Making your own Cream Cheese From Scratch is a lot easier than you’d think!
In honor of our homemade bagels, of course we had to try making our own Cream Cheese From Scratch. ‘Cause what’s a bagel without cream cheese?
Ok, I say that now but embarrassing confession: the first time I had a bagel with cream cheese was when I was 17, a senior in high school, and the only reason I tried it then was because the girls in my AP English class were horrified when they heard I’d never eaten it before and made me eat one right then and there. And I loved it. I’d never had cream cheese on a bagel before in my life, because like my other weird (former) dislikes for salmon, mayo on sandwiches, and peanut butter and jelly (despite never having them either), I had the same feelings towards cream cheese. I just decided I didn’t like it. I ate bagels plain. Sometime with butter. But mostly dry and plain. I know, such a weirdo.
Even now, I’m not a huge bagel fan which means we rarely ever have cream cheese in the house. But after our Vegas trip that sparked a hankering for bagels, it also sparked a hankering for cream cheese with said bagels. Making the bagels, no problem. We’re getting pretty good at bread making, but cream cheese from scratch? I had no idea. It wasn’t even on our homemade cheese hit list; it’s a cheese I’ve never really thought about.
- Whole Milk
- Half and Half
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Lemon juice
Ok, so I know that ingredient list is expensive. You can totally just use a gallon of whole milk, too. Personally, I think that the Cream Cheese From Scratch comes out creamier and richer with the mixture of the half and half and cream, but still works with whole milk.
Sieve or colander
How to Make:
- Add milk and creams to pot and heat
- Add salt and bring to simmer
- Once it comes to a simmer, add lemon juice and give a stir.
- Let simmer and then remove from heat
- Line a colander with a cheese cloth
Definitely make sure you have a big cheese cloth that covers the full sieve or colander.
- Scoop curds into the the cheese cloth / pour them in.
- Gather the ends of the cheese cloth and let it drain for at least 6 hrs.
Tips for Making Cream Cheese:
As we’ve all learned at some point in our lives, science is hard. And that’s all that cheese making is, science. Some things to keep in mind though:
- 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.
- Don’t heat too fast! You don’t want to burn the milk. This is why it’s so key to have a good thermometer and keep a good eye on it.
- 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.
- Do a mixture of a scoop of the curds and then pour and drain is ok! But patience is key. Take your time. Add slowly, drain slowly, patience is a virtue.
- Let it drain! Allow the time to let it drain.
We let ours drain over night.
Once it’s drained, you have a super creamy, delicious cream cheese from scratch! Who know Cream Cheese From Scratch was so easy! Thanks, Lynn Rossetto Kasper!
Now that you have this Cream Cheese, you can make this amazing Cream Cheese Frosting From Scratch!
Cream Cheese From Scratch
- 1 quart of whole milk
- 1 quart of half and half*
- 2 quarts of heavy cream*
- 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- Line a large colander with a layer of cheesecloth and place in the sink or over a bowl if you want to save the whey. Wet the cheesecloth to hold it firmly in place.
- Over medium-high heat, bring the milk and salt to a gentle simmer in a heavy large pot. Stir in the lemon juice and continue to simmer gently until curds begin to form and float to the top, 1 to 2 minutes. They will first look like spatters of white, then gather into soft, cloud-like clumps.
- When you see the liquid begin to clear of cloudiness and the curds are firming up but not hard, scoop them out with a slotted spoon or sieve. My liquid didn’t really clear and my curds didn’t really firm up so I just poured all of the liquid into the cheese cloth lined colander and a sieve. This seemed to work just as well, but it required draining over night. I let the sieve sit out covered with a cloth napkin and I gathered the ends of the cheese cloth and suspended it on the kitchen sink faucet to drain. My house is kept pretty cool at 55-60 degrees though so I had no problem leaving it out- if your house is pretty warm, I’d suggest suspending them in a cooler place if leaving overnight.
- Let the curds drain thoroughly in the lined colander. If very soft, press gently to extract a little moisture, but take care not to dry out the cheese. Turn into a bowl, cover and chill. Store in fridge up to a week.