Saturday, 26 September 2009

Further Adventures in Cheese

Yes our adventures in cheese continue this month with cream cheese! My cheesemaking partner Heather of Girlichef and I have been concocting that gloriously creamy spread for what I have to think is only a little more money than buying it in the store. Ok, homemade cheesemaking won't make us rich, but knowing that you have crafted the cheese in your own kitchen with pure ingredients is immensely satisfying, and you can't put a price on that, can you!

For those of you without your cheesy scorecard, I failed twice at mozzarella, made lots of great ricotta, queso blanco, and other fresh cheeses, and now present cream cheese - which I found to be especially delicous on toasted dark rye bread.

My cheesemaking tips
*I use a slow cooker to heat my milk, it is more gentle than a pot and you don't have to babysit the stove.
*I use a probe thermometer with an alarm to let me know when it has reached temperature.
*I bought some plain cotton napkins for straining - multiple layers of cheesecloth is expensive!
*Yogurt must have live cultures
*Raw milk is best... but impossible for me to find here. (I am considering starting up an affair with a dairy farmer so that I can get some...)
Make sure you are aware of health safety dangers if you buy raw milk.

Homemade Cream Cheese
The Home Creamery, Kathy Farrel-Kingsley

6 cups whole milk
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup plain cultured yogurt
1 rennet tablet
1/4 cup cool water (55-60F)

This method for making cream cheese is very easy and relatively quick and gives you creamy, rich-tasting results.

1. Combine milk, cream, and yogurt in a large pot and stir well. Warm to 100F over low heat. Check temperature with thermometer. Remove pan from heat.

2. Dissolve rennet tablet in the water in a small bowl. Add to warmed milk mixture, and stir thoroughly for 3 minutes. Cover and let stand for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until curds are firm and break away from the sides of the pan. The temperature should drop no lower than 85F. If the temperature does drop below 85F, slowly reheat to correct temperature.

3. Cut curds into 2-inch cubes. (I had nothing to cut, no firm curds - but it turned out great anyway) Let stand 15 minutes undisturbed. Line a colander with a double layer of butter muslin. Pour or, using a perforated shallow ladle, spoon the mixture into a lined strainer. Fold the excess cloth over the curds and set the colander in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to drain 8 hours or overnight.

4. Transfer the drained cheese to a clean bowl, season to taste with salt, and stir well. The cheese is ready to be used in flavoured cheese spreads or for cooking.

Store the cheese in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Three little pots of cream cheese are we!
Check out Girlichef's cream cheese post here!