This cream cheese recipe was made using cream cheese starter culture from Cultures for Health, which contains the correct amounts of lactic bacteria and rennet. If instead, you're interested in making cream cheese from your own supply of starter culture and rennet, then the Cultures for Health website has a recipe that indicates how much of each to use.
There are also recipes out there that make cream cheese from combining lemon juice or buttermilk with cream, but you will have better results if you use a starter culture.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Cheesemaking Time: 24 hours
Total Time: 24 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: 1 cup or more of cream cheese
- 2 quarts of whole milk, or 1 quart of whole milk and 1 quart of cream. Do not use ultra-pasteurized milk or cream.
- 1 packet of cream cheese starter culture
- Cheese cloth or butter muslin
- a stainless steel pot
- a wooden spoon
- a thermometer
Gently heat the milk in a stainless steel pot until it reaches 86 F then turn off the heat.
Sprinkle the starter culture packet into the milk and stir a few times with the wooden spoon.
Cover the pot and let the milk culture for 12-18 hours. Cultures for health recommends culturing the milk in an environment that's as close to 73 degrees as possible. The milk will not culture properly in an environment that is too cool.
When the milk has properly cultured, it will have the consistency of loose yogurt. There will probably still be some liquid in the pot as well. This is the whey.
Drape the butter muslin or cheese cloth (double layers) over a colander. Gently pour or scoop the cheese into the colander. Pull the cloth up around the cheese and tie it into a little sack.
Hang the cheese up so it can drain. You can tie it to a wood spoon or ladle and hang it over a deep bowl or pitcher. Cultures for Health recommends tying it to the handle of a cupboard and setting a bowl underneath.
The cheese needs to drain for at least 6 hours, but the longer you let it drain the richer and denser the cream cheese will be. Twelve hours is often the right amount of time. Do not squeeze the cheese to get moisture out; let it drain on its own.
Scrape the cheese out of the cloth and into a bowl. Add salt if desired.
The cream cheese can also be flavored with chopped fresh herbs or anything else you can think of.
Kept refrigerated in an airtight container the cream cheese will keep about one week.
- 1 quart of milk generally yields at least one cup of cream cheese, but it varies
- There are a couple differences between cheese cloth and butter muslin. Cheese cloth has a wider weave, so more liquid drains out, and it can only be used once. Butter muslin has a tighter weave, which is a plus when making soft, fresh cheeses like cream cheese because you'll lose less moisture and ultimately end up with more cheese. Butter muslin can also be washed and re-used.
- This recipe can be attempted with goat's milk, but non-dairy milks such as soy or almond milk will not work.
- If your house is too cool, try culturing the milk in the oven with the oven light on. This creates a slightly warmer environment
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