Cream cheese is fantastic spread on crackers and bread, and as a base for dips, cheese cake, or frosting. Cream cheese is very easy to make and is a great option for beginning cheese makers.
What you need:
- 2 quarts cow milk (do not use ultra-pasteurized or ultra-high-temperature milk) or a combination of milk and cream (see tips below)
- Butter muslin (very fine-weave cheese cloth) or a tight-weave dish towel
- A large pot with a lid (if metal, be sure it's non-reactive such as stainless steel)
- A wooden spoon
- A thermometer
- 1 packet Cream Cheese Starter Culture (this is a ready-to-use packet that includes both starter culture and rennet). If using this starter, up to 1 gallon of milk can be used.
Step One: Culture the Milk
If using the ready-to-use Cream Cheese Starter Culture:
- Heat the milk to 86°F. Be sure to use fresh milk.
- Remove the milk from the heat and thoroughly stir in the packet of cream cheese culture 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 your 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 the corners of the muslin up 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.
Cream Cheese Tips
- 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.