Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cream Cheese Recipe and "Philadelphia" Cream Cheese

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
3. Salt
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! :)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Some Lessons Learned...Wasted Cheddar! Baby Swiss Update

Need I say more????

This orange coating is HORRENDOUS. I really cannot believe that anyone actually likes this crap. When we opened our first Cheddar before Halloween, it smelled like nail polish remover. We removed the horrible orange coating, cut a third of the cheese off (the thick rind) and let it "air out" for SIX days...it still smelled and tasted like the coating. My very first Cheddar that I made on July 28th is now in the trash.


I had to make the sad decision to throw away this beauty too. This was the second wheel of Cheddar that I made in August. It was supposed to age for 6 months and be ready for Valentine's Day. I already know what it's going to smell and taste like, so why prolong the agony right? Sigh.

DON'T EVER USE THIS COATING PEOPLE!!! Don't let the cheese making supply shops convince you otherwise unless you like plastic-chemical tasting cheese. I nearly cried when I threw this out.

That is a lesson learned and I'm SO GLAD I didn't coat any of my other cheeses with this foul thing. I'm not giving up on Cheddar, I'm just going to age it more naturally in hopes that it'll turn out without any chemical odours and flavours. On to other lessons...

My Baby Swiss has been drying in the cheese cave, uncovered, for the last month. Every day I flip it and brush off any mould that has formed. You can see some tiny little dots of mould on the cheese. Here is another lesson I learned. It will be challenging to make a pressed cheese without the proper mold and cheese press. 

It took me about half an hour this morning to poke out all the mould from my cheese, and I'm sure I didn't get it all. I'm about to diss a well-loved company so be prepared. The New England Cheese Making company offers so many free recipes on their site; with a list of ingredients to buy. I'm not the first person to claim that their recipes are badly written on the site. I'm also not the first to report that cheeses made from their recipes taste nasty (my Colby). Just check out the cheeseforum.org and it's full of disappointed cheese makers who have used those recipes. And people who are frustrated by the lack of help and response when you email them.

The company claims that you don't need fancy molds and expensive cheese presses to get great results. Hmmm...not true at all. I didn't have the right mold for the Baby Swiss and it's really too thin. I didn't have an expensive cheese press, I had to use weights and cans and it's full of cracks and holes - ripe areas for mould to just dig in - something I found out this morning. I know that the inside of these cracks are full of mould, but I can't pick apart the entire wheel of cheese, I just have to hope for the best. We shall see. Ideally this should be a smooth texture with the holes on the INSIDE. What can you do? I guess I was mislead. But I'm still learning all about cheese making and I can only go up from here.

I forced a smile to try and change my mood today. It's tough though, failed curd cheese...failed cream cheese...failed Cheddars (because of that awful coating)...now it looks like I might have a failed Baby Swiss because I didn't have the right equipment. Sigh Sigh Sigh...Alex gave me his John Muir outback hat because the band makes his head itchy. I like it, it gave me a photo op this morning to try to turn my frown upside down lol! Okay, I've done better at smiling, but this is a good start lol! :)