A true classic with a rich and creamy mouthfeel, Cream Cheese has a soft, mild flavour. While it is widely used in cooking both sweet and savoury dishes, my favourite way to eat this cheese is on a bagel with some garlic jelly or onion jam.
- 2 litres pure cream (do not use a cream with any additives or thickeners)
- 4 drops of calcium chloride, diluted in 2 tablespoons of non-chlorinated water
- Mesophilic soft curd cheese starter culture (see the packet for the amount to add)
- 3 drops of liquid rennet in 2 tablespoons of non-chlorinated water
- Cheese salt to taste (optional)
- Stainless steel pot to place your cream in
- A second, larger pot to place your first pot in, to act as a water jacket, so you can indirectly heat your cream. I use a stock pot set.
- Dairy thermometer
- Stainless steel perforated spoon
- Stainless steel ladle
- Tight weave cheese-making cloth
- Large stainless steel or enamel colander
- Somewhere to hang your cheese to drain
- Place your two litres of pure cream into your pot and heat, using indirect heat, to 22°C. Remove from heat.
- Add your calcium chloride and mix well.
- Add the starter culture and stir well.
- Add your rennet solution to the milk and stir in gently, using an up-and-down motion for one minute, ensuring that the rennet is evenly distributed throughout the milk.
- Cover and let ripen for 12-15 hours. Be sure to keep the pot out of any draft and allow to rest at room temperature without dropping below 22°C overnight.
- The following morning the mixture will have set and will look like thick yoghurt.
- Line a large colander with your tight-weave cheese-making cloth. Carefully ladle your curds into the lined colander and drain for a few minutes. Tie the corners of the cloth together to form a bag and hang, using the string, to drain for a further 12 hours. Remove the cheese from the cloth and place in a bowl. Salt to taste.
- Place the cheese into small moulds and cool in the fridge. Previously used cream cheese and small yoghurt containers work well, so don’t throw them out. Once your cheeses have cooled, they will become firm and you can either leave them as they are or remove them from the moulds and wrap them in cheese wrap. If you do not have cheese wrap, use wax paper and then pop the wrapped cheese into a plastic bag, folded over but not sealed.
This cheese will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. I have found that it is not necessarily cheaper to make your own cream cheese if you have to buy the cream from the store, but the taste is worth the work, even if it does cost just as much. If you have a cow, of course, it is also a money-saving idea.
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