Don’t you just love the taste of cream cheese glaze on some fresh raspberry cinnamon rolls? I know I do. Truth is , cream cheese is a bit pricey and in as much as I love it, spending lots of cash every time I wanted some wasn’t ideal for me. I figured it’s high time I learn to make it at home. Not only is it cheaper but you also get whey leftover to use in other things.
I scoured through the internet and landed on a video by Gemma of Bigger Bolder Baking. I’ve since adapted her technique and that’s what I use to make cream cheese at home.
Cream cheese is a fresh and soft type of cheese that’s made from milk and cream. Industrially, cultures are used to coagulate the milk and cream to form curds. However, when making cream cheese at home, one needs either lemon juice or some vinegar eg distilled white vinegar.
The technique is pretty straight forward and you don’t even need a cheese cloth, a fine mesh sieve works well. The chemistry is that once the milk is heated up, the vinegar or lemon juice coagulates the milk proteins which combine to form curds and whey is leftover.
Since one needs milk and cream, ensure the milk you use is whole milk or full fat milk, so no low fat or skimmed milk. You want the cream in the milk.
In a large heavy bottomed sufuria add your milk and bring to a gentle simmer or until some bubbles form on the sides of the pan. Continuously stir the milk as it’s heating up. The stirring keeps the milk from scorching the bottom of the pan.
Once the milk is heated up, reduce heat to low and add the vinegar or lemon juice. Add a tablespoon at a time and stirring in-between the additions.
The milk will start to form curds and that’s what you want.
Keep stirring as you add the vinegar/ lemon juice.
Over time I’ve learnt to work with the ratio of 1 cup milk to about 1/2 or 3/4 tablespoon of vinegar/ lemon juice. Once all the vinegar is added turn off the heat.
Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before handling. Using a fine mesh sieve, sieve the curds. If you have a cheese cloth you can place it on top of the sieve but as I said it’s not necessary to use one.
Allow the whey to cool before bottling and storing. This residual whey is called acidic whey since an acid (vinegar/lemon juice) was used to make the cheese. It works just like buttermilk and can be used in pancake, drop scones and cake batter. I’ve also used it to make chapatis and bread. It’s also good in soups and even boiling pasta and rice. You can also drink it. Yes, endless possibilities.
As for the curds, we are just one step away from lovely silky cream cheese. Here you’ll need a food processor or some serious elbow grease to cream it up.
In a food processor add the curds and a pinch of salt and pulse until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
And there you have it, homemade cream cheese. It can store in the fridge for up to 10 days.
You can use the cream cheese for glazes and frosting, as a spread or even to make cheese cake.
I have to say since I started making cream cheese at home I sorta understand why cheese is expensive. You need so much milk to make such a small about of cheese. For this batch I used 3 litres of milk (12 cups) and that yielded 450grams of curds, imagine.