When we got our first family milk cow, Buttercup, I tried making many different types of cheese, after all, we were suddenly getting about 6 gallons of milk a day! Yes, we have a large family but even the 7 children still at home could not drink that much milk!
Thankfully, I knew before we brought Buttercup home the quantity of milk she was producing. But, “knowing” and “seeing” are two different things! Seeing 6 gallons of milk put into the refrigerator each day was exciting but also anxiety producing! We had purchased Buttercup to save money – even buying her feed and hay, I saved money with the dairy products I made, not to mention we were getting much better quality! If milk went bad and had to be thrown out, there went my savings!
So, knowing that I would be making cheese, I purchased from my affiliate partner, Home Cheese Making several weeks before bringing our new cow home. I decided to work through the book beginning with the soft cheeses since they require less time, don’t have to age and can be eaten immediately. Among some of the soft cheese made were Cottage Cheese, Feta Cheese and Ricotta Cheese. Another was Cream Cheese and like the others, I think you will be surprised at just how easy it is to make.
The following recipe is also the recipe for marscapone which is very similar to cream cheese but, for me, this recipe yields better and more consistently. More about marscapone in a moment.
As the name implies, cream cheese is made with cream, not milk. So, it didn’t really help use up milk but it was neat that I could make our own with so little effort. But, I tend to go in spurts with recipes – making them for awhile and then moving on. That is what happened with Cream Cheese, I don’t have too many recipes which call for it and I sorta, well, just moved on.
In sharing many of my soft cheeses with you, I was reminded of Cream Cheese and especially when a son had a birthday. It is our family tradition that the birthday person chooses the menu for the birthday party. When our son, who was turning 11 years old, picked a dish containing cream cheese, I knew it was destiny and made my own!
Homemade Cream Cheese can be allowed to drain for a longer period of time to achieve a dryer texture or not so long to be creamier. Cream Cheese can also be substituted for marscapone which is used in one of my favorite Italian desserts, Tiramisu. I can tell almost no difference between cream cheese and marscapone although some say that marscapone tends to be a bit sweeter. I used marcapone when we lived in Switzerland for Tiramisu and other desserts but had trouble finding it once we moved back to the States. So, I substituted cream cheese successfully!
As I said earlier, this recipe is the same for marscapone found in many books. For me, it consistently yields better with more consistent results than other cream cheese recipes. Plus, it even works with ultra-pasteurized cream – I know because I accidentally purchased it once and tried it anyway!
Be sure to read Cheese Making Basics for further tips, equipment and suppliers.
Makes about 1 pound
2 quarts cream
2 packets direct set créme fraíche starter (available from my affiliate: créme fraíche starter)
Heat the cream to 86 F and turn off the heat.
Add starter culture and mix thoroughly.
Cover and allow to sit for 12 hours at room temperature.
For a thicker consistency, line a colander with cheesecloth and place curds into colander. Allow to drain for several hours in the refrigerator until the desired consistency is reached.
Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container.
This will keep for about a month.