Free Video: Kefir/Yogurt Cheese Balls

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We’re in the midst of a two week lesson on kefir in the Cultured Dairy and Basic Cheese eCourse. I shared troubleshooting and tips, how to make kefir cream, how to make kefir ice cream (yeah — probiotic ice cream!), how to make kefir cheese, and how to make kefir cheese balls. The weekly free video is an excerpt from this lesson — you get to see how I make kefir (or yogurt) cheese balls.

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Traditional Cheese Preservation

What I show you in the video above, and the recipe below, is a traditional Middle Eastern method of preserving yogurt cheese that requires no refrigeration. My family still follows it to this day. My grandmother and namesake, Tata Wardee, who has passed away, always had jars full of yogurt cheese balls available to add to our plates at breakfast, lunch and dinner!

The cheese is salted and soured, both of which are means of preservation — but then when fashioned into balls, the balls are submerged into extra virgin olive oil, a protective brine of sorts.

The kefir cheese for this method needs to hang and drip for over 2 days, so it will be quite dry. Otherwise, the balls won’t hold together in the brine. Because of this additional hanging time, it may be quite sour. If you are leery of the tang, try it with yogurt instead, which will always be more mild.

Or, if you have cold storage with room for a hanging bag of cheese, you can drip out the whey while fermentation is suspended — meaning sourness won’t develop during the hanging time.

Kefir/Yogurt Cheese Balls

  • very dry kefir cheese, made from hanging* from 1/2 gallon of kefir
  • 1/4 teaspoon+ sea salt (if not already salted)
  • 1-1/2 cups+ of extra virgin olive oil
  • quart size jar with tight-fitting lid

*Hanging Instructions: Put a colander inside a big pot or bowl. Line it with two layers of 90-count cheesecloth. Carefully pour the kefir into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and tuck them inside the colander. Hang the bag of cheese up, over the pot (you can remove the colander) for more than 2 days, until the whey no longer drips out and until the cheese is quite dry.

If you have not already salted the kefir cheese, do so. Starting with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, salt to taste.

Put the olive oil into the jar. With your hands, create individual balls of kefir cheese, about a tablespoon each. Plunge the balls into the olive oil one at a time. When all balls are in the jar, top off with additional olive oil, as needed. Cover tightly. Store in a pantry cupboard. Burp as needed. Keeps for a few weeks, at least, under normal pantry conditions, but more likely longer.

Serve at breakfast with any kind of eggs or breakfast meat, as a fermented side dish with lunch sandwiches or salads, and even at dinner next to grilled meats and rice. Not to mention for a snack with veggies or fruit! The sky’s the limit how you can enjoy kefir cheese balls. I hope you do!

What About You?

Have you made yogurt/kefir cheese balls before? If not, are you willing to try them? When you do, come back and let me know what you think!

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. says

    This is totally brilliant! I have made yogurt cheese a couple times, but I only strained it long enough to simulate cream cheese. My kids love it. I have been adding garlic and herbs since my kids love it. Can I use cheese balls in this recipe that have had garlic and fresh thyme added? I just like the taste, but I am concerned that something in the herbs might provoke spoilage….What do you think?

      • says

        I remember reading somewhere that garlic in oil should be refrigerated, as it can react to the oil at room temperature. I have made yoghurt cheese before, but never thought of preserving it, thanks to you and your grandmother, I’ll double my next batch of yoghurt and give it ago.

        • Nicole Rice says

          The concern with garlic is that it can contain botulism (since it grows IN the ground it has a higher chance) and the oil makes it anaerobic. The acidity of the kefir cheese is probably enough to keep botulism from growing- but if you are concerned- you can use dried garlic.

  2. says

    No, I haven’t made them before, but have made the yogurt cheese. Cannot wait to try this and am especially happy that I can store them somewhere besides the fridge!
    I will need to make less than you, however, as I get a much smaller quantity of milk for yogurt/kefir making. (I guess I could just buy the best organic yogurt I can find, though?)
    If I do make a smaller batch, couldn’t I add to the total as I am able to make more?

  3. says

    We tend to eat ours up. :-)

    However, I LOVE this idea to use up extra milk and store it without refrigeration! I hope tp try it this week.

    Thanks so much for sharing your grandmother’s tricks with us again. (Those are the best kinds!!! May our children and grandchildren always say its so!) :-)


  4. says

    I read something similar on Dom’s kefir making site and I have kefir cheese balls in extra-virgin olive oil that I intend to leave there for 10 years. He said they would taste like blue cheese!

    • says

      Heather — Do what you’d normally do, saute, dressings, etc. It is almost like the olive oil didn’t get used at all previously because it is almost entirely still available, with the exception of the small amount drizzled on the balls. Or, in my case, I use it a little as I go. If I scoop out a few balls of cheese to have with eggs, I drizzle some of the olive oil on my eggs, too.

    • says

      Rhonda — Yes! But I’d strain it so it is pure again. That way you won’t have any little floaters near the top in the presence of oxygen spoiling.

  5. Kelly Holderby says

    I just made these this morning — finger licking good! I used a combination of powdered kelp and sea salt for seasoning. They are screaming to me marinara sauce!


  6. Laurie Plath says

    I’m in the process of making your recipe for raw goat milk hard cheese. It has just one more day to go. Could I store this cheese in olive oil or haven’t you ever tried it?

  7. says

    can I do this withcream cheese?I have many many poundsin t freezer but am moving. I have kefir going too as well as yogurt but my concern is the cream cheese and how long it will store this way?

  8. says

    Hi there,

    I don’t think I have anywhere to hang the kefir – can it be left in the bowl for a week at room temperature, for the whey to come out?

    Can this method of preserving be used for all types of cheeses – are there any exceptions?

    Also how do you store your fresh whey and how long can you store it for?


    • Verna says

      I didn’t think I had anywhere to hang my yogurt to strain and then tied the top of the cheesecloth in to a loop and I hung it from one of my kitchen cabinet knobs. It worked great!

  9. Elena Marshall says

    Wardeh, should I assume you had already strained out your kefir grains and then put the kefir back into the jar? My kefir isn’t as thick, it’s more like a drinkable yogurt…… :o\ Am I not letting sit long enough? Thank you for your help!

    • says

      Elena, yes, I had already strained out the kefir grains. To get thicker kefir, you can do this and let it sit out another 24 hours (in regular temps). How long is your initial ferment? I usually go about 24-36 hours (in normal temps).

    • says

      You can use the whey for soaking grains, ferments, or even as a probiotic drink. One of my daughter’s finds that having a ‘shot’ of whey each day helps with tummy troubles. Whey can also be given to animals (dogs, cats, chickens, etc). It keeps for sometime in the refrigerator.

  10. says

    Have only been making kefir for drinking – gave these a go this week and the cheese is ready today! Tastes exactly like goats cheese – lucky for me as it’s my favourite! Love your site and your advice – your Idiots Guide to Fermenting is my bible – Now off to try some sauerkraut now my airlocks have arrived :)

  11. Thomasa Meinnert via Facebook says

    Yes!!! It is delicious! Just finished up a jar of kefir cheese balls with garlic and rosemary in the jar.

    • says

      That answers what I was going to ask – I made some rosemary infused olive oil and wanted to know if it would work!
      I know I like the cheese curds in the cheese shop that are in the herb and garlic oil.
      Can’t wait to try these :-)

  12. Lisa in TX says

    Ok! Finally made a successful batch of yogurt! A whole gallon of it! No worries. We’ll use some for smoothies, some for soaking grains, and the rest for making Yogurt Cheese Balls! Yippee! And I love that it is shelf stable. :-)

  13. Lisa Alexander Sanders via Facebook says

    Mine looked amazing at first, but overnight they puffed up and floated to the top. By morning, I had a mass of yogurt at the top. What did I do wrong?

  14. Michelle Power says

    I am going to try these now. I have a few extra jars of kefir in the fridge this week, so I am looking forward to this. I like that you can still use the leftover olive oil, as you normally would. Thanks!

  15. Angelica says

    Cool! I got tired of my kefir making so much kefir – so I put it on time out – this is inspiring! Btw, where do you buy your olive oil from? I see its a big jug! :)

  16. Christine says

    Made some of these this morning. I just used a quart of kefir until I know if I’m going to like them. Are they ready to eat as soon as you get them in the olive oil or do they need to sit for a few days?

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