It’s possible to learn how make your own cream cheese, says Craftsy.com. And this easy recipe doesn’t require any hard-to-find ingredients or difficult cooking techniques.
If you think it’s not officially cheese without a cheese starter or rennet, one bite of this tangy spread will tell you a different tale. Although the only ingredients are cream, milk, vinegar and salt, the finished flavor is cream cheese all the way.
The most trying part of the recipe is the time commitment: while it requires little active time, the resting times make it a two-day project. So time it out appropriately: if you want cream cheese for brunch on Sunday, start either on Friday or very early on Saturday for best results.
This recipe was adapted from Instructables.
DIY cream cheese
1 liter (1 quart 2 ounces) heavy cream*
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup white vinegar, plus 1 tablespoon (more or less to taste)
Step 1: In a clean, heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the cream, milk, and salt on medium heat, stirring gently but constantly to discourage scorching, until the mixture registers 180 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. The mixture will not come to a boil, but you may feel some gentle bubbling.
Step 2: Once the mixture reaches 180 degrees F, remove it from heat and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the vinegar and stir gently, just to combine. Give the mixture a little taste: if it doesn’t taste as tangy as you would like, add a bit more vinegar (I added 1 tablespoon more). If you prefer it saltier, you can also add more salt.
Step 3: Cover the mixture in the pot with a towel, and let it rest at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.
When you uncover the mixture, you’ll see that there is some separation occurring: a thick curd layer on top, and a thin, watery liquid whey underneath. This is totally normal, though not highly attractive.
Step 4: Place the cheesecloth or cloth in a bowl, and pour the mixture on top. Gather the edges of the cloth to form a sort of pouch (like a cartoon runaway). There will be some dripping of liquid--this is normal.
Step 5: You want to suspend the cheesecloth so that it can drip excess liquid into a vessel. Try a colander that sits over a bowl.
Leave the mixture to drain for several hours or overnight. Keep monitoring the mixture: when it has stopped dripping whey and feels firm, you can remove it from its pouch. Now, you’ve got yourself some amazing cream cheese. Keep it covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
*Pasteurized dairy can be used, but try to use dairy with no added ingredients (many varieties of cream in particular employ thickeners or stabilizers).