With all the summer fruits available these days, my mind turns to thoughts of something creamy and delicious to accompany them. It needs to be quick and easy though, as my days are busy and full. How about cream cheese? Cream cheese is so easy to make. And as always, making it from scratch allows you to use the best ingredients and leave out all those fillers and thickeners found in store-bought cream cheese. Remember, avoid ultra-pasteurized dairy products for fermenting. Organic is always a good choice, but many local dairies use organic practices without the organic certification. Do a little research before you buy, to find the freshest dairy available. Now, let's get started.
- 2 quarts light cream or half-and-half
- 1 packet mesophilic starter culture*
*Cream cheese can also be made using a specific Cream Cheese Starter Culture. Follow the instructions that come with the culture, for best results.
1. Take the half-and-half out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, 68-72ºF.
2. Pour the half-and-half into a large bowl. Sprinkle the packet of mesophilic starter culture onto the surface and let it sit for a minute or two to hydrate.
3. Whisk in the starter culture thouroughly.
4. Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight.
5. Once the cream cheese has firmed up, transfer it to a cheese bag or tight-weave cloth to drain. Make a bag out of the cloth by gathering up the corners and tying it. I used a few twist ties and hung my bag from a wooden spoon between two stacks of books. Let the cheese drain for 12 hours.
6. Make sure to catch the liquid in a bowl for another use. This yellow liquid is whey and has lots of uses! I was able to save a full quart of whey from this batch. 7. Once your cheese has drained for 12 hours, scoop it out of the cloth or bag and transfer it to a container with a lid. 8. Refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks...if it lasts that long! And that's it! Making homemade cream cheese is so easy. You'll use it time and time again.