Friday, November 28, 2008

Cream Cheese Made Easy

Or should this be "Cream Cheese for Dummies"? Hmmmm... nah, then I'd be insulting a very smart lady in Squarebanks working on her PHD with classes like Ice Physics and the like.

This recipe is basically a "How to make curds without rennet and then what to do with the curds", nothing fancy. And the next day you'll be enjoying wonderful cream cheese with chives and smoked salmon on your bagel. Aren't I nice?

BTW, does it surprise you that a bloke who makes his own Worchestershire Sauce also makes his own cream cheese? No, doesn't surprise me either.

This is kinda a variation on curds for cottage cheese, but instead of using buttermilk to separate the curds, I use lemon juice. See, when you use buttermilk and milk --1 part buttermilk to 4 parts regular milk-- you have to be very careful with the temp kept at 82 C or 180 F. With lemon juice you don't have to be so careful, and you don't need nearly as much lemon juice as you would buttermilk.

Notes: when making anything cheesy, make sure you use stainless steel. No aluminium, no teflon coatings. Also, I use full cream milk powder, much cheaper that way. And keep the whey as it makes a great soup base. You can easily sterilise your cloth for the curds by tossing it in boiling water for a minute.

What you need to make 1 and 1/2 pounds of really good cream cheese:

1 gallon (about 4 litres) of whole milk
1/4 cup lemon juice (doesn't need to be exact)
1 bit of sea salt

Isn't that simple!!!! There's a few non-food items you'll also need:

Large thick-bottomed stainless steel pot

A stainless steel slotted flat spatula (you'll find good ones in the barbecue section of your local outdoors shop)

A strainer (metal mesh)

Large hankerchief (cleaned and sterilised) OR a chex cloth (cleaned and sterilised) OR cheesecloth (cleaned and sterilised)

One of them clip on cooking thermometer type thingies (if you aren't good at estimating temp of simmering milk)

Some kind of heat source (I recommend a stovetop, but if you are camping then a campfire will do)

What you do:

Put the milk in your pot. Turn the heat on LOW. As the milk heats, stir it regularly with the spatula making sure to scrap the bottom so the milk doesn't burn to the base of the pot. When the milk gets to 70 to 80 C (158 to 176 F) add the lemon juice. Amazingly enough, curds will start to form! WOW! Just like your magic kit you had as a kid!

Stir with the spatula and MAKE SURE YOU SCRAP THE BOTTOM so the curds don't stick to the bottom of the pot. After a minute of stirring, turn the heat off. The curds will continue to form, no worries.

Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Scrap the bottom of the pot with the spatula so no curds stick to the pot.

Line your strainer with your chex cloth (or whatever you are using) and strain the curds over a bowl (or your soup pot if you are making soup that day and need the whey).


Hmmmm, the whey... If you aren't making soup that day or the next, then put the whey in a freezerable container. I've frozen whey before and it still makes a good soup base. Remember to let the whey cool to room temp before freezing, of course.

Or you can just drink the whey! It's very tasty, trust me.


So what to do with the curds in the cloth lined strainer? Simple, bring the corners of the cloth together and tie them up tight. Then tie two corners of the cloth over your faucet in the kitchen sink. Let it drain overnight.

Obviously, don't run the faucet while the curds are hanging there!

The next day...

Plop the drained curds into a bowl. Add a couple pinches of sea salt. Mix it all together with a spoon, and beat the mix with the spoon until it's creamy.


You now have about a pound and a half of cream cheese that'll keep in your fridge for a week.

Now comes the fun part: THE TASTY ADDITIONS!

At this point I'll usually divide it into four smaller bowls, and add flavourings to each bowl. Perhaps I'll mince up some smoked salmon and add that to a bowl of the creamy goodness. Maybe minced chives in another. Minced fresh tomatoes are always good. So's fresh chopped basil leaves. Minced onion? Why not! Heck, use your imagination! Mix 'n' match!

There's quite a lot of other things to do with the curds and you don't even need a cheese hoop! BTW, it's easy to make your own cheese hoop from a can...

I know many of you from my other blog were expecting something like SHISHKABOB KANGAROO BALLS, but don't worry cus that's coming soon to a theatre near you.


Suzer said...

Ok so I have to is that much better and/or cheaper than Philadelphia?

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Much, much, MUCH better than philly. And cheaper too.