Kefir cheese - A question

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bernardsmith

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I frequently make a hard kefir cheese , which is to say, I am not using the kefir to simply culture the milk for 40 minutes or so but I am using kefir as the base for my cheese. What I have been doing is collecting about a gallon of the kefir and the straining, salting and flavoring with herbs and then pressing for about 3 days under about 50 lbs of pressure. We enjoy the cheese, but I wonder, what if I treated the kefir curds much like I treat regular curds and a) added rennet and then b) heated the curds to about 90 F. Might the paste become less crumbly or is the crumbliness of the paste due to the low pH of the curds? Thoughts? Thanks
 

chthon

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Well, kefir is acid. And you can make cheeses with acids like lemon acid or vinegar. So, what you are doing is just using a different acid.

And yes, you can add rennet after acidifying your milk with kefir. You can find it in this book "The art of natural cheesemaking".

(Still needing to find time to make my first rennet based cheese, too busy with brewing, making wine, needing to find time to press apples, cleaning up the garden for the winter, keeping my wife satisfied, having a daughter on her first weeks at university, but in the meantime we already make our yogurt, and I maintain my kefir (actually, I have been drinking kefir since the end of summer, and I feel that I have much more energy)).
 
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bernardsmith

bernardsmith

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Well, kefir is acid. And you can make cheeses with acids like lemon acid or vinegar. So, what you are doing is just using a different acid.

And yes, you can add rennet after acidifying your milk with kefir. You can find it in this book "The art of natural cheesemaking".

(Still needing to find time to make my first rennet based cheese, too busy with brewing, making wine, needing to find time to press apples, cleaning up the garden for the winter, keeping my wife satisfied, having a daughter on her first weeks at university, but in the meantime we already make our yogurt, and I maintain my kefir (actually, I have been drinking kefir since the end of summer, and I feel that I have much more energy)).
Thanks, chthon, but I think I was not sufficiently clear. I am very familiar with Asher's book and kefir is the only culture I use to make all my cheeses - from Camembert to cheddar to alpine to squeaky curd... BUT I am not talking about making a cheese by adding a quarter cup of kefir to a gallon of milk. I am asking about making a cheese FROM a gallon of kefir curds that have been sitting in my fridge for about 3 weeks ... When you add culture, the culture acidifies the milk for - what forty minutes? - But this is 100 percent kefir (Have never measured the pH or the TA of this kefir) so my question : when the milk is SOOOOO acidic and is already curded can one usefully add rennet and can one usefully heat the milk to help make a softer paste?
 

chthon

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I think that you find the solution in the chapter "Pasta filata cheeses". If you start from fresh milk, that is completely acidified (Asher does this for 12 hours for mozarella), and you add rennet, you still get curds and whey.

Milk contains casein and other whey proteins. In UHT milk, the caseins are denatured. But in kefir from fresh milk, they will not be denatured, but their calcium phosphate bonds will be dissolved. They will still start to set when you add rennet. I think you can add calcium chloride before you add the rennet to strengthen the curds.

In case of doubt, experiment with 1 l of kefir. But follow the normal routine, warm to 32° C, then add your rennet and see what happens.
 
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bernardsmith

bernardsmith

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Thanks, I think the only way to know for sure is to try this myself. Certainly when I acidify the milk by adding bacterial culture (from the kefir) curds do not form until the rennet is added and allowed to coagulate the milk. When I make kefir the curds are already formed so the issue is whether the rennet and the heat will help bind the curds to allow me to form larger curds than are normally formed as kefir and so create a different texture of the paste. My guess is that adding rennet will have no impact and the heat might remove even more of the whey so the curds will shrink even smaller ... but this is an empirical question . I will test the this out next batch I make (in about two weeks when I have collected enough kefir to make a cheese from a gallon. ).
 
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