Probiotic Potato Salad

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Like I promised, here’s the recipe for Probiotic Potato Salad. I served it not only to my immediate family, but also to extended family. They enjoyed it immensely and were none the wiser (until I fessed up). Unless they were just being nice, I think they didn’t realize they were eating something so good for their gut!

The secret probiotic in this recipe is kefir cheese (also feel free to make and use yogurt cheese).

My husband and children were absolutely astounded to find out they’d eaten kefir in their potato salad. After they’d eaten dinner, saying multiple times, “Wow, this potato salad is so good!” I asked them, “Guess what you just ate?” and their faces got all serious as they said, “Was that kefir?” I just laughed and they knew. Like I wrote yesterday, I’m not into tricking my family or disguising food. But, I feel their first experiences with kefir prejudiced them against it, so I’m using it and not telling them until afterward. But I do tell them. Eventually.

Oh, I’m such a good mom! Poor family. Hopefully they realize that I love them dearly and don’t just view them as lab rats. I don’t see them that way – honest! But sometimes I think they need a little help to realize how good something tastes. And I’m not going to start on my rant about how I really feel inside when people refuse to eat something I’ve made, when I know darn well how good it is … I’ll save that for another day, or for never. 😉 Just pray for my attitude, okay?

How about if I get to the recipe already? You must start the entire process about a day and a half before you plan to feast on it.


  • 1/2 gallon plain kefir or plain yogurt
  • homemade herb seasoning salt
  • a dozen medium-size red potatoes, preferably organic or naturally-grown
  • half to whole medium sized onion, preferably organic or naturally-grown
  • 2 stalks celery, preferably organic or naturally-grown
  • 4 pastured eggs (optional)
  • diced olives (optional)
  • additional raw milk
  • additional herbs: parsley or dill (fresh or dried, preferably organic or naturally-grown)
  • additional sea salt or garlic

Step 1. Make Kefir Cheese


Start with a homemade or store-bought batch of kefir or yogurt. I started with a half gallon of kefir, and had extra left over for dip.

Line a stainless-steel colander (NOT aluminum) with fine cheesecloth or 100% cotton fabric (suitable for a pillowcase or sheet is good). Put the colander inside a stainless steel pot or ceramic pot. Then carefully pour the kefir or yogurt into the cheesecloth-lined colander. The whey will begin to drip out. Tie up the ends of the cotton, just to keep bugs and dust out, but leave it lying in the colander for an hour or so. Then tie it better and hang it so it is suspended over the colander. (At this point, you can carefully retrieve the whey – and use for soaking grains – by switching pots and pouring the whey from the first pot into a jar and refrigerate it.) Let the bag of kefir or yogurt hang and drip for about 24 hours, until it is has a thick sour cream consistency. The whey from the first couple hours is good for soaking grains or lacto-fermentation, and even 24-hour old whey will still work but has a stronger flavor.

After 24 hours, take down the hanging bag, and scrape the kefir cheese into a storage container, preferably glass. (Rinse the cloth with cool water, then wash in a high heat cycle or boil it to sanitize it for next time.)

Step 2. Make Herbed Kefir Cheese

I don’t know how much kefir cheese you’ll get – it depends on hanging time, thickness of kefir in the beginning, and cloth thickness. So, you’ll have to season it to taste by slowly whisking in homemade herb seasoning salt (or Herbamare) until you like how it tastes. Chill until ready to make the potato salad. Whatever you don’t use in the potato salad is a ready-made dip for veggies. Yay for yummy and useful leftovers!

And bonus! If you use my homemade seasoning salt, you’ll be adding the superfood kelp to your diet, a wonderful source of minerals.

Step 3. Prepare Potato Salad Ingredients

In salty water, boil about a dozen medium size organic or naturally-grown red potatoes, until soft. Drain and allow to cool. You may also choose to roast your potatoes. I don’t bother skinning them. The skin will scrape off easily when they’re cooked, if you wish it.

Optionally, hard boil eggs, if you want those in your potato salad.

Once cooled, dice the potatoes and eggs and put in a mixing bowl.

Chop onions and celery and any other ingredients you wish to add, such as olives. Add to the bowl with the diced potatoes and eggs.

Step 4. Prepare Dressing

Take about 1 cup of the herbed kefir cheese (or herbed yogurt cheese). Again, I don’t know what consistency you’ll have, so I can’t be specific as to the following quantities of what you’ll add. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of raw milk at a time, until it takes on a runnier consistency that will be good for tossing with the potato salad ingredients. Here, I am looking for a thinner salad dressing consistency.

Step 5. Put Together Potato Salad

Put all the potato salad ingredients in a bowl. Add the herbed kefir cheese dressing and toss lightly – you don’t want to mash the potatoes. Here’s where you’ll have to add other ingredients to taste. Definitely: parsley and dill (fresh or dried). Perhaps: more salt and garlic. Chill until ready to serve. It is good to let this chill a good two hours for flavors to mingle and all the ingredients to get good and cold. Enjoy!

I’ve submitted this recipe to Real Food Wednesday!

© Copyright 2009 by Wardee Harmon.

Next Tuesday, I’ll be launching a blog carnival here at – the Tuesday Twister Blog Carnival. The first week, I’ll be giving away some of my homemade soap to one blessed participant. Please join us!

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. Linda Stiles says

    I worry about leaving food out in this heat. (105 here and 95 inside) Is it ok? Also even soaking beans or grains in this weather. Is it safe?

    Thanks for sharing the recipe, sounds delish! :)

    • says

      Linda – I worry about it too. This morning, I’ve got a batch of cheese that is worrying me, so I moved it to the fridge (it was out). Our house is about 90 degrees in the evening the past few days.

      When I made this potato salad, our house temp was in the high 70s.

      Here are some things I would do if I were going to make in our current high temps.

      I would salt (to taste) the kefir or yogurt before putting it in the cheesecloth – salt will suppress putrefying bacteria, as will the whey that is naturally present in the kefir/yogurt.

      If any of it started spoiling, it would be the kefir/yogurt that are at the edges of the glob in the cheesecloth. Those bits can be scraped off and the main glob left alone.

      I would smell it frequently and consider moving it to the fridge if it began smelling off. It can’t hang it in the fridge. But hanging isn’t essential. My mom always made yogurt cheese by putting the yogurt in a pillow case, in a colander, over a pot/bowl. She’d twist up the top of the pillowcase and come back and do that off and on, encouraging the whey to drip out. The pillowcase was never hung. So this setup could be moved to the fridge if you’re worried.

      As for the grains and beans, watch for a layer of whitish bubbles at the top and skim that off frequently. It is my opinion that an 8 to 12 hour or overnight soaking will be fine on the counter. But… I am saying that a little not sure. 😉 There’s nothing wrong with moving it to the fridge. You’re not fermenting, so the cool shouldn’t interfere. When soaking grains, whether out of or in the fridge, make sure you’re adding an acid medium – yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, whey, Kombucha, etc. – to the soaking water (1 tablespoon per cup). This will not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also suppress putrefying bacteria. However, the last time I soaked beans in whey, they didn’t soften – so I’m not eager to try that again. 😀 For beans, I would just use water for soaking and skim off the scum frequently or move to the fridge if I got worried.

      Hopefully this will help you. I’d be happy for anyone else to chime in and tell me if I’m waaayyy off – better hear that I’m wrong than you do the wrong thing!

      • Deb Seely says

        Actually, I have hung a bag of yogurt in the ‘fridge once to make the cheese like this. I tied the ball close to the top of the “glob” and inserted a wooden spoon handle. Then I suspended the ball over a taller pot that the wooden spoon was longer than the diameter of the pot. It suspended the cheese right over the draining whey and I think that just a bit did end up dragging, but I could have made the knot at the top a bit higher and taken care of that issue. If you have a dutch over, or pot and a spoon that will fit over the top of it without falling in, you can very likely make this in the ‘fridge. HTH
        God bless you and yours
        Deb Seely

  2. says

    What a great recipe! Looks fantastic. Every time I’ve tried to make kefir cheese it has ended up much, much too “ripe” for me. Leaving it out an extra bunch of hours seems to make the cheese almost fizzy and alcoholic. Someday I’ll try hanging it in the fridge and see if I like that better (that would be someday when my fridge is not completely full of food… like that’s ever going to happen.)
    .-= Alyss´s last blog post… Roly Poly, Daddy’s Little Fatty =-.

    • says

      Alyss – interesting! I’m sure you’re right, especially in hot weather the fermentation action would pick up. Thanks for mentioning that!

  3. says

    Wonderful to see you writing about yogurt cheese. We like it so much we wrote a cookbook and guide to expand its uses. I hope you will allow us to share our enthusiasm: Yogurt cheese (or YoChee as we call it) is a wonderful versatile ingredient you can make at home to improve your own yogurt. Simply by draining it. It has substantial health, taste and cooking benefits (a creamy food which is low or no fat plus high protein and calcium). I hope you will take a look at,” Eat Well the YoChee Way” our guide and cookbook to this important food. We even paid ($1,000) to have yogurt cheese analyzed in a lab for nutritional content. The book really increases the use of yogurt cheese to main courses, soups, sauces, desserts, and much more. (Nutritional content included). Inexpensive durable drainers (starting at $9.) make it easy and clean. Our website contains a free yogurt cheese how – to slide show, nutrition information and free recipes. Thanks.

  4. says

    Hi there Wardee, I was wondering how long you let your kefir set out to culture when you are using the kefir to make kefir cheese? I generally let my kefir culture for 12-18 hours and it doesn’t really seem thick enough to do cheese with? Should I let it culture for longer than that until it gets to the “curds & whey” point in order to make the cheese?

    Also, have you tried using kefir to make yogurt with? Wondering how that would work?

    • says

      Lori, the amount of time depends on the temperature, but most days in Oregon I let it sit out 24 hours and it is nicely thickened, still drinkable but also passes as yogurt if poured over fruit in a bowl. This is the consistency I use for making cheese, too. You cannot use run of the mill cheesecloth – it has to be fine cheesecloth or the curds will slip through it. Then you don’t let it hang right away, but let about an hour’s worth of whey drip out (leaving a more solid mass of curds in the cheesecloth) before suspending the bag. It really does work. :)

      We use kefir as yogurt, but it is NOT yogurt. It is a completely different culture.

      Hope this helps!

  5. says

    I had to laugh when I read that you put kefir in this! My family always asks before they eat!!! However, I recently made a great potato salad with new potatoes, and I put sauerkraut in it! It was really, really good.

  6. Sonya says

    I LOVED this recipe! We’ve been slowly removing mayonaisse from our diets and now we’ve got a mayo free potato salad, which is MUCH better than my regular potato salad I might add. Thank you! We also loved the season salt recipe, Thanks twice. :-)

  7. says

    Wow, this sounds amazing good! I can’t wait to try it…and to make your homemade seasoning salt. I’ve been making my own seasonings now for over a year and I just love them! They are so much more flavorful, even without that “flavor enhancing” MSG 😉

  8. says

    Can I just say this recipe JUST hit my potato salad craving for fourth of July? The herbed seasoning I made I am so glad I have too. I didn’t happen to have the kefir but I want to get the stuff to make it because it sounds so wonderfully healthy but I made my yoghurt cheese, and oh I just loved the fresh dill in this. The salad had such a cool crispy taste! Yum and Thank you!

  9. says

    This is a delicious recipe! My man, who hates mayonnaise, goes without eating potato salad, macaroni salad, etc. He devoured this recipe right up, and asked for more! Thanks – it’s even healthier than NT mayo, too. :)

  10. Cindy says

    Can vanilla yogurt be used instead of plain? I’m going try with whatever we have on hand. Hopefully it works.
    Thnks for a great recipe.

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