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Thread: Kefir cheese and wholemeal bread

  1. #1
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    Kefir cheese and wholemeal bread

    For less than £1 (I live in the UK), I make scrumptious, healthy, soft cheese (4 servings) and a really really yummy wholemeal bread. Here's the recipe for anyone interested:

    (kefir grains are a simbiotic yest/bacteria organism that helps culture milk and that kefire owner will happily share with others for free, it lasts and grows forever if you treat it well)

    Kefir and Kefir Cheese

    First, you need to make kefir from milk; this is quite simple, place your kefir grains in milk and leave it to work its magic for up to 24 hours. You will find that the milk thickens up into a creamy yogurt drink consistency. I use approximately 12 grams of grains for one pint of milk, and in winter, it takes about 18 hours to get to the right consistency. You can drink it at this point, it is great in smoothies or on its own, full of pro-biotics and goodness… If you make too much, save the leftovers and proceed to make the 'cheese'.

    Once you've cultured enough milk, strain it through a cheesecloth for about 12 hours (keep the strained whey for your bread). Empty the solids from the cloth into a bowl (you can eat at this stage also, mixed with honey and cinnamon, or fruits….); the inside will be a little softer, put a little salt, mix well, and place in another cheese cloth, in a form to shape it, and place a weight on top. You can place in the fridge or leave outside if your kitchen is not too hot. Strain in the form for a few hours, I leave my overnight in the fridge, and next day, you have a lovely, spreadable quark-like cheese, but full of the probiotics you'd have paid a lot of money for by buying 'designer' yogurts!

    Wholemeal Bread

    450g wholemeal flour
    2 tbsp honey
    2 tbsp sunflower oil
    1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
    1 ½ dried yeast
    225 ml kefir whey

    Mix the flour and salt first, then add the dried yeast and mix, pour in the whey, honey and sunflower and knead, until you feel the yeast starts to work on the flour and you get a springy elastic dough. Leave to prove for 1 hour / 1 h 30. Knock back and knead again for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with a little flour, wrap loosely in a clean cloth and place in the fridge, leaving to prove overnight.

    Next morning, take the dough out, knead (it is going to be VERY hard at the beginning, as the dough is cold, but think of it as saving on a gym workout!) You will know the dough is ready when it feels elastic, warm-ish in your hands, and smells wonderful. Leave to prove in a loaf tin if you use one, or on a baking sheet, covered with the cloth, to avoid drying out - I leave mine to prove in an old cast iron pot.

    When it has doubled in size, make a few cuts on the top, brush with either milk, or beaten egg, or simply salted water (each of these will give a different colour / type of crust) and place in very hot oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat (my oven highest setting is 7, so I lower to 5) and leave to bake for another 25 to 40 minutes, depending on your oven.

    Enjoy!!! For under one pound, you have 4 servings of cheese, and enough bread for a week (if you can resist!) for under £0.50








  2. #2
    Senior Member Gardenarian's Avatar
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    That looks tasty!
    Can you explain kefir grains to me? What kind of grains - how does that work?

    Quite a few of the homeless where I live keep a goat or two with them, and live off the kefir and grains. Maybe that's an "only in Ashland" thing. (I live in Oregon, USA)

    I don't care for kefir as a beverage, but that cheese you made (and the bread) look delicious! (Lovely photos, too.)
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -- Gandalf

  3. #3
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    Thanks, Gardenarian, I could not find a way of making the photos smaller, they are a bit 'in your face'....

    Sounds like the homeless in your neck of the woods have the right idea!

    I am not a specialist but I'll try and explain about kefir and kefir grains:

    Kefir (and kefir grains) have been known in the east (Caucasus) for centuries; apparently, nomads would cary milk in pouches made of the skin of animals and add the kefir grains to culture it. It has the advantage of preventing fresh milk from spoiling with that unpleasant taste (if you've ever left the milk out of the fridge overnight and made your coffee in the morning without thinking, you'll know what I mean!) Nobody quites knows how the original 'grains' formed, so there are a lot of legends and fantastic stories about them: they would have been given to ancient people by gods who said they should never be sold, only shared - I don't know how much of that it true, but I do like a good old legend...

    As far as the scientific explanation, I believe the 'grains' are a symbiotic mixture of lactic acid bacteria (similar to those that develop when you lacto-ferment vegetables) and yeasts. They 'coagulate' to form little round tansluscent-white grain-like growths which stick together and look a little like a cauliflower floret. As you feed them, they multiply and this is why you can give some away from time to time.

    As far as the 'process', it is very simple, you place some of the culture that you get from whoever into a glass of milk, leave it to work its magic, when the milk is cultured, you strain the culture out, put it into another container with fresh milk etc... you don't need to wash the grains nor do anything else than changing the milk when it is ready. If you go away for a while, just put the grain in more milk and keep in fridge, it slows down the fermentation time.

    The advantage of kefir grains is that they really can last forever, with a little feed of milk! They also have the advantage, when making cheese, of not requiring the killing of an animal, like the traditional cheese making process - rennet comes from the inside of the stomach of animals; I guess it does not make it vegan as you still use some animal product, but still, I think it is a step forward. Another advantage is that the lacto-fermentation increases the amount of a range of vitamins compared to the milk it is made with, and also, that a by-product of the fermentation is the creation of probiotics (lactobacillus etc...) From what I have read it would seem that people who are intolerant to milk can sometimes have kefir....

    Yes, the bread and cheese are delicious, thanks, the only problem is resisting temptation!!!

    I'm going to try and link photos from Wikipedia:


  4. #4
    Senior Member Selah's Avatar
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    Fascinating and stomach-rumbling inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

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    You're welcome Selah!

    I've just 'joined' your blog

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    Beautiful bread and curd....

    I've been making kefir for 15-years (from the original grains) and I use kefir as a substitute for buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, and plain yogurt. You can drain the curd to the thickness you want, or shake it, breaking up the curd, to make a liquid. The curd is much smaller than yogurt curd, so it is easier to digest - especially for children.

    I use the drained whey for fermenting, to make homemade buckwheat noodles, and in the summer we make whey lemonade, a great thirst quencher. Add chia seeds to the whey lemonade and you will stay hydrated longer. If I happen to have some coconut water, I'll add that to the whey lemonade. Leave that garbage Gatorade in the store!

    We add kefir to our morning smoothie with a small amount of 100% fruit juice and some add-ins (hi-maize starch, protein powder and gelatin - Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolystate in the green box - milled flax seed and chia seed, and powdered supplement we take. The smoothie is essentially a delivery system for the add-ins. I also use kefir grains to make coconut milk kefir - yummy stuff - and best served as a dessert kefir, or with granola on the top for breakfast.

    Kefir is much easier to make than yogurt and it's also better for you than yogurt.

  7. #7
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    OK--I'm sold. I've perfected kombucha now, and kefir is pricey, so this will be my next adventure. Thanks, Sulevia.

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    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    I've never had kefir and I think I might buy a quart to see if I like it. Is there any possibility of cultivating kefir grains - or at least more kefir - from the storebought kefir, the way I would use storebought yogurt as a starter?

  9. #9
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    Hi JanetV2.0 and Kib

    Janet, I like making kombucha too, although I never drink enough of it to justify making it all the time. You'll find making kefir even easier!

    Kib, the kefir they sell in store tends to be 'dead' - lol, slight exageration here! - but you'll know what I mean: they 'pasteurise' it, do all kinds of things to it to stop the naturally occuring transformation from continuing while on the shelves, so you are in fact losing all the goodness. If you use pasteurised milk to start with, no issue as to health risks. You would not be able to 'create' the little culture (that looks like cauliflower floret) from what you buy in store, you need to have some of the grains to start.

    A lot of people who make kefir have got lofty ideas about exclusively using organic, raw, goats milk... don't be put off by that, and if you can afford it (and trust the milk supplier you get your milk from) go ahead; of course, the freshest the milk, the more goodness in the kefir, and everyone knows goats' milk is the best! As I am on an extremely tight budget, I use the cheapest full-cream cows milk I can find and my kefir is absolutely gorgeous!

    Let me know of your experimentations and I'm happy to help with tips if you need any

    I got my original culture free through a Kefir Yahoo Group, as I mentioned earlier, kefir cultures are meant to be shared, not sold.... If I was in the US I'd offer to send you some, but I've checked the group, it seems to still be in existence (it's called kefir_making) and you should easily find someone on there who will happily share with you, and if they're not local you'd just have to contribute to postage.

    Have fun! and keep me posted with your progress.

  10. #10
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    yes, Lessisbest, kefir is really amazing, but I love yogurt too.... I am curious about the whey lemonade? Do you make it like homemade fermented ginger beer?

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