Many think that cream cheese is Kraft’s branded “Philadelphia Cheese”. In a previous life so did I. It never occurred to me that I could make my own cream cheese at home on the kitchen counter. Once I found out how easy it is I was surprised no one I knew was making their own cream cheese. The difference in taste between mass produced cream cheeses and a home-made cream cheese is astounding. I would be interested to hear if any agree with me or if they think I’m exaggerating! Most commercial cream cheeses – including ones labelled organic – use powdered LABs to ferment their products. To be fair, I think they are obliged to do so by a set of food regulations unable to distinguish between the good, the bad and the ugly. If you make your own cream cheese from home-made clabbered milk or yoghurt you can be sure you’re using wild ferments.
Cream cheese is used in hundreds of recipes and has many different names : fromage blanc in French, kwark in German and plattekaas in Dutch. It is not the same as ricotta though it can have the same texture. Even if you don’t use cream cheese for baking it tastes great as a plain spread on sourdough breads and topped with jam– or you can season it with salt and pepper and add some chopped chives as a savoury spread or dip. It can be sweetened with honey or a bit of sugar and served as a desert alongside strawberries or any summer berry. It is used in cheese-cake recipes and savoury dishes. When the enzyme rennet is added cream cheese forms the basis of many of our favourite cheeses.
Remember not only will your home-made cream cheese taste better than a mass produced version it will be packed with natural, wild microorganisms. I hope once you see how easy, satisfying and versatile it is to make your own cream cheese you will not be tempted to buy a branded version ever again.
1 lt. or 1 pt. of home-made clabbered milk OR
1 lt. or 1 pt. of organic yoghurt
Place a cheese cloth or tea-towel over a sieve and rest on top of bowl and pour your clabbered milk or yoghurt – or indeed any cultured dairy you have – into the cheese cloth.
Tie the cloth and leave to rest from 4-8 hours. The longer you leave it the more whey is removed. The drier the cream cheese the more it resembles a curd. Sometimes it is left to dry for longer so that it crumbles.
After 4- 8 hours you have cream cheese!
Keep the whey for fermented chutneys or to drink with some lime juice and honey.