Thinking about making your own cheese? This is a great one to start with! It only takes a few ingredients and some little time to can make your very own homemade Cream Cheese From Scratch!
What's at the heart of from-scratch cooking? Cheese, of course! One of the easiest cheeses you can make yourself is homemade Cream Cheese From Scratch! It takes just a few ingredients and you can have the creamy dreamy perfect bagel pairing rich cheese.
- Whole Milk - For this, you really want "regular" milk from your favorite grocer. Farm fresh (straight from the cow) and ultra pasteurized milk don't quite work for this recipe.
- Half and Half and Heavy Whipping Cream - This is what adds the "cream" to the cream cheese.
- Lemon juice - Fresh is what we always use, but a bottled juice is totally fine, too!
- Salt - Kosher is always our preferred for cheese making because it is the purest form of salt.
Ok, so I know that ingredient list is expensive. You can totally just use a gallon of whole milk, too but that will make really more of a Ricotta Cheese. What separates Ricotta from Cream Cheese? Cream. By using the heavy cream and half and half, you will get a much richer tasting, creamier cheese.
You can also cut the recipe down a lot to make a smaller batch - see recipe notes.
How to Make:
- Add milk, cream, and salt to pot and slowly heat
- Bring to simmer
- Add lemon juice and give a stir.
- Let simmer and then remove from heat
- Line a colander with a cheese cloth
Tip: Definitely make sure you have a big cheesecloth that you use covers the sieve or colander fully.
- Scoop / Pour curds into the the cheese cloth.
- Gather ends of the cheese cloth and let drain.
Tip: We've let this drain as little as 1-2 hrs and as much as 24. If leaving it out to drain more than 3-4 hrs, let it drain in your fridge or in a very cool place.
Once it's drained, you have a super creamy, delicious cream cheese from scratch! Who known homemade Cream Cheese From Scratch was so easy!
Tips for Making Cream Cheese:
- Keep the ratios of milk to cream and half and half. You can use just milk, but if you want to use cream and half and half, keep to these ratios.
- Rinse your pot with cold water, first. This will help with the clean up after!
- Don't heat too fast! You don't want to burn the milk.
- Make sure you have a good cheese cloth. Be sure that it's one that's wide so when you line your sieve or colander so that you have enough room to gather it all to hang to drain.
- You can do a mixture of a scooping the curds out and then pouring the contents in - but the most liquid poured directly into the cheese cloth will mean more draining time. Also your cloth will likely not fit all of the liquid at once and would need to be poured in batches. Patience is key. Take your time.
- Hang it for faster draining. You can just let it drain while in the sieve/colander, but gathering the edges of the cheese cloth and suspending it will help it all drain faster. Plus, doing this will allow you to gently squeeze the cloth a bit to release liquid faster.
Now that you have this Cream Cheese, you can make this amazing Cream Cheese Frosting From Scratch!
If you overheat your milk, you'll end up with a kind of gritty cheese. It'll be smooth but it will have a grainy texture because the protein is denatured.
Totally. I think that it's a little less creamy and will make a cheese that's more like ricotta, but just using milk is still delicious!
We find the best results with 10 hrs. but if you want a looser, wetter cheese, then drainer for a shorter period.
It's best to use this cheese within a week of making it.
Yes, you can. However, it will change the texture. So it wont be great for spreading on bagels, but it'll be great for baked goods. Just be sure to wrap it in foil and store in freezer for up to 2 months.
Cream Cheese From Scratch
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 quart half and half*
- 2 quarts heavy cream*
- 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Line a large sieve or colander a large cheesecloth and position over the sink or over a large bowl or pot if you plan to use the whey later. Be sure that your cheese cloth hangs quite a bit over the edges of the sieve - plenty for gathering when you drain.
- Rinse a large pot with cold water. Add milk / creams and salt to the pot and heat over medium heat. Bring it all to a gentle simmer. Give the pot an occasional stir to ensure it's not burning.
- Stir in the lemon juice and continue to simmer gently for a minute or two. Curds will begin to form and float to the top. They'll wont be as firm as curds from mozzarella, they'll be softer and cloud like. Once you start to see them form, turn off heat and let sit for another minute.
- After a minute or two, using a slotted spoon, gently pull at the soft curds. When it starts to separate from the liquid, you can start scooping into the cheese cloth. You can also give it another minute or two to let the liquid become less cloudy.
- Using a large slotted spoon, gently scoop the soft curds into the cheese cloth. If your curds are very soft, you can use a large spoon and scoop liquid too - it will just take longer to drain. See recipe notes.
- Gather edges of the cheese cloth and suspend over kitchen faucet or just let drain in the cheese cloth lined sieve/colander. You can give the wrapped cheese cloth a gentle squeeze or release some of the whey. See recipe notes.
- Let drain for at least an hour, but time to drain will depend on how well your curds formed and how much of the whey you added to your cheese cloth lined sieve/colander.
- Gently open cheese cloth and turn cheese into a large bowl. If it seems a little loose still, that's ok it will thicken a little more in the fridge.
- Store in fridge for about a week or in freezer for up to 2 months.
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