To make Kefir cream you may use Kefir grains or Kefir as a starter. Kefir will dilute the cream according to how much you use, while a disadvantage of Kefir grains is that they tend to get lodged in the cream. Experience will be your best teacher of how much Kefir or Kefir grains you need to culture sour cream.
I generally add equal parts of kefir to 60% fat cream. That is one cup of Kefir and one cup of double weight cream. Once again the incubation period is dependent on temperature, quantity and quality of the starter and substrate.
Cream seems to require a longer fermentation period than milk (about double) and should be gently mixed two or three times in that period.
Light Cream Cheese
A simple cream cheese may be made by straining Kefir through unbleached linen. (Cheese cloth is not quite fine enough.) Cut a piece about 45cm square, boil it for about ten minutes to remove pigment and chemicals, and hang to dry. You may sterilise it with an iron if you wish. Line a large glass bowl with the linen and pour in the Kefir.
Gather the corners of the linen and tie with a length of string, making a loop at the end. Find a clean, cardboard box that is tall enough to hang the bag of cheese with space at the bottom for a glass bowl. Make a hole in either side of the box at the top, just large enough to fit the handle of a wooden spoon through. Hang the bag of cheese from the wooden spoon from the looped string.
Close the lid of the box and cover with a tea-towel to prevent intrusion from insects. Hang the cheese for about 24 hours, or longer if you prefer a stronger cheese. If you need to hang a large quantity of cheese try hanging it from a stick suspended across the backs of two chairs.
Once the cream cheese is dry enough scrape it from the linen bag with a curved scraper and store in a plastic container in the fridge. Transfer the Kefir whey to a glass jar and refrigerate. Kefir whey makes a refreshing drink and may be used in a number of recipes e.g. Ricotta cheese may be made from whey). Kefir whey may be used as a starter for sourdough bread and so on.
In keeping with the traditional spirit wash the linen with a dilute solution of lye water (potassium carbonate) available from Asian grocery stores. Pot ash lye or wood ash lye as it also known may be made by soaking wood ash in a bucket of water overnight. The resulting caustic liquid is decanted and filtered before use. The ash may also be used to scrub bench tops.
Richer Cream Cheese
To make a rich cheese use the same procedure as above but add cream to your initial culture. A good starting ratio is equal parts of milk and cream, as in kefir cream. You may culture the milk and cream together, or separately and mix them prior to hanging.
There are three basic methods for cheese making. A cultured cheese as for the above recipe; a rennet cheese made by adding rennet to hot milk, and a third method of curdling milk by the addition of an acid. The cheese may then have a new starter culture added, be mixed with a variety of other ingredients such as chives and spices, before being pressed into blocks or wrapped in wax, and then left to mature for up to a year or more.
Butter is developed by churning cream which causes the fat to separate from the protein. To make butter, gently churn Kefir cream with the ‘paddle’ attachment in a food processor at a slow to moderate speed. After a few minutes the cream should separate into globs of butter and a watery buttermilk. Wash the butter in cool water to remove traces of buttermilk then press the butter into a jar or plastic container with the back of a spoon. Store in a refrigerator.
About the Author...
Abby Eagle gives comprehensive lectures about traditional nutrition including demonstrations of recipes from around the globe. Abby is the local chapter for the Weston A Price Foundation on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. As well as a wealth of information about ancient wise food ways, he is a source of free Kefir grains and Kombucha. You can find more recipes and information at his website rejoiceinlife.com