Using Kefir to Make Whey and Kefir Cheese

We love using our kefir to make smoothies and popsicles so much that we usually make them every other day...and sometimes everyday.  Even given that, we still sometimes end up accumulating more kefir than we currently need.

Here we had about a gallon of kefir

So what should we do when we're making more kefir than we need...dump it out?  Never.  Bite your tongue.

A great thing to do with extra kefir is to turn it - in one fell swoop - into not one but *two* great cultured/probiotic products.  Multi-tasking at its healthiest.

The two products I'm talking about making from kefir are:

1.  Whey

2.  Kefir Cheese

And here is how you do it...

Start by setting out the container of kefir.  Yes, right on the counter.  This is already a cultured product remember, no worry about it spoiling.  The good bacteria that is already teeming in there keeps any bad pathogens from getting a foothold.

This time, I set out two quart jars of kefir:

I set them near my crockpot of chicken broth that was bubbling and brewing away...just to provide a little extra warmth that would help move things along with the kefir.  It's not necessary to do this, it just helps speed things up a little.  Also right next to the crockpot you can can see the jar of kefir we were currently making, with the coffee filter and rubberband on top.  It is near the crockpot for the very same reason.

After we set the kefir on the counter, what are we waiting for?

We are waiting for it to go from looking like this:

....to looking like this:

In my kitchen, at this temperature, it took my kefir about 24 hours to do this.

The kefir has separated.  The more transparent liquid is whey.  The thicker whiter "solids" are the kefir cheese.

(Note:  You can also make get whey by dripping yogurt in this same manner as kefir.  AND...you can get whey using this same process with raw milk.  You set a container of raw milk on the counter, and just wait until it separates.  I like to do this with kefir, however, because the separation happens much quicker.  With raw milk, it could easily take a week for the separation to occur.  I'm too impatient for that.  Warning:  Do NOT try that with pasteurized, store-bought milk...it will turn rancid and be very harmful if ingested.)

After the kefir is good and separated, get out a few supplies...

-  bowl or measuring cup
-  strainer
-  cheese cloth or clean kitchen towel

Set the strainer in the bowl/cup....

....then lay the cheese cloth/towel in the strainer and pour some kefir in there:

The whey drips right on through...but the kefir cheese stays in the towel:

Well, actually the whey doesn't drain "right on through"...it takes a while.  Hours. When you walk by every so often just keep adding more separated kefir to the strainer as it filters through.  Eventually, all the whey that is going to voluntarily drain through will be done draining through.  Seriously it takes hours...and that is normal and o.k.

Now gather up the towel, and give it a gentle squeeze to release more whey.  Do not squeeze too hard or cheese will start seeping right through the cloth (ask me how I know).  

You end up with beautiful liquid gold whey....and pretty white kefir cheese.  

Both...are so, so good for you. Or your gut, more accurately.  But...since about 80% of your body's immune system is found in your gut, if you do something good for your gut, you're definitely doing something good for you!

Now....what to do with this whey and kefir cheese?

I'll start with the whey.

**  I use whey to add a probiotic kick to our freshly made juice.  (Shhhhh...if my peeps knew that whey was in their juice they would probably say they didn't like it.  As it is, they don't know....and they don't mind!)

**  Some of my fermented food recipes call for adding some whey to the jar, as a kick-starter for the fermentation process.

**  In our pre-GAPS days, I would use whey to "soak" our oats overnight, Nourishing Traditions-style, in order to make them more digestible (and so they didn't rob our bodies of minerals).

**  We've learned since starting GAPS how good it is (taste-wise and gut-wise) to stir some whey right into soup.  Let the soup cool down some first though (so the heat wouldn't kill and inactivate the probiotics)

Jill at The Prairie Homestead has some great information HERE about more great uses for whey.

Now, for the kefir cheese.

I think this tastes remarkably similar to sour cream, and even to cream cheese...and I think it could be used in applications that call for either of those items.

I've eaten this kefir cheese just like I do our sour cream: straight up, with a drizzle of raw honey on top. Heaven.

Another of our favorite things to do with kefir cheese is to use it as a spreadable cheese.

Jas rummages through our spice cabinet and gets out this...and gets out that...

Jas is a much more naturally talented cook than I'll ever be.
Too bad he has to be at the bank all day...we'd eat much better if he were here!

...and makes a divine tasting cheese.

This time he used dill, garlic salt, garlic powder and onion powder.  Totally. Yum.

So, to summarize....

Don't throw out kefir.  

Make whey.

And kefir cheese.

Your gut (and mouth) will thank you.

The end.


  1. You simply amaze me. I read all the things you do and just amazed.

    1. Oh, Sue...I have such good helpers here, that it is not me doing "all the things" by myself, so please do not be amazed! AND, it seems like a good portion of what we do here requires a little hands-on time...and then a LOT of hands-off time, like this kefir that sits for a long time, and then sits for another long time. (This actually makes me crazy, as there is ALWAYS multiple "projects" sitting around on the counters at all times!)

  2. Heather B here...
    I know what is perfect for kefir cheese - stroganoff!!! We had it tonight and I like making it with cream cheese instead of all sour cream, though I do add a walloping dollop of it at the end!

  3. Just found your blog--thanks for all the great ideas! I'm wondering . . . does freezing the milk kefir in popsicles affect the probiotics in it? I'm wanting to make these for my granddaughter. Thanks!

  4. Do you have to refrigerate the whey and cheese or can you keep it in the cubbard? Thanks!

  5. Do you have to refrigerate the whey and cheese or can you keep it in the cubbard? Thanks!

  6. Hello, just discovered your blog. Wow......what a family, the kids are so....cute. Thank you for sharing uses of Kefir whey. I started making kefir a year ago and through postings like this i get to learn a lot. Blessings to you and your cute family from Kenya.



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