Make it Yourself – Cultured Dairy Products

dairy.JPGMany dairy products are very easy to make yourself, nutritious and frugal. So why not give it a try? I completed my first batch of whey & cream cheese this week! Here are some recipes and benefits for your enjoyment.

Remember, it is best to just explore with one thing at a time. I have listed them in the order that is easiest to start including, and most beneficial.

NOTE: You will notice in these recipes that I personally prefer and use raw cow’s milk. This may sound very odd to many of you. If you would like to read more about this crazy phenomena visit here. Either way, you can make all of these recipes with regular milk as well and still save money and increase your overall nutrition. I make kefir each week, but the other products are fun to make when I have extra milk, so not as regularly (I have only been experimenting lately!).


Kefir, which means ‘feel good” in Turkish, is an ancient cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem” to maintain optimal health and strengthen immunity.

Kefir’s tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, and it contains beneficial yeast as well as the friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt, but is more nutritious. When used regularly, the naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in Kefir combine symbiotically to help balance your intestinal flora and boost your immunity.

Among its many beneficial powers, Kefir:

  • Provides supplemental nourishment for pregnant and nursing women
  • Contributes to your healthy immune system
  • Promotes a relaxing effect on the nervous system and benefit many who seek a restful night’s sleep
  • Helps support your normal intestinal tract function, promote bowel movements and your healthy digestive system — and is beneficial after the use of antibiotics to restore balance to the digestive tract
  • Curbs unhealthy food cravings by making your body more nourished and balanced

How do you make it?

I make kefir by placing my kefir grains in a quart size mason jar and filling it to the top with whole milk (you can also make it with an assortment of different milk, including coconut or almond milk). Cover loosely with lid. I let it sit in warm dark place for 24-48 hours, as mine tends to take longer in my cold house. After it has solidified, I remove the grains, and place the kefir in the frig. The grains are placed in a small amount of milk in the frig for the next batch or can be used immediately. I have discovered after much research that it is not necessary to rinse your grains after each batch, although you can if you would like.

Futher Reading:

Cultures for Health – buy kefir grains for a great price from this wonderful company! My source for all cultured starters.
How to Make Sour Cream from Kefir – this post was very insightful. This lady shares how she uses kefir to make sour cream as well. I like this suggestion.
Tammy’s Tutorial on Making Kefir – did a better job than I, so here you go!
Uses for Kefir
– a post I wrote a while back on the many uses of Kefir! Great for smoothies and replace all buttermilk with this fabulous product!

Whey & Cream Cheese

“Whey is such a good helper in the kitchen. It has a lot of minerals. One Tablespoon of whey in a little water will help digestion. It is a remedy that will keep your muscles young. It will keep your joints movable and ligaments elastic. When age wants to bend your back, take whey….With stomach ailments, take one tablespoon whey three times daily, this will feed the stomach glands and they will work well again.”

- Hanna Kroeger, Ageless Remedies from Mother’s Kitchen

How do you make it?

Take 1-2 quart of whole milk, buttermilk or yogurt and place in a clean mason jar. I had about 1/2 a quart of leftover milk to work with. If you use yogurt you can skip the first step.

1. Cover with lid and allow to sit 1-4 days (buttermilk will take 1-2 days). Mine took about 4 days. You want it to separate into white curds and yellowish whey.

2. Line a large strainer set over a bowl with a clean dish towel, tea cloth, or cheesecloth (tea cloth works for me!). Pour in the separated milk, cover and let stand at room temperature for several hours (longer for yogurt). The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer.


3. Tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a container (pitcher or something of the sort). Or be creative like me and hang it from the microwave door or from a cupboard nob with a combination of rubber bands. This allows all the whey to drip out. When the bags stops dripping, the cheese is ready. Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in covered glass container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese will keep for about a month and the whey for about 6 months. I recommend mixing the cream cheese with some herbs for a herbal spread.


Creme Fraiche

Creme Fraiche is the European style of sour cream. It is a delicacy to top your soups with! I have only tried this once and it definitely tasted like creme fraiche, but was more on the sour side.

How do I make it?

Combine 2 cups heavy whipping cream (preferably raw cream, if possible) with 2 Tbls buttermilk or sour cream in a mason jar. Cover and let sit at room temperature for approx. 24-48 hours. Keep an eye on it and taste it after 8 hours. Differing house temperatures will affect the time length. The warmer it is, the quicker it will solidify. It will become like the texture of sour cream. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. Lasts about 1-2 weeks. For future batches you can keep 2 Tbls of the original batch to replace for buttermilk.


Check out how to make your own butter here. I have found that homemade butter does not last very long, because it is very difficult to squeeze out all the buttermilk. I found that you should make small batches of it, use it quickly, and or freeze it in small batches.

Frugal nutritional living is lots of fun! Join us for the ride!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

45 Responses to Make it Yourself – Cultured Dairy Products

  1. yvonne May 16, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Can I use almond milk to make raw cream cheese

    • Lindsay May 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

      I don’t know personally. Try searching around on google on that one.

  2. erin December 9, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    I am wondering how to do all of this with raw almond milk? my two youngest are allergic to cow dairy/soy/beef and so I would like some more alternatives for them

  3. Mama August 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Can I make whey with the uncultered buttermilk I get after making butter? Would it have the same good nutrients?

  4. Sara January 22, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    You can also make paneer (farmer’s cheese) and will have plenty of whey. I love sagh paneer so I make it every couple of months and then use the whey in breads, pancakes etc.

    I use a gallon of milk and 4 cups of yogurt and heat the milk until about to boil then add the yougurt and stir a couple of minutes until it seperates into curds and whey. Next, you drain it though a cheesecloth to seperate. The curds stay in the cloth and you drain it over the sink for a couple minutes, then put it on a plate and a weight on top (like a pot of water or a heavy bottle) to squeeze out any excess whey. Then it’s ready to cut and add to curries or whatever you want.

  5. Brandy December 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Quick question… where do you get the kefir grains? I saw they sell them on amazon.. but am curious to know if any stores carry them?

    • Lindsay December 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm # is your best option. You will not find them in stores.

      • Laura March 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

        I’ve been using many of your recipes and have been so excited b/c they have turned out to be SO yummy~all 3 of my boys+ my main “boy” (husband) have LOVED them!! :) I tried the cream cheese today and after I did the process (waited until the solids and whey seperated-3 days-then strained them until it stopped dripping-6 hours) the cream cheese tasted sour. Is this typical? Thanks a bunch!!

  6. Becky October 15, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Thank you so much for explaining this in such a simple way. I have wanted to make cultured veggies from recipes I have found in Nourishing Traditions but had no idea where to get the whey. People at my health food store tried to sell me whey protein powder and I knew that couldn’t be right so thanks again!

  7. Cori August 25, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    Just made my first batch of Whey and Cream Cheese! I was so intimated by it, but it was super duper easy. I used a tea cloth and it worked great. With the whey I am about to make some lacto fermented veggies, yum!

    What herbs do you recommend for the cheese?

  8. Krystal July 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Hey Lindsay, I have been making kefir for a few weeks now and I have found that sometimes when I check my kefir first thin in the morning it is almost solid or like very thick yogurt…is this normal?? I just mix it up a bit and sometimes I just toss it b/c I wasn’t sure if that was how it was suppose to be?? What consistancy should I have?

  9. Megan May 31, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    I think I will make the cream cheese this week. How incredibly easy! I saw a lunch idea that I want to try (it involves cream cheese).

  10. Ami March 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Thank you for your simple explanation. I was just given some grains and I was looking all over Dom’s Kefir In-site. It was just too much information to figure out what I need to do tonight to make kefir and not kill the grains. Thank you for saving my grains!

  11. Mary March 11, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Can you tell me if you can use kefir milk instead of whole milk? I have been trying to keep my kefir going and got lots of milk. I really need to let me kefir set a while.

    • Lindsay March 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

      Yes, I would imagine you could, but you will definitely get a different taste I would imagine.

  12. Elisha December 15, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions:
    I use about 1 Tbsp of kefir grains in the bottom of a quart mason jar, and fill to the top with organic, whole, milk that has not been homogenized. My apartment is about 72 degrees. I put the jar in the cupboard, and after just 15 hours, It’s like soft cheese. Very thick and chunky. It takes a really long time to find and fish my grains back out. It barely even drains when I put into a strainer. Is my portion of grain to milk wrong? Is my house too warm. Should I only let it culture for about 10 hours or less? Any help or direction you can give would be helpful. I feel like my head is swimming from all the conflicting advice on websites! I got my grains from a reliable source, but maybe something is wrong with my grains?

  13. Alisha Moore June 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm #

    Hi I just love this site! I was wondering if you can use raw goats milk to make Kefir or any of the recipe that call for dairy?

    • Lindsay June 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

      Yes, definitely! Goat’s milk kefir is a wonderful option.

      • Alisha Moore June 18, 2009 at 10:42 am #

        Thanks!!! I know me asking sounds silly, but I’m new at whole foods & raw foods, Thanks=)

  14. Crystal May 15, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    In regards to the cream cheese and whey, is it ok to let the buttermilk sit longer? Will it spoil? And, is it ok if some of the cheese dripped into the whey?

    • Lindsay May 18, 2009 at 11:41 am #

      As long as you are using raw milk, you do not need to worry about it spoiling. Raw milk sours naturally and is very good for you. It is definitely not a problem to have a little cheese in with the way, although you should be able to scoop it out.

  15. Nancy April 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    How do you get all of the grains out? When it’s so thick, you can’t strain the kefir, so do you just skim the top and they are all up there?

    • Lindsay April 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

      Usually the kefir grains rise to the top of the container and are easily accessible to pull out with a spoon. Sometimes I have to feel around the jar for them or pour the contents into a large bowl to fish them out, but more often then not they are simply sitting at the top.

  16. Amie April 10, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    I have been reading about how to make whey and cream cheese in Nourishing traditons, my only concern was they recomend using a towel to put the yogurt into and I wasn’t sure what type of towel and if after the use you hand wash it. I didn’t want it to have any detergents going into the cheese. Also I have tried to find way to get raw milk and haven’t been sucessful. Do you have someone locally you get yours from?
    Thanks, Amie

  17. Melissa April 7, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    Lindsay, I tried cream cheese and whey today with store bought whole milk (as raw milk is illegal to sell here and we haven’t gotten our goats yet). Mine strained out looking exactly like your pictures. I want to make sure about the smell though. It definitely has a sour smell, like, soured milk. I just want to make sure I didn’t miss something that would keep this from happening. Is this just considered a fermented version, and I should expect it to taste a bit different from store bought? Thanks so much!

    • Lindsay April 14, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

      I have never made these products with store bought milk so it is hard to compare. Raw milk sours naturally and actually gives off a pleasant sweet smell from my experience. If I allow my kefir, for example, it to sit too long it does tend to get a more distinct sour smell though.

  18. Susie Wankerl February 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    Lindsay, I made my first whey and cream cheese this past weekend. The whey was rather pinkish in color. Is this normal?? I used an unbleached cheesecloth to strain it through. I wondered if that discolored it or if this was just the color it might be. I expected it to be clearish/white. Any thoughts?? Thanks!

    • Lindsay February 24, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

      Normally the whey will be a yellowish color. I am not sure exactly why yours would turn out pinkish, but I am sure it is fine.

  19. Janette February 6, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    Hi. I just got some kefir grains so I am new to making kefir. I’m wondering what your percentage of grains are to your quart of milk like how many Tablespoons per quart? And when you store your grains in the refrigerator how much milk do you put over them and do you pour off that milk when you are ready to make more kefir or do you just add more milk to the quart? How long have you been making kefir and have you ever had any problems with your grains dying or becoming contaminated? Thanks for all the info.

    • Lindsay February 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm #

      First off, I use about 2 Tbsp of kefir grain per quart of milk. When storing the grains in the fridge, I just pour in enough milk to cover the grains, and use all of this storing milk in the next batch of kefir. I have been making kefir for probably two years now and have never had any problems.

  20. Coral January 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    Can you tell me where you found tea cloth? Thank you so much!

    • Lindsay January 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

      I actually had someone give me some tea cloth, so I am not sure exactly where it came from. Search on google for “tea towel” to see several online sources, but I found it works really no different from a cloth napkin. They were relatively the same thickness but the tea cloth is definitely larger.

      • Rich February 12, 2012 at 11:10 am #

        try natural unbleached un treated muslin. Fraction of the cost. Takes a bit longer to drain little finer weave but again cheesecloth is very expensive muslin cheaper, washable in bleach water to sanitized yo use over.

  21. Judi March 19, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Very interesting post! I have been trying out different yogurt recipes, but never thought to try these other foods. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Lauren March 15, 2008 at 9:31 am #

    P.S. One more comment…(question, actually). Have you ever tried making the kefir with almond milk before? I’ve also heard that you can make kefir with it and I love almond milk, but am not sure if it would turn out as well as with using regular milk. Also, if you have done it with the almond milk, did you use homemade or store-bought?

    • Lindsay March 15, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

      I have not personally used almond milk, but I have a Aunt who uses it, as I recall. I have heard of others using it without any problems. Give it a try! I would imagine using store-bought almond milk.

    • Lynnette March 14, 2009 at 11:18 am #

      I as reading both this blog and Tammy’s and she says that non-mammalian milk will cause the kefir to stop growing. I realize this is a year after your post, but maybe it will help another newbie like me. .

  23. Lauren March 15, 2008 at 9:28 am #

    Thank you for the post, Lindsay! I have been wanting to make my own dairy products, but haven’t had the confidence yet. You make it sound quite simple, so now I am determined to give it a try! I just wish raw milk was easier and cheaper to come by where I live. Regular organic milk/yogurt might have to do…

  24. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home March 15, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    Thanks for the kefir link! I used to have grains, but I did something wrong at some point and lost my grains, and have been wanting to get more ever since. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some from one of the people in my area!

  25. Stacy March 14, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    This is great!! Thanks so much for these tips.

    I just started making kefir and really wanted to branch out into some other areas. This is very helpful.


  26. Julie March 14, 2008 at 11:03 am #

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been wanting to make some of this stuff, but don’t know where to start. Do you have any book recommendations?

    • Lindsay March 15, 2008 at 5:43 pm #

      Julie, well kefir is the best place to start! Follow the links for the best info I have found on the topic. Other books include Nourishing Traditions or Sue Gregg cookbooks. Were you looking for a specific kind of book? I did not quite understand your question. Send me an e-mail.

  27. Candace March 14, 2008 at 4:11 am #

    I have been making kefir for over a year now. It is so easy. I was lucky to find someone willing to share grains.
    Thanks for sharing.
    I posted today about buttermilk, but I’m sure you already make your own.
    have a great day!

  28. Tammy L March 13, 2008 at 11:49 pm #

    What a great post! :) Thanks for sharing! :)