Easy Cheese: Making Cream Cheese at Home

Ingredients for Making Cream Cheese

Ingredients for Making Cream Cheese

For my unbirthday Amanda was kind enough to start me on my journey of cheese by buying me the Basic Hard Cheese Kit from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. One of my 101 goals is to make cheese at home. I’m not sure why other than it’s part of my DIY nature and I like things fermenting in my house. Anyway the easiest recipe that I could make with my kit was Cream Cheese.

I had personally never really considered that cream cheese was real cheese, but it does use the same mesophilic starter that real cheeses use, so I’m considering it a real cheese. Plus that means I get to cross it off my 101 things list!

Adding Starter to the Half & Half

Adding Starter to the Half & Half

The nice thing about making cheese is that it really doesn’t require many exotic ingredients. Cream cheese is just made from plain old half & half from Trader Joes, plus the starter that came with my kit.

Cheese Curds Placed in Cheesecloth

Cheese Curds Placed in Cheesecloth

The first step is to bring the half & half to room temperature in a hot water bath in the sink, and then add the starter.

After 12 hours you have a smelly puddingsome goop that you put into cheesecloth to drain. The liquid that drains is called whey, and what’s left are the curds. In cream cheese the curds are really tiny so I doubled up the cheesecloth.

Creative Cheese-Draining Device

Creative Cheese-Draining Device

I was scratching my head for a while trying to figure out how to drain the cheese in a spot far away from the cats. Then I remembered I had my beermaking stuff at home and came up with this contraption: the draining cheese rests on my beer stirring spoon, balanced on my brew kettle. It worked wonderfully! Look Alton Brown, that spoon is no longer a unitasker.

Cream Cheese After Draining

Cream Cheese After Draining

Once the cheese has drained for 12 hours (or in my case, 18) then it starts resembling cream cheese finally. I pressed it into the plastic mold that came with my kit to form it into some kind of shape.

And look what resulted: a beautiful hunk of cream cheese! The taste was fairly good, but a little more sour than I like I think that may have been due to the extra draining time that I did because it was still soggy after 12 hours. But otherwise the texture was right on, and it tastes great on Panera bagels 🙂

With one cheese down, I’m now planning on my next lacto-bacterial adventure. The entry-level hard cheese is “farmhouse cheddar”, so I’ll probably give that a whirl. It takes about a month to age, which will necessitate the purchase of a wine fridge (wafna!). I also want to make Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, in preparation for the Great Home Pizzamaking Adventure.

The Final Cream Cheese Product

The Final Cream Cheese Product

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3 Responses to Easy Cheese: Making Cream Cheese at Home

  1. Kate Cauley says:

    I was wondering if you bought that wine fridge/cooler for your cheese. I was thinking of buying one for my cheese and I was hoping to find someone who had. Does it work? The cream cheese looks great, I bought the hard cheese kit from the same place and have made a Monterey and a Cheddar, now we’re just waiting for a few months to try it.

    • pinchaque says:

      I did! I bought the Wine Enthusiast Silent 28 Bottle Fridge and it works great. I put a cheddar in there in late January and just tasted it the first time this past week. The fridge is fairly versatile, with adjustable shelves. I filled it with wine and beer and saved a little space for my cheese projects as well.

  2. Pingback: Hard Cheese: Farmhouse Cheddar « Pinchaque’s Great Adventure

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