As my Kefir grains multiply, I am able to make more kefir than can be consumed by smoothies alone. Plus.....I don't want to make everyone bored with the Kefir and fruit smoothies...now do I. From the heaping tablespoon of Kefir grains I started with.......I now have a good 1/3 cup. I still use a 1 L (1 quart) canning jar to make the Kefir, but now instead of making 1/2 a jar each day I can make a full jar. With left over Kefir sitting in the fridge, and the next batch already ready to strain.....I decided to try and see if I could make a Kefir product that would be about the same consistency as spreadable cream cheese. I took my strained Kefir milk from the fridge and poured it into a strainer lined with a large paper coffee filter and left it to sit over a deep bowl to drain (with a cloth cover so nothing would settle into it). After only about two hours, it was a similar thickness to sour cream. I left it even longer ...............and after about 8-10 hours, it was about the consistency of spreadable cream cheese. (I say 8-10 hours as I left that batch over night and I'm not sure of the timing) The roughly 2 1/2 cups of thin Kefir milk had been separated into almost 1 cup of "cream cheese" and about 1 1/2 cups of whey. You can play with the times to get the consistency you'd like, and keep in mind that refrigeration will thicken it up a bit too. Also the type of milk you Kefir will have some affect of the thickeness of your product. Skim milk Kefir will be thinner than whole milk Kefir, so it will produce more whey and less 'cheese' when filtered. (We drink skim milk here, so I always keep a small container of full cream in the fridge to 'make my own whole milk' for Kefiring. You could easily thicken the Kefir to sour cream thickness and use it as a sour cream substitute. The flavour is tart and bright some where between that of sour cream and plain yogurt. I chose to add 2 rounded teaspoons off dill dip mix to my 1 cup of cream cheese to make a flavoured cream cheese spread. My son has been tearing through herb and garlic spreadable Philadelphia cream cheese at an alarming and expensive rate, so if this product passes the Ike test.....it could be a nice alternative. Again you can vary the amount of dip mix to flavour your dip or spread. When I added 1 rounded teaspoon the tart yogurt flavour still shines though....but with 2 teaspoons added, it pretty much tastes like a store bought flavoured cream cheese as the spices over power the bite of the yogurt. And of course you will want to let your dip or spread sit for at least 30 minutes to develop the flavours. There are also some interesting uses for the Kefir whey so it need not be wasted...more on that later:)
My parting thoughts of this.......This is really another great way to use up Kefired milk. I found the flavour of the dip and spread produced to be delicious. (The neighbours liked it too....so it's not just me) If you'd like to see some dip mix recipes, look through this post....if you don't happen to have any dip mix on hand.