Cream cheese is super easy to make — anyone can do it!
There are several methods to making cream cheese. The cooked curd method involves heating on the stove top and a few extra ingredients, but it will produce a drier cheese that is more similar to store-bought varieties. The method below is ridiculously simple, but it has a creamier, more whipped consistency. Both have the flavor of cream cheese we all love!
2 quarts half and half or light cream
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
Salt and seasoning to taste (optional)
Sterilize all equipment, working space and butter muslin (butter muslin can be machine washed and then sterilized in a pot of boiling water).
Bring the half and half or cream to room temperature — 72°.
Note: I know that 72° is quite warm for this time of year. If your house is kept within 2-3 degrees of 72, that should be fine, it just may take a few extra hours to set. Otherwise, I would recommend adjusting your thermostat for this one day.
When the cheese is room temperature, stir in the starter thoroughly.
Allow to set at room temperature for 12 hours, more if your home is much colder than 72°.
After cheese has set, pour curds into a colander lined with butter muslin.
Tie corners of muslin together and hang from a spoon set across the sink or a bucket.
Allow to drain for up to 12 hours until cheese has stopped dripping and reaches desired consistency.
Mix in salt and any seasonings to taste. I love onion and chive cream cheese. Various fruit jams would also be delicious for those of you who enjoy sweet cream cheese.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a post on what I made with my cream cheese!