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Dom's Kefir Cheese Making

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Main Topics Found on this Page

Congetella a Fresh Mozzarella Type Cheese | Kefir Brine for Congetella | Kefir-Leban a Fresh Sour-Curd Creamy Cheese

Kefir-Straightjacket Dip | Kefir-SourCream + Butter | Kefir Cottage-Style Cheese

Molded Cheese + Mature Kefir Cheeses with Lots of Interesting Cheese Types

Kefir Sourdough Pizza + Kefir Sourdough Bread

Congetta + Her 3 kids | Links to All my Web Pages | Links of Interest | Copyright Notice

This site is best viewed at 1024 x 768 screen resolution or higher, and with a wedge of kefir cheese and a glass of refreshing kefir ready at hand to insite the mind's eye via the palette.


If you have browsed through my other web pages, then good on you!.. you deserve a heavy medal band for your effort. It should be simple enough to conclude how much I enjoy creating new and interesting tantalizers that ring a health-promoting aura-tic bell on the pallet's imagination, with nutritious properties as a side effect dish. Well, this has been my aim since my early teens. I enjoy the journey it takes to create natural wholesome foods from basic essentials. I also enjoy sharing these new found lands so I hope you enjoy my efforts here, and may these celebrate the spirit of the pioneer, which abides within each of us right beside our good will and compassion and understanding.


A Cheesy <Grin-Down>

There are a few basic steps for producing cheese, all which share one thing in common, and that is the coagulation of fresh milk to produce curds and whey, the whey portion if which is separated, leaving the curd or fresh cheese. This is where kefir comes in to play. Kefir may be used in two ways to produce wonderful cheeses of many types--

1. By straining ready-to-drink liquid-kefir through a tightly woven cloth to drain the whey [kefir-whey] from the curd or casein. This produces a condensed fresh sour-curd, a creamy cheese which I've named Kefir-Leban. This variety of sour-curd may be enjoyed fresh, or used as a base for producing many varieties of soft or hard cheeses, semi-matured or matured cheese inclusive. This also includes molded cheese types, such a Blue, Brie and Camembert varieties.

2. Alternatively, kefir may be implemented as a simple coagulant to coagulate fresh warm, or hot milk, and as a substitute for rennet, the common enzyme used to coagulate fresh milk to give a sweet, non acidified curd through draining the coagulated milk to separate the sweet or non acidic whey. This method produces the more traditional or more common varieties of fresh-cheese e.g., a sweet fresh curd cheese similar to cottage cheese and ricotta. From this basic sweet fresh curd, many varieties of cheese may be prepared. I find using kefir in this fashion produces cheese with a fine texture and wonderful mellow flavour, enjoying a long shelf-life.

All the cheese recipes explained here are 100% rennet free all of which are my own creations. So please feel free to feel obliged to feel blessed to have me share them here with you :-) It's only natural to feel this way.

One of the cheeses explained here is a recipe for a fresh cheese-dip; the versatile Kefir-Straightjacket. This is simply a dip that can be used as a spread, a mayonnaise substitute and much more. Kefir-SourCream which can be prepared similar to the Italian variety known as mascarpone, or Russian Smetana. A Kefir Butter is also explained. Also Kefir cottage cheese, a sweet curd similar to ricotta, having a firm, dry, soft granular texture. Later down-under this page, I've included ideas for many varieties of cheeses that can be prepared from kefir. Those familiar to cheese making should find the ideas quite easy to follow. In fact, a novice to cheese making should find the recipes reasonably easy to follow. After all, I am by no means a cheese making expert, and with this being the case, I've been able to create cheeses from kefir, which was probably unthinkable only 10 years ago. Since the hard work has already been initiated, all one has to do is follow the steps explained here on this page.

It was experimentation that brought all the wonders explained here to light, and experimentation is what I try to encourage. So, if you try your hand at any recipe mentioned here and you feel they are a flop, rethink again... for all you've really done is to extend in some direction or another, on the recipe or idea.

No recipe here can really be a flop, unless the product is discarded in the bin or composted. Then again, that's virtually another cheese for the cheese connoisseur with an iron stomach. I'm referring to the potential for a Sardinian specialty maggot cheese, Casu Marzu otherwise known as Formaggio Marcio [rotten cheese]. This is by no means to suggest to eat any cheese with maggot infestation, for not only a special species of fly known as Piophila casei larvae is used to produce such cheese, there have been cases of allergy to the larvae for those who've eaten the traditional cheese. The cheese can also be toxic if dead larvae exist in the cheese. Furthermore, the live larvae are resistant to gastric acid and can pass through the stomach into the intestines, and can cause serious lesions as they attempt to bore through the intestinal walls.


Congetella

Can you smell the aroma of Oregano and Thyme impregnated Congetella?... tips of the fingers to the lips kiss Mwooah!

Due to the difficulty in preparing congetella fresh mozzarella [using rennet], i decided to remove the original recipe here. Instead, above I share a simplified recipe for a non rennet version of congetella. Please click on the photo for enlarge view with the basic recipe.

For those individuals who gave the original recipe their best shot, 10 out of 10 marks for your kind efforts. Recall at will that Blessed are the cheese-makers [newbee's to cheese making inclusive]


Kefir-Leban

The flavour and texture of Kefir-Leban is similar to Kvark [Quark], or, the condensed yogurt-type curd Lebneh of the Middle East. Kefir-Leban is a base from which not only dips such as the Kefir-Straightjacket dip below can be created, but many varieties of cheeses from pure kefir can be made from the fresh sour curd. It can be used in recipes calling for sour cream [as a low fat alternative], cottage cheese, cream cheese, kvark or philadelphia cheese etc. Kefir-Leban makes a superb cheesecake substituting cream cheese or cottage cheese in any cheesecake recipe.

Ingredients and Utensils

Prepares about 350gm or 3/4Lb cream cheese [Kefir-Leban]

dot 4 cups mIlk-kefir [not too sour].
dot White cotton, linen or silk cloth with a tight weave [loose woven material such as cheesecloth is not suitable. Pillow case or handkerchief type material is good].
dot About 60cm [2ft] strong string.
dot 4 to 8-cup wide bowl to collect kefir-whey as it drains from the kefir.

Method

Kefir lebandot Place pre-moistened cloth in a large bowl or strainer or a colander.
dot Pour 4 cups kefir into the cloth.
dot Gather ends of cloth and tie with string to create a bag.
dot Hang bag as shown in picture [left], and then place a suitable container beneath it, to collect the dripping kefir-whey.
dot Let drain for 24 hours. Open up bag and transfer the Kefir-Leban [fresh sour-curd cheese] to a clean bowl. If still too wet and sloppy, fold the kefir-leban in the bowl. Wash the cloth, and then return kefir-leban back to the cloth. Tie cloth and hang to drain for another 24 hours.

Remove the Kefir-Leban and transfer to clean, sealable container.

The Kefir-Leban can be consumed fresh, or refrigerated in a sealed container. Kefir-Leban may also be pressed in a suitable cheese form for 24 to 36 hours, from which a variety of semi-mature or mature cheese can be prepared [See section below for details]. Or follow the next recipe below to prepare the delicious and versatile Kefir-Straightjacket dip.

Draining kefir for kefir-lebanLeft shows another idea for preparing Kefir-Leban. This is by securing the bag containing the kefir onto a wooden spoon with string or elastic rubber bands and then placing the bag over the mouth of a large tall pot, so that the bag hangs a few inches from the bottom of the pot. The pot collects the kefir-whey as it drains from the kefir. After 24 to 36 hours draining, the bag is opened and the Kefir-Leban is transferred to a bowl. You should be left with a beautiful soft fresh cheese as shown on the right.

By the whey, kefir-whey makes a delicious refreshing beverage, so please consider not wheysting kefir-whey or throwing it awhey. It is rich in Methionine and Cystine, the health-promoting sulfur-containing amino acids the latter of which helps to produce the master antioxidant Glutathione in the liver. At the very least, if you have a garden, kefir-whey makes a fantastic high yielding liquid fertilizer for vegetables, herbs, other plants and fruit trees.

Tips for using Kefir-Whey, please see FAQ 18 at my Kefir FAQ web page

Acidity or Sourness of Kefir for Kefir-Leban

It is usually best to begin with a mild kefir, one that is not overly sour for preparing Kefir-Leban for kefir cheese making in general. This produces Kefir-Leban with a mild flavour, from which a variety of semi-mature/mature cheese with a mild flavour are prepared. However, wonderful variations of cheese can also be prepared with an excessively sour kefir. An overly sour kefir may occur if kefir is accumulated and stored in the fridge while adding more kefir regularly to the container. However, preparing Kefir-Leban with an overly sour kefir, and maturing the Kefir-Leban in a sealed container in the fridge for 2 to 3 months, reduces the sourness of the cheese. This is due to the action of yeasts. So even an initial overly sour kefir for preparing Kefir-Leban can be used, for creating aromatic, fruity cheeses quite similar to Parmesan, but in a much shorter time compared to the traditional cheese. So, not all is lost with a very sour kefir, but with time, something is gained.

Kefir-Leban Rounds Kept under Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 kefir cheesesWonderful small [3cm or about 1.5"] rounds of Kefir-Leban fashioned into balls by rolling an amount of Kefir-Leban by hand can be put into glass jars and filling each jar with extra virgin olive oil. The jars are sealed airtight and the rounds of cheese will keep for quite some time, years in fact. In Egypt and the Middle East Lebneh is stored under oil like so, for long term storage.

Recently, I tested two 10 year-old batches. One batch had a flavour of well aged blue cheese-- it had a wonderful, clean strong bite with a very smooth texture. Another batch did not have the blue cheese-like flavour, it was more like the original Kefir-Leban but with a mature flavour. These differences were produced due to the amount of moisture of Kefir-Leban and sourness of the original kefir for preparing the Kefir-Leban. The less sour kefir for preparing Kefir-Leban, the latter of which was partially dry for a few days before putting under oil, was responsible for the blue-cheese flavour. While the more sour kefir that prepared Kefir-Leban which was not dried after shaping, produced the latter milder flavour.

Note, in the photo, the jar [top centre] is Kefir-Leban under EV Olive oil. Some of the Kefir-Leban was fashioned into balls while others are disks, all made by hand. There's also creamy Kefir-Blue cheese [far bottom left] and a mature cheese sealed in beeswax. The labeling is in Italian.

As an end note, my understanding of traditional Lebneh on Egypt or the MIddle East is that the rounds of curd kept under oil is not usually stored for longer than about 12 to possibly 18 months, for the cheese or the storage oil turns rancid. However, it appears if using kefir for preparing Kefir-Leban kept under oil keeps for a much longer time. The oil too appears to keep longer. This may be due to the powerful antioxidant found in kefir, which I believe is not found in the culture milk-product used in the Middle East for making Lebneh. Some believe that Lebneh is drained yogurt. However, my understanding is that the culture milk-product for Lebneh has a yeast component similar to kefir, which is not found in yogurt. I find interest in how if milk is cultured in a fashion which includes yeast, similar to the Middle East product including Koumiss of Mongolia, such culture-milks do not appear to produce such an antioxidant. It appears that only kefir grain-fermented milk [kefir] produces such an antioxidant. Does kefir rule?! or what?!