? And how long can the liquid be kept for if that is ok?

    Thanks

  19. donna,having received kefir grains from a friend I am getting great enjoyment making kefir milk/yogurt ,I am now attempting to make kefir cheese thanks to your blog,since I have received the kefir grains I havve given it to at least nine people,it is a great feeling to spread something to other people which is can enrich peoples health,I enjoy getting feedback from my friends about the benefits of kefir milk,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,keep up the good work Brendan

  20. For the past three days I have tried to make milk kefir. Have had curds and whey every time. The last time I had curds and whey overnight in less than 8 hours. I have new grains, just reconstituted them this week. I saved the whey and do not know if the clump I saved in new milk are grains or cottage cheese. I put this in the fridg also
    If I try this the fourth time, shoud I be more successful? Was wondering why this takes such a short time, as my kitchen is not too warm. I read all your answers, but haven’t come up with a good solution. Thanks for your help.

    • Start by adding more milk. This is
      A rehydrating period and they are
      Still waking up. Add more milk and this
      Should help. Try putting them through a
      strainer and pouring milk or whey
      over them to separate them.

      • A friend had this problem. I went over and manually fingered through that curd. The grains are rubbery but the whey just mushes if you finger it. I got out all the rubbery bits and he is up and running with perfect kefir now. And that is what I found – if it is separated after 24 hours, add more milk next time. After a couple times taking a stab at it, you get the ratio right. I am second fermenting my first for now – LOVE THIS STUFF!

  21. I am so excited to have been given some milk kefir grains from my SIL from Mexico, which is years old!
    2 weeks ago I started making kefir, and I love the flavor of it, plus, the health benefits I’m noticing are exciting! My grains have tripled in volume in 2 weeks!
    The other day, I separated my grains so that I could try using raw goat milk, without risking my whole stash of grains. It is even better than with cow milk (not surprised).
    My jar of cow milk kefir has been separating into curds and whey, which I’m thinking means I need to add more milk, or shorten the fermenting time. No problem with that.
    You wonderful site has helped me tremendously, and I’ve been culturing veggies (I’ve tried beets, sauerkraut (both red and green (red is my favorite), green beans and asparagus (yum!). I’m going to try rhubarb next, I found a recipe using frozen rhubarb that is cooked and adding a small amount of sugar and some fresh strawberries for their enzymes.
    To this point I have not used whey in my veggies, I haven’t had any, but I’m eager to try it, so that I can cut back on the amount of salt I’m using.
    So, my question is how long will the kefir whey stay viable in the fridge?
    Also, if my kefir keeps separating during its first ferment, will it harm the grains?
    I just noticed that yesterday’s batch of cow kefir has separated again, though I added quite a bit more milk. The raw goat kefir has not separated.
    I DO have a jar of asparagus culturing on the counter about 5 feet away from the kefir, which is on top if the fridge… How would I know If that is interfering with the kefir?
    Sorry for all the questions.
    And thanks for sharing your amazing story, recipes and thoughts!

    • If you are going to use kefir whey to make cultured vegetables you need to use fresh strained kefir whey within a day or two of straining it from your kefir. The good bacteria starts to run out of foods when separated from the kefir.

      It does not harm your grains when the whey separates but it does mean that it is done and time to give it a new batch of milk to culture.

      If you have lids on all your ferments there is no problem with contamination. You’re doing great!

      • Okay! I’ll make sure to use only fresh whey to ferment my foods.
        By the way, I discovered that the milk I was using for the kefir had gotten too old, that’s why it was separating so soon. A good lesson.
        Thanks so much!

  22. Hi Donna,
    Thanks for all your work, creativity and for all the advice your give so freely to all!
    When your book is published — I want to give to myself and as a gift to others.
    Craig

  23. I wanted to leave a reply here for everyone to see! I have had so many questions about kefir, and Donna has been so sweet, and answered every one! I recently made kefir cheese for the first time, and used it in Donna’s kefir chai parfiat recipe (which I also tried for the first time!) And let me say it was super delicious! I’m so excited about these 2 new recipes! My next venture will be the kefir cheese onion dip- I have the kefir cheese ready in the fridge:) Thank you Donna for your endless kindness, and yummy recipes:)

  24. Hi Donna, I love your website, thank you for your amazing ideas. I also love experimenting around and several months ago I made a ginger soda from my kefir whey and fresh ginger. I left a small amount in the back of my frig and forgot about it. Now I have what looks like a “mother” or scoby at the top of the soda……What did I create? Is this something like a kombucha mushroom? Should I toss it or is it something to use to make kombucha out of?
    I would also like to share my latest soda, (I have three grapefruit trees) half a quart of fresh grapefruit juice, 2 Tlbs kefir whey, 1 tsp Braggs vinegar, 1 tsp salt and filtered water, fill the quart jar with filtered water, place lid on nice and tight and let sit on counter for 2 days. I used to use 2 tsp. of salt but this is better with the vinegar. This drink is so refreshing that friends ask for it frequently.

    • They is just a process of fermentation and most likely from the ginger. It is fine and don’t pitch it. It is still wonderful and healthy for you just a little more fermented. You did good!

  25. Donna, thank you for your many informative posts. A couple of questions:
    1) I’ve made my own ricotta like cheese by heating the milk and adding lemon juice, allowing it to curdle and straining out the whey. Can this whey be used in a similar way as kefir whey?
    2) Can kefir cheese be used in a similar way in lasagna as ricotta?
    3) How do you come up with so many unique ways to ferment vegetables?
    Just a note: Haven’t seen a post on beet kvass. I’ve started making this and drinking it on a regular basis. I’ve found that by consuming regularly I no longer have any problems with anemia. (I also add kefir grains to the jar to give it that added probiotic boost.)

    • 1.I have not used kefir whey to make ricotta because I know you have to heat it on high heat and kill the bacteria. But I would like to know if it works.

      2.Kefir cheese can be used in lasagna as can my kefir cottage cheese recipe in my book.

      3.Its just fun for me to come up with these recipes. I am actually working on a beet kvass recipe now.

  26. My head is spinning from all the comments! Uugh! So..here I go..
    I have been making Kefir from grains for months now. I started the 2nd fermentation with vanilla beans and dates. Can I just saw,,,WOW! Amazing! B-U-T..here’s some issues, questions. My DH was making my kefir for me for a few days while I was traveling last week. I came home to a refrigerator full of about 3 gallons of kefir. I took this out and threw in the vanilla/dates, put the canning jar lids on tight and put in the kitchen cabinet to ferment. As life would have it..I ended up in the hospital for a few days (emergency) and my kefir sat 2nd fermenting with the fruit for over 48 hrs. When I returned home it had seeped out of the top of the jars and separated in a big way. Sigh! I wasn’t giving up, so I strained out the fruit and then poured everything a thin cloth bag that I suspended over a bowl to catch the whey. The whey is bright yellow (I think from the dates and vanilla). I have almost two gallons of this now. Is it still good? Should it be fizzy? (It’s not). I now have myself kefir cheese that is infused with dates/vanilla but I really want to make something out of this whey so it isn’t wasted. Am I out of luck? Donna, any recipes or inspiration/advice would be appreciated.

      • Well, after straining the whey for almost 18 hrs, the end product was a very crumbly, dry cheese. Did I let is strain too long? Also, when you say that you should use the whey “right away”, does that mean as soon as you strain the kefir off the grains on the first ferment? I strained the vanilla/date infused kefir after the 2nd ferment. Does that mean I shouldn’t use the whey? Is the whey supposed to taste effervescent? If the whey is still good, what would you make out of vanilla/date whey?

        • If it is dry and crumbly then you can strain it less and it is more like cream cheese.
          I would use the whey after you make cheese within a day or two to make other foods.
          You can use the vanilla date strained whey it works great.
          The whey isn’t effervescent.

  27. I just tried straining whey With cheesecloth and was quite over zealous with the folding/layering so it was very, very thick. I ended up being impatient and squeezed the cheesecloth after it seemed to stop dripping because it looked like there was still a lot of whey in the cheesecloth. Now the whey is cloudy and I am wondering if it is ok to use the cloudy whey for vegetable fermenting. I tried pouring the cloudy whey back through the cheesecloth, but it is still cloudy.

  28. I have an auto immune disorder. For starters, I’ve gone off all dairy, sugar and grain. It has helped a great deal. How do I know if kefir is good for me and doesn’t aggravate my problems. How do I know if i should introduce it back into my diet, if/when is it the right time? Thank you for your great blog!

  29. Hi Donna I did the beet kvass , but without the whey because I did not have it available in that moment , today the third day on my fermented juice , but no way I can drink it , it taste like salty water only , can you tell me what was wrong here please, thanks maggie

  30. My body doesn’t tolerate milk or coconut milk so I’m wondering if there is any other liquid i could culture using the kefir starter. Almond milk? Hazelnut milk? Thanks much.

    by the way, is there a way to culture nut milks or nut butters to make something like nut cheese? Thanks much!!

    • Yes, you can use almond milk to make kefir. You will have to use kefir grains and once a week will need to refresh them in regular milk to stay alive. They eat the lactose out of milk and this is how they multiple and grow and without it they can not survive. I will have to experimet with nut butters but I am sure you can. I will get back to you on this one. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • When I used to make raw milk kefir (cow’s milk) and give it to the neighbors they were surprised. They couldn’t eat other milk products…but could eat my kefir creations. Have you tried?

  31. Thanks Donna for your wealth of information and sharing your knowledge.
    I have just Discovered kefir water and milk grains a week and half ago. Sadly I have some URInfecion which I Have been prescribed antibiotics as ben going on for too long Arghhhh!!!!
    Hopefully I shall be well enough soon, to Try my hand at the veggies.
    Regards

  32. So, what do you do with the extra grains? I have made kefir in the past and there were SO many grains that I didn’t know what to do with all of them. We do not use enough kefir to have a place for all of them… I would like to know how to use them in a way that they are not going to waste. I see know that the reason that I was getting such a bitter taste to my kefir was because I had to much of the grain for the amount of milk I was using.

    • I have so many people who need them that I never seem to have enough. If you have chicken they love them and also you can always grind them up in a smoothie in the blender.

  33. I have been making kefir for a few months now and i love it. I would like to know how to use the whey for culturing veggies?

    • You just add the whey to the cultured veggies anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup depending on how much you are making. It tells you in the recipes how much to use on my site.

  34. Love it! I didn’t realize you could do this!! I’m liking Kefir so much better than yogurt, and I was thinking I was going to have to make some yogurt just to get more whey for my veggies, but it makes me so happy to learn I can just do this instead!!! Thanks!

  35. I’ve always used a cheese making bag made of unbleached cotton to make my kefir cheese. I believe I’ll try your method because it looks so much easier. Thanks for this idea!

  36. I have just started making kefir. I seem to get to the cheese part right away, it is very thick. not sur e if I am doing this correctly or not haha. I was thinking I would get a thinner product.

    • You can add more milk to your kefir grains if it fermenting fast. This will make for a thinner kefir.

      • I’ve had the same issue… before 24hrs I have what seems like kefir cheese separating from the whey. If I let it go for 36-48hrs, the Kefir cheese really firms up. Since it goes to this state so quickly, I’ve been making a lot of kefir cheese this way. I actually like the somewhat sour taste. 1. is it unhealthy to eat the kefir after 48hrs of sitting on the counter? 2. I have bottled the whey and have had so much of it – I was thrilled to read About your chocolate soda! Deliciuos. My whey has lost its carbonation. Is it still good to use for making fermented garlic, veggies, and just flavoring and drinking? 3. when you say to add more milk do you mean that once we see the separating starting (usually within 12hrs), that we add more cold milk and stir and it’ll go to the normal Kefir? I would love to have some normal liquid kefir – it’s been so hot that I figured that was why the faster separating… Love your Site & Information Sharing! Thank you so much.

        • No it is fine to eat it at 48 hours, just more sour. It is best to use fresh whey because it will culture better and have more good bacteria. You have to use fresh wehy to make kefir soda wont work without it.
          If it is separating the kefir is done and you can place it in the fridge even if it has been 12 hours. But the next time when you make kefir add more milk so it won’t culture so fast.

    • It is important not to let the kefir grains multiply too much. I find in warm weather I have to remove some of the grains every few days or my kefir gets too strong. don’t be afraid to remove some grains, it is kinda like getting your hair cut, it will grow back.

  37. Question! If you drain your whey and use the rest as cheese, how do you continue to make more kefir? I use kefir grains so I want to keep reusing it. Maybe I’m not understanding the process correctly.

    • When you make kefir you remove the kefir grains from the finished product. Then you add the kefir grains to fresh milk. You can use the finished kefir to make cheese and whey. So simply, place kefir grains in milk let them sit in the milk for 24 hours and then remove the grains and add them to fresh milk. The milk that you removed the kefir grains from is your finished kefir. Does that help?

  38. I have those strainers and I am pretty sure they are stainless steel and that is fine for fermenting. You wouldn’t want to use non-stainless steel for fermentation. Regular steel has a flatter look and sometimes produces a bit of rust.

  39. Hi,

    Are you concerned using a metal strainer when draining the whey?

    there are some folks / sites that claim that the metal in the strainer destroys the ‘life’ in the whey. Do you agree?

    Thanks,
    T

    • I have a plastic strainer that you can find on my the right hand column under things I use, that is plastic and is made for making kefir cheese. I have used metal too and have not noticed a difference in the effectiveness of kefir.