Anybody else noticing the price of groceries drastically increasing in their area?
Lately when I’ve gone to the grocery store and walked down the aisle, I’ve been so thankful that we are able to produce a large amount of our food ourselves. We’re not 100% self-sufficient quite yet, but it’s such a relief to be able to skip the dairy, meat, bread, and egg sections of the store…
Last week while I was strolling down the dairy aisle, I couldn’t help but notice that the price of those little 8 oz cream cheese bricks was up to $2.50 per package. Yowza! Not too long ago, I would stock up on those guys for 99 cents each…
Since I am currently milking Oakley twice daily and have an abundance of cream (for the first time in a looong time…), I decided it was time to try playing around with making my own cream cheese.
And, let me just say that it couldn’t be easier!
First, some clarifications…
Number 1: there seems to be about a million different methods for homemade cream cheese out there. This is the method I prefer, and it’s pretty darn simple.
Number 2: Many, MANY “cream cheese” recipes out there are actually yogurt cheese recipes. I’ve made a lot of yogurt cheese as well, and it’s great– but not the same as real cream cheese. The flavor and texture are notably different.
Number 3: I used my fresh, raw cream for this recipe. However, since you are adding a culture to it, you could use store-bought, pastuerized cream if you had to. Or even half & half would work. Just try to use the highest quality cream that you can find.
Homemade Cream Cheese
- 1 quart of cream or half & half
- 1 package (1/8 teaspoon) of Mesophilic starter culture
- Fine cheesecloth (Find out how to improvise your own cheesecloth)
- Sea salt to taste (optional)
Make sure you are using a glass container to hold your cream. Gently stir in the starter culture.
Loosely cover (not airtight!) and set it on your counter top to culture for 8 to 12 hours. (It may take more or less time, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.)
You’ll know it’s done when it has set up and somewhat resembles yogurt. (It might not be a perfectly even consistency, but that’s ok.)
Dump the thickened cream into the cheesecloth and allow it the whey to drip out for at least 12 hours (the longer it drips, the firmer your finished cheese will be).
You might have to get a little creative with your drip set-up. I don’t have any knobs on my cabinet doors, so I tie the ends of my improvised cheesecloth around a wooden spoon and allow it to drip into a pitcher.
Once it has reached the desired consistency, scrape it out of the cheesecloth and lightly salt it to taste. The salt is optional, but it will help it keep slightly longer. Store in an airtight container in your fridge– it will get firmer as it chills.
I usually get 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cream cheese out of 1 quart of cream. Yields will vary slightly.
- I’ve seen several recipes that use cultured buttermilk instead of the mesophilic culture. I haven’t personally tried it, but it would probably work just as well. Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of buttermilk to your quart of cream to try this method.
- You can spice up that cream cheese with all sorts of different flavors! Mix in cinnamon, fruit preserves, or even some chives and onion powder for a unique treat.
- To make yogurt cheese: Follow this exact same method, substituting the quart of cultured cream with a quart of yogurt (homemade or store bought) instead.
- Wondering what to do with the leftover whey? Here are a bunch of ideas– don’t toss it!
- If you *ahem* accidentally forget about your cream cheese and leave it culturing or dripping for longer than stated above, don’t sweat it. It won’t hurt it and the worse that will happen is that it will just be slightly tangier.
Let me just say that this stuff is infinitely better than the store bought version. You’ll want to scoop it out of the container and eat it plain… Or smear it on some chocolate zucchini bread… Or make a pumpkin cheesecake… Or….
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