I made Kefir Cheese! Like....there's cheese in my fridge that tastes good, that I made! :) So fun, right? Here's the recipe.
6 Tablespoons Kefir Starter or 1 packet Kefir Grains/cultures
1 quart milk (unhomogenized works best, a lot of people use raw milk, but I haven't found a provider for that yet)
1 quart container with lid (or some sort of cover - plastic wrap works)
Cheesecloth (or unbleached linen)
1. Heat milk to skin temperature (around 90 degrees)
2. Stir in kefir cultures and pour into quart container
3. Cover and leave on a countertop (do not refrigerate!) for 2-4 days, until the curds are separating from the whey
4. Line strainer with cheesecloth, set strainer in a bowl (so there is space for the whey to drain and collect)
5. Pour the kefir mixture into the cheesecloth (whey will immediately begin to drain off)
6. Wrap cheesecloth tightly around the curds
7. Set strainer, bowl and all in the refrigerator for 1-2 days
8. Unwrap cheese and put in a sealable container.
The kefir cheese will be the consistency of cream cheese and you can use it in any function that you would use cream cheese. We've had it as a cracker spread thus far. I left half of it plain and half of it I mixed with a bunch of herbs (marjoram, oregano, thyme, basil, dill, garlic, salt). You can use it on bagels, for dips, etc.
I ordered by Body Ecology kefir starter cultures online from Amazon.com here. Here are a couple links on the benefits of kefir - here and here. One benefit of using raw milk was pointed out to me by a friend the other day. Raw milk, doesn't spoil - it cultures! SO...when raw milk starts to taste sour or less creamy, that means it's time to use it for other things, like yogurt, butter and cheese. I'm still doing a bit of research on the whole thing, but I think we'll be switching soon, if I can find a place close by where I can by a share.