If using the ready-to-use cream cheese starter culture:
Heat the milk to 86°F.
Remove the milk from the heat and thoroughly stir in the packet of cream cheeseculture mixture. Do not stir longer than 15 seconds.
Cover the pot and leave the mixture to culture for 12 to 18 hours at approximately 72°F.
After 12 to 18 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt (solid if tipped but still relatively soft). You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear liquid.
If using a mesophilic aromatic culture and rennet:
Heat the milk to 75°F.
Remove the milk from the heat and allow the mesophilic culture to dissolve on the surface of the milk for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once the culture is dissolved, thoroughly incorporate the starter culture into the milk.
Mix the 2 drops of rennet with 2 tablespoons of water or dissolve the rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of water. Add the rennet mixture to the milk. Using up-and-down strokes rather than a stirring motion, incorporate the rennet into the milk. Do not over-mix.
Cover the pot and allow the mixture to culture for 14 to 16 hours at 70° to 75°F.
After 14 to 16 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt (solid if tipped but still relatively soft). You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear liquid.
Step Two: Strain the Cheese
Place a piece of butter muslin (doubled) or a tea towel in a colander in a bowl. Gently spoon the cultured milk into the butter muslin. Gather up the corners of the muslin and tie knots to secure.
Hang the butter muslin filled with the cultured milk over a bowl so the whey can drain. An easy way to do this is to tie the butter muslin around a cupboard handle so the bowl to catch the whey can rest on the counter underneath.
Allow the cream cheese to drain for 6 to 12 hours to reach the desired consistency.
Knead salt into the cheese to flavor.
Store in the refrigerator. Use within a week.
Homemade Cream Cheese Making Tips
You can use up to 50% cream, if desired.
If larger batches of cream cheese are desired, use one gallon of milk (or combination of milk and cream), 1/4 teaspoon of aromatic culture, and 4 drops of liquid rennet.