Monday, July 22, 2013

Homemade Cream Cheese

It is not often I make cream cheese, but instead, I usually opt to make Fromage Blanc or Quark.  Yes, I know cream cheese is absolutely wonderful and I couldn't agree more, but there is that part of me which has such a hard time letting go of my precious cream to make a cheese I can just about duplicate in taste with skim or whole milk and not over half cream.  But enough of my whining.  

The cream cheese recipe does just really follow the same process that I went through when documenting how to make Fromage Blanc and Quark, but just like all the hard cheese recipes I have posted, the final product is the outcome of which particular milk products are used, the set temperature, the time left to set, the type of culture, and the amount of rennet used.  And, for cream cheese, there are some broader variations on which you stretch these variables to make a cheese more liking to your palate or your end desired use for the cheese (i.e., table cheese verses cheese to make cheese cake).

For me, this cheese is going to be used to make my version of different cheese that has a rich and sourish taste to it, so I am going to increase the rennet by a drop more than I would normally use, use a less sweet culture, and also allow the cheese to set for a few hours longer.

Here is how simple it is to make your own homemade cream cheese:

First start out with 2 quarts of whole milk and 2 quarts of cream.

In a sterilized pot, heat the cream and whole milk mixture to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove from the heat and then sprinkle the milk with 1/2 teaspoon of Mesophilic culture.  (Usually I use an Aroma Mesophilic culture to make the cheese just a bit sweeter, which is a change you could make too.)

After the culture has re-hydrated, stir it into the milk with at least 20 up and down strokes.  Then mix 1/4 cup water with 5 drops of rennet.  (Again here is another change, usually I would use only 4 drops.)

Stir in the water and rennet mixture with another 20 up and down strokes.

Then cover the pot and allow to sit for 14 hours undisturbed.  (Here the change would be only 12 hours for a little less sour taste.)

After the 14 hours of sitting, scoop the cheese and whey into the colander lined with a poly cheese cloth (much easier for clean up).  And allow to drain for 4 hours.

Move the colander into a bowl, put the cheese in a draining bag, and then continue draining in the refrigerator for another 4 to 8 hours, flipping the mass if necessary, until the cheese is dry enough to knead.

Knead in 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt, again according to your preference.  This cheese will keep for only 2 weeks in the refrigerator, so make sure to enjoy it quickly!

And that shouldn't be difficult because this cheese cannot hold a candle to the stuff you would buy at the store.  (Just a quick note too if you are wondering about the color and why my cream cheese is yellow.  That has to do with the fact I milk a Jersey cow which is known for its yellow fatted cream.  The Holstein cream has to be colored to look like the the higher fat quality milk, but the Jersey does it naturally.)

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