There are several ways to make cream cheese, but this uncooked curd method is the easiest and makes a relatively light cream cheese. Recipe from New England Cheesemaking.
Servings: 1 to 1 1/2 poundsPrep Time: overnight
2 quarts light cream or half-and-half
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter or 4 ounces prepared mesophilic starter
cheese salt (optional)
Bring the cream to room temperature. Pour the cream into a large pot or bowl. Add the mesophilic starter and stir thoroughly. Cover and leave it alone at room temperature for 12 hours. A solid curd will form. (This isn’t the type of cheese where you see a separation of curd and whey–it’s simply a thick, solid curd.)
If your house is not 72-degrees F, it may take longer. Since my house was a little cool, I had to let mine sit for about 15 hours. If it’s not set by 12 hours, don’t worry about it. Just give it a few more hours. When it’s ready, you should be able to put a spoon in the curd and scoop it back. (Similar to the consistency of a firm yogurt.) Line a colander with butter muslin. Pour the contents of the pot or bowl into the colander. Hang and let drain anywhere up to 12 hours. The consistency of your cheese will be determined by how long you let it drain. The longer it drains, the firmer it will be. For a softer, more spreadable consistency, use a shorter draining time.
Place the drained cream cheese in a bowl and dump it out of the butter muslin. Add a teaspoon of cheese salt and mix it in (if desired–you don’t have to add salt at all!). You can also add flavorings now–if you want all your cream cheese to be the same. Or, go ahead and transfer the cream cheese to containers and flavor each container separately for your own homemade variety pack. Leave some space in the container so you have room to mix in herbs and seasonings or fruit. Make cream cheese with chives and onions, nuts and honey, or cinnamon and brown sugar. Add bacon bits or chopped ham. For fruit, I like to use my homemade jams. For a savory cream cheese, add herbs, garlic, onions or other minced vegetables to taste. For a rosemary and garlic cream cheese spread, I add 1-1/2 teaspoons of dried rosemary and 1-1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder plus an extra bit of salt (maybe 1/4 teaspoon) to about six ounces.
Start out adding less and test to taste until it suits you. Remember that flavor will increase as the cheese sits in the fridge, so don’t overdo it with the seasonings.
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