Friday, June 18, 2010
Adventures in Cheesemaking: Cream Cheese
A few weeks ago I ordered the mesophilic starter from New England Cheesemaking Supply so I could try my hand at cream cheese.
The recipe appears fool proof. Riki the cheesemaking queen says so. Over at Chickens in the Road it's declared "so easy a child could make it".
I figured it would be a breeze, and it no time I'd be whipping up my own cream cheese on a weekly basis. So I went and got myself some nice local, organic half and half and prepared to make some of what would no doubt be the most heavenly tasting cream cheese ever.
I was puttering around the kitchen, making some mozzarella and once that was finished began work on the cream cheese. It was 9 pm (oops) the cheese is supposed to set for 12 hours, which is fine, but I have to be to work at 7. Ok, so I'd just run home on lunch ( giving it 15 hours to set) and I'd hang it then. Only I got home and what was supposed to be a thick yogurt like curd was still pretty much just cream (with a layer of curd on top). Of course, being in a rush I didn't notice this until I had poured it into the colander lined with cheesecloth. Shoot. Hoping I didn't destroy it, I poured it back into the original bowl, gave it a stir, covered it and went back to work.
I spent some time popping around the internet, looking for someone who had similar troubles. Nope. All I could find was more talk about how easy it was to make. Hmph. About 6pm that night (so 21 hours later!) I decided to just go with what I had and hang it. It was definitely thicker, but I still think it may not have been quite right. Also, my house was at a pretty consistent 72 degrees for most of this time, so I don't think the temperature affected the setting.
I hung the cheese for about 15 hours and when it came out of the cheesecloth it had a frosting type texture.
A few hours in the fridge left it a pretty standard cream cheese texture, maybe slightly thicker.
I did all this last Thursday into Friday. I still haven't eaten it. It's good for two weeks, and I'm thinking I'll just make something with it. The taste (I did try it) is ok. But not heavenly. I'm not sure how to describe it. Kind of like a slightly tangy butter? I'm going to give it another shot, but I'm going to use the cheap store brand (not ultra-pasteurized though, thank you Wegmans!) half and half instead of the pricey local organic (delicious!) half and half. I'll report back on how well it goes next time.
Maybe I'll have my kids make it.