So you’ve taken the plunge and started making your homemade milk kefir. It tastes alright on its own, but maybe you’re looking to add a bit of variety to your kefir intake. Or maybe not everyone in the family is in love with the taste of plain kefir so you’re looking for ways to keep everybody on the kefir train.
The good news is milk kefir is really versatile. It can be used for just about anything calling for a bit of cultured dairy product, whether it be savory or sweet.
Replace the buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream in your favorite salad dressing recipes with kefir. Or wing it and try a few different flavor combinations. Add a bit of garlic, cumin, and cayenne for a southwestern flavor. Grate some ginger, garlic, and cilantro and add to kefir for an Asian flare. Or go with everyone’s favorite ranch dressing by adding garlic, parsley, and lemon to your kefir salad dressing.
Spreadable (cream) Cheese
Like yogurt, kefir can be strained through a coffee filter or cheesecloth over a bowl. The whey will drip into the bowl and the kefir cheese will remain on top. You can flavor this as you would cream cheese for crackers, veggies, or bagels. Add some minced chives, roasted garlic, or even a little lox for that savory cream cheese-like spread.
To make a thick dip use either a kefir that has been allowed to ferment until thick or combine half kefir and half sour cream to use as the base of your vegetable dip. Then mix in your favorite combinations such as the ones mentioned above under salad dressings.
The most obvious and most common way that people consume kefir is through smoothies. This most often involves blending kefir with fruits like bananas, berries, and avocados to create a yummy treat. You could also try using new combinations like orange + vanilla, coconut + pineapple, or apple + cinnamon.
This frozen treat can be made by sweetening and flavoring your kefir or make an extra-large batch of smoothies and freeze half in popsicle trays.
Replace the milk in your homemade ice cream with kefir for a cold, tangy treat! Try basic vanilla kefir ice cream, basic kefir ice cream with variations, or this interesting kefir Popeye and olive oil ice cream.
Sweet (cream) Cheese Spread
If you are like me and grew up loving the sugar-ladened fruity cream cheeses sold in the store to spread on bagels, then you might want to consider making a healthier kefir version. Simply strain kefir through cheesecloth or a coffee filter over a bowl and use the thickened kefir as a base. Mix with chopped fruit, seasonings like cinnamon or vanilla, and add a natural sweetener like raw honey or stevia to taste.
Slightly Sweetened Beverage
If you simply want to enjoy a refreshing glass of kefir with a bit of flavor, try some of these combinations with a touch of sweetener:
- a splash of vanilla extract
- a bit of fruit juice
- nutmeg and egg yolk (ala egg nog)
- coconut, chocolate, almond, or coffee extracts
Whichever way you choose to consume milk kefir is the right way. And using any of the above ideas will help use up that delicious, nutritious abundance of kefir!