• Cream Cheese Recipe

    by  • September 26, 2011 • Recipes • 8 Comments

    Ok, it was my intention to have a variety of different cheese recipes up on this site by now. However, the only ones I have up so far are super easy cheeses that require almost no time or effort. This week’s recipe is another one of these.

    Keep in mind, though, that autumn is here. In my neck of the woods, this is the only season that doesn’t make me want stab out my eyeballs. This – coupled with the fact that I am in a much better state of mind since I don’t have a paper to revise, classes to teach, or talks to give – means that I can devote more time to more intensive cheesemaking. What I’m trying to say (in a not-so-eloquent manner) is that in the near future, I have some great recipes lined up. For now, eat some cream cheese.

    I will never, ever buy cream cheese again. It is by far the easiest cheese to make in my arsenal. It’s so easy that I debated adding this as a little coda to the chèvre recipe. You’re not going to believe it.

    First, you have to buy the starting material. In this case, I prefer to use light cream. It’s not available everywhere, so if you can’t find it you can use half and half. However, half and half is about 12% butterfat and light cream is 20%, so you will sacrifice a little flavor and lusciousness if you opt for the former. Or, if you really wanted to, you could add some heavy whipping cream to half and half. Just remember that your cream must not be ultra pasteurized!

    Pour your cream in to a clean container. I like to use a 2 quart saucepan with a lid. To keep things as sterile as can be, I boil water in my saucepan for 5 minutes, pour our the water, and let the pan cool down first.

    Add a smidgen of your starter culture (this is 1/64 of a teaspoon). For cream cheese, I like to use a culture that has L. cremoris cremoris, L. cremoris lactis, and L. cremoris diacetylactis. The best part is that you don’t even have to heat anything up! Sprinkle the culture evenly over the surface of the cream and let it hang out for a few minutes.

    Next, add one drop of double-strength rennet to 1 tablespoon of bottled water. Gently pour this in to your cream.

    Put the lid on your pot and let it hang out at room temperature for 12 hours.

    After 12 hours, you will have a solid curd mass. And when I say solid, I mean that you can top the pot on its side and no liquid will come out.

    That is all due to lactic acid production and the tiny little drop of rennet that we added. Isn’t that amazing?

    While you’re admiring your beautiful curd mass, prep your draining station by boiling some butter muslin for 5 minutes and getting it set in a colander. Scoop your curds in to the prepared muslin.

    Tie up the curds and let them hang at room temperature for another 12 hours. After this ripening time, your cheese is ready. Unwrap the cheese and put it in a clean container. Add salt to taste.

    From 32 ounces of light cream, I yielded 1.2 pounds (just shy of 20 ounces of cheese!). I like to start this at night, do my curd scooping in the morning, and then finish up the next evening.

    It’s fluffier and much more spreadable than the stuff you buy in a box in stores. I highly recommend it.

    Cream Cheese
    32 ounces of light cream
    1/64 tsp. starter culture
    1 drop double-strength rennet
    1 tbsp. bottled water

    1. Pour cream in to a sterilized pot.
    2. Sprinkle starter culture evenly over the surface of the cream.
    3. Let the culture bloom for 5 minutes, then stir it in.
    4. Add 1 drop of double-strength rennet to the water and stir well. Slowly trickle the rennet mixture in to the cream and stir for 20 seconds.
    5. Let the cheese ripen for 12 hours at room temperature.
    6. Scoop the curds in to sterilized butter muslin.
    7. Tie up the curd mass in the muslin and let it drain for 12 hours at room temperature.
    8. After 12 hours, untie the curds and scoop them in to a clean container.
    9. Add salt to taste, then refrigerate.

    Yield: Approximately 1 pound
    Use within one week.

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    8 Responses to Cream Cheese Recipe

    1. James R
      November 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      I’m going to be starting this tonight. It will be my first crack at cheesemaking. I’ve got a few questions:

      1. Should the cream be room temperature before starting? I would guess yes.
      2. My rennet is regular liquid beef rennet. Do I just use 2 drops instead of 1 drop of double-strength rennet?

      Great website, please keep it up!

      • Angel
        November 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm

        This is a really great cheese to do as your first one – I really hope it turns out for you! I actually don’t bother bringing the cream up to room temperature because I am impatient and it still works out great for me. Remember that it’s going to be ripening for a long time, and the process still works at lower temperatures, so that initial cold period doesn’t have much of an effect on the results. As for the rennet, I would stick with one drop. The primary method of coagulation in this cheese is the lactic acid production, which means that the rennet is just a little helper. You’ll be surprised how far one drop of rennet can stretch.

        Good luck, and thanks for reading!

        • James R
          November 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

          Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately after 12 hours of ripening my cream is still liquid. (http://imgur.com/a/P7JUP)
          My starter culture is Mesophilic aromatic type B (http://berryhilllimited.com/b-cart/Product.asp?pid=5270&cat=23).

          My cream is what we in Canada call Table Cream, i.e. 18%. There were two brands available. The Saputo (Neilson) one was labeled as being UHT pasteurized, the Sealtest one was not. So I bought Sealtest. Would ultrapasteurized cream have this effect on the process?

          • Angel
            November 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

            I’m so sorry that the recipe didn’t work out for you! First, don’t throw out what you have in the pot. I would add a few more drops of rennet (try 4) and let that sit for another 12 hours to see what happens. Remember to use bottled water, because if there is any chlorine in the water you use to dilute it can inactivate the rennet. If that doesn’t work, then it’s safe to assume the cream is the problem.

            If the cream was ultra-pasteurized, that definitely would have an affect on its ability to form curd. You might try giving Sealtest a call to determine their pasteurization method. I tried looking it up, but I didn’t have any luck. They seem to be a very big company, so I’m guessing that they probably do UP their cream.

            To ensure that you get a good result, I would also suggest using some calcium chloride next time. If you’d like, I’d be happy to send you some.

            • James R
              November 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm

              Thanks again. I did add a few more drops of rennet and let the cream ripen a while longer. Last night (after 48 hours of ripening), the curd mass had firmed up enough to scoop into the muslin. This morning I scooped it into a yogurt container and put it all in the fridge.

              The resulting cream cheese is quite sour, as you can imagine. The yield was 660g from 1L of 18% cream. Also, it’s very soft, softer than yours looks in the pictures. Not sure what I’ll do with it; sour as it is, it won’t make a very tasty spread. I think I’ll try a cheesecake.

            • Angel
              November 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm

              Well that’s a shame – but the good news is that you have your answer. The culprit was the cream. I’m very sorry that your first cheesemaking experience has not been a good one! When sourcing milk and cream, I try to stick with the smaller companies. They typically don’t ultra-pasteurize because they are more concerned with a quality milk than prolonging shelf life. I hope this hasn’t put you off and that you keep trying. When it works out it’s awesome – I promise!

              As for your ultra-sour cream cheese, maybe you should try adding some strawberry jam to it. I’ve often seen strawberry-flavored cream cheese on the shelves, but it’s usually been way too sweet. Perhaps mixing your cheese with jam or fresh strawberries macerated in sugar could cut the sour and strike some balance in your spread.

          • Angel
            November 7, 2011 at 11:36 pm

            I did some searching, and it looks like others have used cream from http://www.harmonyorganic.on.ca/ and it’s worked. There is a store locator on the website, but I’m not sure if it’s near you.

    2. James R
      December 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      Well I tried this recipe again with Hewitt’s cream. Hewitt’s is the dairy that produces Harmony Organic. Their non-organic cream is also pasteurized to minimum specs (72C, I think). This time I had much better luck, it worked just as the recipe says. Thanks for all your help Angel.

      By the way, I did use the cheese from my difficult batch in a cheesecake. It turned out awesome, so I’m pretty happy.

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