When I first made my batch of cream cheese, I was very surprised at the results. It was very tangy and tasted more like a really good sour cream than anything else. I guess being brought up in a city where food comes from the grocery store had me thinking that cream cheese should taste like the Philadelphia brand cream cheese, which is sweet when you compare the two.
After my initial disappointment, I decided to look up the ingredients of the Kraft version, the first three are acceptable:
1. Milk ingredients (should I assume this means milk and cream??)
2. Bacterial culture
But these two had me wondering:
4. Carob Bean Gum
5. Sorbic Acid (A071D)
Carob Bean Gum, also known as Locust Bean Gum, is a gelling agent derived from the Carob tree. It's also sweet, so it acts as a sweetener in the cheese. But that word "derived" bothers me...how exactly is it derived and what is the final product?
Sorbic Acid is a food preservative, thus the long expiry dates on the products. Homemade cream cheese is good for about a week or so only.
I'm not trying to burst anyone's bubble, both Carob Bean Gum and Sorbic Acid aren't known to be toxic to the system. I just want to try to go the natural route as much as possible. Still though, that Philadelphia cream cheese is good stuff and I'll buy it until I can perfect my own!
Firstly, I decided to try to make the cream cheese again, since the first batch was used as a sour cream with our Mexican dishes. As an experiment, I did two batches, the recipe is exactly the same except I used two different bacterial cultures.
The buttermilk culture batch came out much creamier and less tangy than the mesophilic culture batch. Both still tasted more like sour cream, sigh. I still wanted to make some Philadelphia cream cheese though!
So with all of that in mind, I did a search on the internet to see what others do to make their cream cheese a little more like the Kraft brand and came up with a few ideas. This is what I did.
I took one batch of my cream cheese, added a cup of vanilla yogurt and 2 tsp of salt.
Then I drained it for an hour, wrapped it up and put it in the fridge overnight. It was sweeter, but nothing like Philadelphia brand. I still have to work on this to figure out how to perfect it...but it did make some really good flavoured cream cheeses!
Here is the recipe. In total it takes 2-3 days before you get a finished result because you have to let it sit for many hours, but the whole process is simple:
Cream Cheese (makes about 3 1/2 cups)
- 2 liters of whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride mixed into 1/4 cup cool, filtered water
- 1/8 tsp mesophilic culture or 1/2 tsp buttermilk culture (the buttermilk one was creamier)
- 2 drops double strength rennet mixed into 1/4 cup cool, filtered water
1. Heat the milk, cream and Calcium Chloride slowly in a large pot to 86F, mixing to make sure it doesn't burn or stick to the pot.
2. Add the culture and let it sit for 3 minutes, then stir well, but slowly.
3. Add the rennet and stir well, but slowly for no more than a minute.
4. Cover the pot and let it sit overnight at room temperature (12-15 hours).
5. The next day, check your cheese. If you see it pulling away from the sides of the pot, it's ready to be drained.
6. Line a colander with cheese cloth and ladle the cream cheese into the colander. Let it sit for an hour, keeping the whey for other uses or for your plants (they love it!).
7. After an hour, make a hanging set up, like the photo above. This needs to hang and drain another 8 hours.
8. After 8 hours, transfer the cheese into a container and refrigerate, this will harden it up some. Remember, this is tangy, more like a sour cream, but to each his/her own! :)