I must say I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t know that cream cheese was made from sour cream when I arrived at my two-day cheese making class at the Ploughshare Institute in Waco, Texas. However, I was thrilled to find out how few steps there are in making it!
In my last blog I described how to make sour cream, which is the first step in making cream cheese. The only other step to turning your sour cream into cream cheese is to line a bowl with butter muslin, pour your sour cream into the muslin, tie the ends and hang the sour cream, letting the excess moisture drip into a bowl for 12 hours.
You will want to flip the cheese inside the muslin about 6 hours in just to make sure it is draining properly.
Just refrigerate after draining and you have cream cheese.
I love cream cheese, especially on a bagel with smoked salmon and to me this is a simple cheese worth making!
I wanted to share a couple of equipment notes. In all of the recipes outlined in this cheese making series, you should use stainless steel or glass equipment and make sure all equipment, surfaces and your hands are extremely cleaned and sanitized. There are healthy bacteria in cheese but get the wrong/bad bacteria in there, and your cheese will spoil. I also mentioned butter muslin above, which is actually not the same as cheese cloth. It has much finer holes and is really best for these recipes. It can be washed and reused and according to my instructor, it lasts for years. There are lots of online sources for cheese making supplies that you will need as you venture into making cheese at home but I found one that is pretty comprehensive.
I was pretty excited to make yogurt in my class, because it's a food I would really make at home and use regularly. I know a lot of people who have tried making yogurt and got really poor and inconsistent results, so I was excited to get some tips first hand. I was also thrilled to learn how that I can make yogurt without any special equipment using just what I have already at home.
The most important thing I learned is that the thicker the yogurt starter you use, the thicker your yogurt will be. In essence, your yogurt will never be thicker than the yogurt you start your first batch with. Also, you need to heat the milk to 190 degrees. Most recipes say a lower temp, but if you heat to 190 degrees it helps the yogurt thicken as well.
Here's the recipe we used:
1 gallon whole or skim milk
½ cup cultured plain yogurt
- Heat the milk to 190 degrees.
- Remove from heat and cool to between 115 and 120 degrees. Once cooled, skim the scum off the top and discard.
- While milk is cooling, add the yogurt starter to a clean glass jar with a lid.
- Pour the milk that has been cooled to between 115 and 120 degrees over the yogurt starter and mix just until combined, return the lid and set the jar in a warm spot for 4 to 8 hours or until the yogurt is thick. Try setting bottles of warm water around the yogurt and wrapping a bath towel around them. You can replace with more warm water in the bottles as needed.
- Once the yogurt is done, refrigerate it. You may want to divide the yogurt into smaller jars so that it lasts longer.
Think of it this way: if you have a big jar and you keep dipping spoons in there you have more chance of bacteria getting in the yogurt and it spoiling more quickly. Make sure to save ½ cup to start your next batch with. Be sure to label it so no one eats it!
After you have made your yogurt, you can add whatever you like to it to flavor it: maple syrup, honey, fruit and vanilla are all delicious but a savory yogurt sauce or marinade is always good too. I like to add cucumber, mint, lemon, salt and pepper and put that over grilled fish or chicken. Don't miss my next blog when I will tell you how to turn yogurt into cheese!
If you do make cream cheese at home, smear it on a bagel and top with smoked salmon. As I show you in this The Chopping Block video, smoked salmon is really easy to do on your stovetop!