Making Hard Kefir Cheese and Whey | Fast Method Recipe

Making Hard Kefir Cheese is inexpensive and easy. With these tips and tricks, you’ll learn to make homemade natural hard kefir cheese and how to flavor it to your liking.

A woman cutting some hard kefir cheese on a wooden board and a jar of whey on the side.

As a Finn, kefir has entered quite easily into our family diet for it is very similar to buttermilk that is widely used in Finland. Finns actually drank 135 kilos of different kinds of dairy products in 2022, and 7,2 kilos of those was buttermilk (source)! But enough with the statistics. As a fermented sour milk product full of probiotics, kefir is an awesome addition to one’s plate at any time. Truly. The hard kefir cheese is easy to top a bread or pasta portion or even soup or salad to boost the meal. My favorite way is to cut a chunk on top of a slice of Finnish sweet rye bread loaf in the morning or as a snack and sprinkle some crushed almonds or herbs.

This is part two of the kefir cheese-making post series. The soft kefir cheese recipe that resembles cream cheese and is more like a spreadable cheese has already been published, and stay tuned for the kefir cottage cheese recipe.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Making your own cheese is an awesome addition to your homemaker’s life. This recipe is quite easy so it doesn’t need much of your effort to implement in your daily routines.
  • With the plain kefir cheese recipe, you can tweak it in different ways or leave it natural.
  • If you make your own kefir milk you might end up with an abundance of kefir so this is a good way to use that to create something different.
  • Kefir is full of probiotics and good bacteria and it is a good way to boost your gut microbiome by adding it to any portion.
A hand lifts the cheesecloth to reveal the hard kefir cheese.

Tips for making hard kefir cheese

  • Use a strainer and cheesecloth big enough to fit all the milk kefir in to make it a whole lot easier for you.
  • This is the base of the natural hard kefir cheese recipe, you can enjoy it as it is or check how to tweak this recipe to get some ideas of the add-ins to flavor it. Only the sky is the limit!
  • You can use a muslin baby cloth if you don’t have cheesecloth or even a coffee filter if you are doing a smaller batch.
  • When shaping the hard kefir cheese in the mold in the fridge, use a tin can or other heavy objects to press the cheese. And the weight gradually to make the nice form if more pressure is needed.
  • Be alert with the kefir not to overcook the cheese. If you anyhow overdo it, you can always turn it into kefir cottage cheese. Don’t be discouraged, it is always still edible! With a new batch try to cook for a shorter amount of time so that you have still some whey in the cheese when you start molding it. If it has none the result will be a super crumbly cheese.

FAQ

What is kefir?

Milk kefir is a creamy textured fermented milk generally made from cow or other animal milk. It is not as liquid as cow milk and not as heavy as yogurt, so in between. Milk kefir is most commonly made with milk kefir grains or with a powdered kefir starter.

The characteristic of kefir is the tangy flavor due to the fermentation. It can be used as a substitute for yogurt in cooking. It is also a perfect replacement for kefir whey, milk, and buttermilk on many occasions. A tangy twist makes a nice twist to your pancakes, smoothies, waffles, crêpes and more!

In this recipe, we will use milk kefir to turn it into a heavier textured hard milk kefir cheese.

I RELATED: How to make Soft Kefir Cheese and Whey From Milk Kefir

Where does kefir come originally?

Kefir comes originally from the Caucasus Mountains in Eastern Europe in the Balkans (source). Lately, the drink has become quite popular outside Europe and around the world.

What are the kefir health benefits?

The health benefits of kefir cheese depend on the milk used in making the cheese. Several scientific studies see the potential of the probiotic drink and its beneficial effects on one’s health. In the article of the Nutrition Research Reviews of Cambridge University, is mentioned that the regular consumption of kefir seems to have notable health benefits. Kefir has benefits on digestion and tolerance of lactose. Kefir has anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, and healing effects on one’s health too. This is amazing if you think how inexpensive food and how affordable kefir actually is, and how you can easily produce it at home using kefir grains. Just beware not to mix up with the water kefir grains, that you can do water kefir with!

Can you make cheese from store-bought kefir?

Sure! This hard kefir cheese recipe I have made several times using natural shop-bought milk kefir. Just make sure that you are using an unflavoured kefir to have a natural flavor to your cheese. You can of course use your own homemade kefir too. Choose the one that fits best to your daily routines.

How long does kefir cheese last?

The kefir cheese lasts for one to two weeks in the fridge. If the cheese separates the whey in the fridge pour it out to make the cheese last longer. The whey comes as the byproduct of this simple cheese recipe. I suggest you use it within a week. Use it for example in pancake batter, bread dough, or a smoothie instead of milk, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, or water.

Pot full of milk kefir and a tiny glass filled with salt on a wooden surface.

Ingredients you need

  • Milk kefir, you can use homemade milk kefir or store-bought one
  • Sea salt, you can use any other salt too
A hand pressing with a spoon the kefir cheese to its mold on a wooden surface

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Tools you may need

  • Pot (at least 1 litre)
  • Sieve
  • Large bowl, preferably a deep one
  • Cheesecloth or other tight-weave cloth for straining, I used two, one large to strain the cheese and one small when molding.
  • Large spoon
  • A square strainer for forming and a box where you can nest it in the fridge
  • Airtight box or a glass jar to store the cheese

How to make hard kefir cheese and whey

Pour one liter of milk kefir into a stainless steel pot. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on medium to medium-high.

Step one: Heating the milk kefir

You will see in less than 10 minutes that the cheese and whey start to separate. Stir occasionally and keep it simmering but do not let boil. 

Take the pot off the heat when you see the whey is grainy and you see the clear liquid of whey separate. Put the strainer on the deep bowl that is heat-resistant and cover it with a cheesecloth. If yours is quite thin you might want to double the layers of cheesecloth for a better result.

Step two: Straining the milk kefir

Pour the milk kefir through the cheesecloth and strainer. You’ll see the whey drain through into the deep bowl leaving the grainy cheese in the cheesecloth. Gather the cheesecloth in your hand and twist the cloth smoothly to strain the extra whey. You will get a perfect soft consistency of the hard kefir cheese when you have about 5-6 dl strained whey. 

Step three: Flavoring your natural kefir cheese

Season the kefir cheese with salt and if you want to add herbs or other flavours do it now. Avoid big chunks like nuts or grains so that the cheese is easy to cut and doesn’t crumble too much.

Step four: Molding the cheese

Scrape the cheese into the middle of the cloth and enter the cheesecloth with the cheese in the square stainer to mold it. If your cheesecloth is too big or it feels messy, you can change to another cloth to fold it nicely in the molding strainer. Try to keep the folds of the cloth to a minimum, to be sure the cheese doesn’t stay inside the foldings and you can create a nicely formed cheese. 

Press the cheese against the strainer evenly and fold the corners on the top of the kefir cheese to cover it. If you have something a bit heavy to put on, it will help the cheese to take the form. Put the cheese in the fridge for one to twelve hours. This time is for cheese to take the form and press out some extra whey, it will not be much. If you are impatient, you can eat the cheese right away without forming it.

Step five: Unmolding the hard kefir cheese

Take the hard kefir cheese out of the fridge, open carefully the cheesecloth, and lift the cheese from the mold. It should keep its form now. When cutting the cheese has the characteristic curd-like texture of kefir. If you have overcooked the hard kefir cheese and it will not take its form, you can do kefir cottage cheese instead.

How to enjoy and use hard kefir cheese 

  • Use as a topping of sandwiches or a flatbread
  • Add on the top of a quiche or pizza.
  • Top your lasagna with it
  • Cut a chunk of kefir cheese to your soup or pasta

How to store hard kefir cheese

Store the kefir hard cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one or two weeks. Store the whey in a fridge and use it within a week.

Woman cutting hard kefir cheese block on a wooden jar.

How to tweak this recipe 

Here are some herbs and spices to tweak your hard kefir cheese. Just add and mix the flavors before molding and cut the herbs very fine to help the cheese keep its form.

  • Chives or parsley very finely chopped with a bit of olive oil 
  • Finely crushed garlic clove and chopped basil
  • Other chopped fresh herbs
  • Finely chopped dill
  • Honey and sesame seeds
A tiny girl ladling kefir whey from the ceramic bowl into the glass jar with a funnel.

Little Helper

Pouring the whey into a glass jar with the help of a funnel needs a bit of concentration for a tiny chef but it gives a huge joy when you see the whey running from the funnel to the jar.

Seasoning the kefir cheese is also a fun thing to do for a tiny chef. Sprinkling the chives and splashing the olive oil and then stirring it!

Try also to take turns pressing the cheese against the strainer mold – who is the strongest?

What flavor is your favorite?

Let me know in the comments how you tweak your kefir cheese!

A hand lifting grey cheesecloth revealing a hard kefir cheese.

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Woman cutting hard kefir cheese block on a wooden jar.

Hard Kefir Cheese and Whey

Yield: 2,5 dl
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Making Hard Kefir Cheese is inexpensive and easy. With these tips and tricks, you'll learn to make homemade natural hard kefir cheese and how to flavor it to your liking.

Ingredients

  • 1 liter milk kefir
  • a pinch of sea salt

Instructions

How to make hard kefir cheese and whey

Pour one liter of milk kefir into a stainless steel pot. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on medium to medium-high.

  1. Step one: Heating the milk kefir
    You will see in less than 10 minutes that the cheese and whey start to separate. Stir occasionally and keep it simmering but do not let boil. 

    Take the pot off the heat when you see the whey is grainy and you see the clear liquid of whey separate. Put the strainer on the deep bowl that is heat-resistant and cover it with a cheesecloth. If yours is quite thin you might want to double the layers of cheesecloth for a better result.
  2. Step two: Straining the milk kefir
    Pour the milk kefir through the cheesecloth and strainer. You’ll see the whey drain through into the deep bowl leaving the grainy cheese in the cheesecloth. Gather the cheesecloth in your hand and twist the cloth smoothly to strain the extra whey. You will get a perfect soft consistency of the hard kefir cheese when you have about 5-6 dl strained whey. 
  3. Step three: Flavoring your natural kefir cheese
    Season the kefir cheese with salt and if you want to add herbs or other flavours do it now. Avoid big chunks like nuts or grains so that the cheese is easy to cut and doesn’t crumble too much.
  4. Step four: Molding the cheese
    Scrape the cheese into the middle of the cloth and enter the cheesecloth with the cheese in the square stainer to mold it. If your cheesecloth is too big or it feels messy, you can change to another cloth to fold it nicely in the molding strainer. Try to keep the folds of the cloth to a minimum, to be sure the cheese doesn’t stay inside the foldings and you can create a nicely formed cheese. 

    Press the cheese against the strainer evenly and fold the corners on the top of the kefir cheese to cover it. If you have something a bit heavy to put on, it will help the cheese to take the form. Put the cheese in the fridge for one to twelve hours. This time is for cheese to take the form and press out some extra whey, it will not be much. If you are impatient, you can eat the cheese right away without forming it.
  5. Step five: Unmolding the hard kefir cheese
    Take the hard kefir cheese out of the fridge, open carefully the cheesecloth, and lift the cheese from the mold. It should keep its form now. When cutting the cheese has the characteristic curd-like texture of kefir. If you have overcooked the hard kefir cheese and it will not take its form, you can do kefir cottage cheese instead.

How to enjoy and use hard kefir cheese 

  • Use as a topping for sandwiches or a flatbread
  • Add on the top of a quiche or pizza
  • Top your lasagna with it
  • Cut a chunk of kefir cheese to your soup or pasta


How to store hard kefir cheese

Store the kefir hard cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one or two weeks. Store the whey in a fridge and use it within a week.

Notes

  • For ideas on how to flavor the kefir cheese, look for "Tweak this recipe" on the blog post.
  • If you are cooking with a tiny chef scroll up and look for the "Little Helper" info box, to get more ideas on how to involve your child easily in this recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 95Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 425mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 10g

These calculations are generated automatically by Create by Mediavine based on the ingredients shown in the recipe. The nutrition information is an estimation and may include errors. All nutritional information presented and written within this site (blueteatile.com) is intended for informational purposes only. The writer is not a certified nutritionist or registered dietitian and any nutritional information should be used as a general guideline only.

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