Monday, October 31, 2011

October's Au Lait du Mois: Cream Cheese

I have learned that there are a whole bunch of ways to make cream cheese: the uncooked-curd method, the cooked-curd method, Swiss-style, Creole, French-style, and probably a few more I'm missing. I opted for the easiest way: the uncooked-curd method. The results were absolutely amazing. Of all the Au Lait du Mois I've done so far, this is the one that I'm definitely doing again, and probably soon.

I only let it drain for something like six hours and I didn't chill it at all. Before chilling, it was very light and spreadable, but still rich and creamy. We brought it along with some organic whole wheat artisanal bread to a dinner party. It was a huge success.
This is the bowl after two days in the refrigerator. You can notice two things. First, it's almost empty because it's so awesome. Second, it's very thick and almost crumbly without any whey draining out of it. I don't think you need to let it drain for the whole 12 hours recommended in the recipe. If it's not as thick as you'd like it, just pop it in the fridge. It will harden up to the consistency of a cold brick of Philadelphia cream cheese. But this tastes so much better.

The original recipe called for 2 quarts pasteurized light cream or pasteurized half-and half. Being a glutton, I opted for 2 quarts raw heavy cream from Mother's Market that recently opened in Brea. Yup, you can buy raw milk in grocery stores here. Unfortunately, there are still 11 states where raw milk is illegal and Maryland is one of them. Check out this post from New England Cheesemaking about the Maryland Raw Milk Freedom Riders event.

Cream Cheese: Uncooked-Curd Method adapted from Ricki Carroll's Gourmet Home Dairy Kit
  • 2 quarts heavy cream
  • 1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter or 4 ounces prepared mesophilic starter (I used the buttermilk starter that came with the Gourmet Home Dairy kit)
  • Cheese salt (optional)
  • 2 qt. jar
  • Sieve
  • Bowl
  • Butter Muslin
  • Pour the cream into the jar and bring it to room temperature (72°F). Add the starter and mix thoroughly.
  • Put the cap on the jar and let set at 72°F for 12 hours. A solid curd will form.
  • When 12 hour is just about up, set a sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with butter muslin.
  • Pour the curd into the muslin-lined sieve. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for up to 12 hours, or until the bag stops dripping and the cheese has reached the desired consistency. Changing the bag once or twice will speed the draining process.
  • Place the cheese in a bowl. Add the salt to taste if desired.
  • Place the cheese into small molds and cool in the refrigerator. Once the cheeses are firm, take them out of the molds and wrap individually in cheese wrap.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Previous Au Lait du Mois:

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