Homemade Cream Cheese

Homemade Cream CheeseLittle Miss Muffett, sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey.  Who among us doesn’t know that nursery rhyme off by heart?  I must have said that one over and over as a kid, but like the words of the Canadian Anthem in French, I didn’t exactly know what it meant.  What the heck is a tuffet?  And what are curds and whey, they sound utterly dreadful!  Along the way somewhere, I found out what curds and whey were, but they still sounded dreadful.  Clumpy cheese in some sort of watery, milky liquid?  Um, no thanks.  I think I will stick with your basic Cheddars and Monterey Jacks.

It wasn’t until just now that it occurred to me to look up the word “tuffet”.  According to the almighty Wikipedia, it’s a kind of low footstool covered in cloth.  I always imagined it as some sort of outdoor thing, like a little grass-covered mound or the stump of a tree.  I envisioned Little Miss Muffett sitting outside under a tree from which the spider descended.  I’ve read my fair share of English Lit classics and tuffet always seemed to go along with words like “heath” and “moors” and “hillock”.  Words that conjure up images of a lonely, windswept English countryside with a single imposing stone house lording over it.  With turrets, the house must of course have turrets.  Turrets, tuffets…you can see where I am going with this, right?

I am now much more familiar with curds and whey.  I am not about to sit down and eat a bowl of the stuff, but I know what both are and how to use them to advantage.  And I’ve made my own yogurt and my own butter.  It was time to step it up a notch and start making my own cheese.  Which means making my own curds and whey, and then draining the whey away.  A-whey!

I got this bee in my bonnet about a week ago and I googled how to make cream cheese.  I came across a recipe from the Splendid Table and it seemed easy enough, so I gathered my cream, half and half, and milk, and away (a-whey?) we went.  Except that as I was in the middle of it, I realized that the instructions from The Splendid Table were rather vague.  Oh, and it said to gently simmer on medium-high heat.  I don’t know about your stove, but on mine, medium-high usually results in a full boil.  It did come to a boil, which I caught rather quickly and turned the heat down.  I was so unsure of myself in the middle of the process that started looking up other resources.  I found instructions for making ricotta, which said clearly to NOT boil the cream mixture.  Uh oh.  I also was worried that my curds weren’t forming properly so I added some vinegar.  By the time I was scooping out my curds, I was quite certain this wasn’t going to work at all.

Boursin with homemade cream cheese and homemade butter!

But I am happy to report that making cream cheese is quite a forgiving process!  Once the whey drained out, I was left with a beautiful creamy cheese that tasted far better than any storebought version.  I can’t believe how well it worked and I’ve corrected the instructions to reflect what I did, so that you can have the same results.  This stuff is so good and it makes quite a lot (I think I got about 1 1/4 lbs of cream cheese out of the deal).  We’ve been spreading it on everything.  My husband used some to make his wonderful Boursin (recipe here) and I used a large amount of it to make some gorgeous mini pumpkin cheesecakes (recipe to come in a few days).  And it was so easy, I am not sure I will ever buy cream cheese again.

Mini Maple Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Homemade Cream Cheese

Yield: About 1 3/4 pounds cream cheese (28 ounces)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar

Instructions

  1. Line 2 medium sieves with cheesecloth or cotton tea towels and place over bowls.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, half and half, milk and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and simmer gently.
  3. Stir in the vinegar and continue to simmer until cream mixture separates and curds appear and float to the top. Curds will begin to clump together.
  4. Remove from heat. Scoop out curds with a slotted spoon and divide between lined sieves. When you are getting to the bottom of the pan and it's hard to scoop them out, feel free to pour all of the mixture into the sieves.
  5. Let drain until whey is removed, at least 4 hours. This is faster if you divvy the curds up into two sieves, as opposed to one. You can also hang the cheesecloth/tea towels filled with curds to encourage it to drain faster.
  6. Once curds have the consistency of room temperature cream cheese, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  7. Keeps for about 1 week.

Notes

The carbs are difficult to calculate because many are in the whey that is drained off. But it would have no more than store bought cream cheese, about 1 or 2 g per 1 ounce serving.

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Comments

  1. I can’t wait to try this! Is there a recipe around for the mini cheesecakes?

  2. How great is this? It has never once occurred to me in life to make my own cream cheese, until now.
    Or ever once consider wiki’ing a “tuffet”. Love that!

  3. Carolyn… well, my mind is blown! I’m a bagel and cream cheese (and lox) guy, so I am going to have to give this a try!

  4. WOW! Just wow! ;) Love your musings as well.

  5. Honestly Carolyn, it has never occurred to me to try this. I bet it’s SO good fresh!

  6. So, do you think this would work with coconut cream which is 16% fat? I have to be dairy free and so far haven’t found a substitute?

  7. DO you refrigerate while draining? This sounds great. Thnx

  8. Linda Wenger says:

    How is this different than making ricotta, which I have done for making my husband’s favorite pancakes? Is the difference in the fat content of the half and half and heavy cream, or just in the boiling? My ricotta isn’t as dense as cream cheese.

    • The Splended Table says it’s the fat content that makes the difference. When I first scooped out the curds, it reminded me of ricotta but as it drained it got much thicker and heaveier. And it ended up creamy, unlike ricotta.

  9. I love making homemade ingredients like this. Amazing!

  10. Ahh, I am so excited about this! I’m definitely going to make this one–I love cream cheese and I can just imagine how good it tastes homemade.

  11. Oh I just love this post!! haha

    I am so excited to see this! I have always wanted to try and make cheese at home. I wonder if there is a way to make it lower calorie and fat?? hmmm, wheels turning away (a-whey?) ;-)

  12. Does it have to be white vinegar? Would it work with a flavoured vinegar? Might that impart a flavour?

    • It needs to be an acid, but I found lemon juice wasn’t strong enough. A flavoured vinegar would be fine but might impart some flavour.

  13. Oh my goodness! Who knew this was so easy!! I have been wanting to try homemade ricotta and now this is going on my list!

  14. Thanks. I would love to try this. I am just wondering what half and half is. I am from New Zealand and we don’t have that. We may have something similar under another name, Is it milk with a certain fat percentage?

    • Hi, Carmen! Half and Half is what we put in coffee here. It’s Grade A Milk and Cream, but I know it’s not technically ‘half’. Of course, that also probably depends on if you’re using heavy cream or light cream. When I run out of Half n Half, I mix about one third heavy cream and two thirds whole milk. That comes out creamier than usual.

  15. This is brilliant!

  16. Love your recipe & have been enjoying your site so I’m nominating you for my Food Stories Award. I know some bloggers don’t participate in blog awards but I hope you’ll at least check it out because mine is unique in the fact that it is only given to food sites and all the nominees are in the running for the monthly award and prize. If you’re interested, you can check out the details at my site, FoodStoriesBlog dot com and then click on “Food Stories Award” up in the top navigation bar … Either way, love your site and I hope you’re having a great foodie day!

    • Scottee Meade says:

      I would love to try this, but I use raw milk and cream. What is the point of using cream AND half and half AND milk? Is it to achieve a specific fat content?
      Also, the whey is great to use in so many ways, so it shouldn’t just be discarded.

      • Yes, it is to achieve a specific fat content. Where do you get your raw milk and cream? I wish I could find some near me. If I were you, I’d just do another cup of cream and another cup of milk for this recipe.
        I know the whey is useful, but I didn’t have any recipes with which to use it at the time, so I just let it drain out. I’ve made muffins and such before. The thing for me is that the whey is where the majority of the carb are so it’s not all that useful for me, personally :)

  17. love this!

  18. Deena @ stay at home FOODIE says:

    I am definitely trying this!

  19. Hi! It’s been a little while since I’ve visited your blog, and it looks amazing! I love the remodel. And the homemade cream cheese recipe. I’m definitely trying it.

  20. Love the opening of the post brings back memories and invokes thoughts. Love cream cheese with bagels and your homemade version looks phenomenal!

  21. You go, girl!!! Your hubby’s homemade boursin looks fantastic! Brava on making your own cream cheese…who knew it could be done so easily????

    PS…I used your yummy roasted tomato soup for a guest post on Tuesday. Loved it!

  22. Homemade cheese of any kind is always on my menu…I love the look of this…I’ve made mascarpone before, but this looks at least a little bit lower in fat. And my hips could use the help. :) Theresa

  23. Wow, what a fun project! I totally want to make this now!

  24. I will have to give your method a try. I made it using a cheese culture, I like how yours can be made without having to get some supplies at a cheese making specialty store. Love the homemade cream cheese though, lovely taste and texture.

  25. Fantastic! I’d love to try this – I’ve made mozzarella and ricotta over the past year or so, this would be a great next cheese to try. :-)

  26. Isn’t amazing that everyone is amazed at this? People would have thought nothing of this until the start of the 20th century when everything went mechanized and commercial. Are we really so “advanced”?

  27. Carolyn this is so cool. I would never have thought to make my own. You amaze me.

  28. I don’t know if I missed it but can you tell me how long it takes on the simmer heat before you see curds? I am not sure if I have done this correct. I actually have a pot on the stove as I write this!

    • I didn’t specify how long because it depends so much on the heat of your stove. Stick a spoon in and drag some up from the bottom. You should see it look like milk that has gone bad and is kind of lumpy, with some milky liquid around the lumpiness. Then I’d say give it a few minutes longer, even up to 5 or 10 minutes, (without boiling).

  29. Seems simple enough…I make my own yogurt, why not take it a step further and try my hand at making cream cheese?

    Pinned, shared on Facebook and adding to my MMM Must-Make-Monday series :)

  30. Wow. Cannot wait to try this one!!
    Can you suggest a substitute ingredient for what you call “half and half” as we do not have this in the UK…?
    Thank you!
    Mrs Wibbs

    • Half and half is simply half milk, half cream. So take the amount and split it between milk (whole milk) and cream.

      • Ah ok….. Is that all “half and half” is?!? If so, why do people BUY that stuff???! You don’t have to answer that! Thank you for the reply.
        Guess I’ll be making cream cheese this week end!

        • It’s homogenized, so it stays together, without the cream separating out. And you don’t get an oily film on the top of your coffee :)

  31. Hi Carolyn,
    Sounds great, I’m going to try it. DON’T throw your whey out though. It’s awesome to use in place of water when making bread or in protein shakes; anything really. It is chock-full of protein… lots. Have a great day :-)

  32. Can you freeze this cream cheese?

    • Honestly, I am not sure. Most cream cheese gets a bit of a strange texture after freezing, a bit clumpy, and I think this probably would too, especially as it has no fillers or preservatives.

  33. I have terrible reactions to the stabilizers used in commercial cream cheese (carrageenan, guar gum, locust bean gum) so haven’t been able to eat cream cheese in YEARS, which is devastating because I love it. I was so excited about finding this recipe, I went out and bought the cream (another challenge: finding cream without the stabilzers), came home, and went right to work. It’s now draining in bowls on my counter. I’m excited beyond excited to taste the results! I didn’t want to use a cheese with rennet, or one using a culture. Of all the recipes I searched, this was the right one for me. THANK YOU!

    • So glad, Lori! We actually just made another round of it this weekend, and it worked beautifully. It’s so creamy and slightly sweet, and the only ingredients are cream, milk and some vinegar!

  34. Tammy Allen says:

    It worked! I, like you, was concerned I had done something wrong, but low and behold, I now have cream cheese. I’m going to use your husband’s boursin recipe for dinner party tonight.

  35. Can i use this homemade substitute of heavy cream to make this cream cheese?? Please help..

    • No, I am sorry, I don’t think that would work very well at all. The flour would really gum up in the cream cheese.

  36. Hey, I’ve seen the ingredient half n half around in many recipes but I’ve no idea what it actually is and I doubt they have it where I love, could there be a substitute for it?
    Great recipe by the way! Could this be turned low fat?

    Thanks a bunch for your amazing recipes

    • Carolyn says:

      Hi Asma – half n half is basically half cream/half milk, meant for coffee and other hot drinks. It’s homogenized so it doesn’t separate. YOu could easily take that quantity and do half cream and half milk and get the same thing for the cream cheese. I am not at all sure about making this low fat, though. The consistency relies on the fat content…but you could probably give it a go. Try a half batch and see if it works. In reality, it will be Neufchatel cheese.

  37. Can you taste the vinegar in the finished product & does it work well for cheesecake?

  38. Lori Dukes says:

    How much cream cheese does this make? What size container should I expect to use.
    Really excited to try this.

    • It makes about 1 pound of cream cheese, I think.. Since I actually have some draining right now, I will weigh it out and let you know once it’s completely done. I use a medium sized tupperware, something that holds 3 cups or so.

    • Okay, so turns out that it made almost 2 full pounds of cream cheese! 1 lb and 11 ounces.

  39. I love your recipes and this looks great but what is the carb content wonder because you posted the fact that it is made with whole milk and half n half and the like. Thanks Sandy!

    • Hi Sandy…keep in mind that the majority of the whey from the whole milk gets drained out, and that’s where all the carbs are. So I estimate that the carb count is similar to store bought CC, but maybe less because I don’t add in any fillers like carrageenan. So I think 1-2 carbs per 1 ounce serving.

  40. Oh and on this note what about making ricotta is this possible would love to know how to make a lower carb ricotta for an eggplant recipe I want to try to convert to low carb…

  41. About how much cream cheese will this recipe yield? 8 ounces? 16 ounces? I’d love to try it.

    • Carolyn says:

      It makes a lot. I weighed it last time and the full recipe makes about 1 pound, 12 ounces of cream cheese. 28 ounces!

  42. Ashley j says:

    Can you freeze this??

  43. do you think this would turn out using only half and half?

    • It should, since it’s made from whole milk and heavy cream. But there might be something in the homogenization of half and half that affects it. Try a half-batch and see!

  44. Isn’t this priceythough? On sale, Philly cream cheese is two for three dollars Am I missing something?

    • Carolyn says:

      Do as you wish. I enjoy making my own and knowing I am getting real cream cheese, without additives.

      • Oh, no, don’t get me wrong, I’m with you on wanting to know what’s really in your food! Just curious how much per pound you would spend to make it, is all… I want to try it now!

        • Carolyn says:

          I have a local creamery where I can buy a half gallon of cream for $7 so that helps. If you can source less expensive cream, I think this would be somewhat more expensive but not wildly so. A whole recipe of this makes more than a pound of cream cheese and you use milk and half and half too.

  45. Veena Ramachandran says:

    This may sound strange to you but back in India, “curd” exclusively means yoghurt. Haha. It’s so funny how there are these little differences across the globe. : )

    Homemade cream cheese sounds SO Healthy and delectable!

  46. Hello!

    What could be used in place of the half and half?

    Thanks!

  47. MemphisBelle says:

    I am lactose intolerant and I was wondering if I can use Lactose Free Whole Milk? If yes, do I use the same amount of liquid as stated in your recipe? Thank you.

  48. Hi Carolyn, I’m so excited to try this. Thank you so much for sharing. I’m new to you blog and it looks wonderful.

    My question is, does this cream cheese freeze well for future use?

  49. I don’t know, as I haven’t tried it. I find most cream cheese gets a little crumbly after being in the freezer, and I suspect this might as well. If you do it, make sure to wrap it REALLY well to keep out the air.

  50. Tammy Allen says:

    P.S. you “can” freeze cream cheese, but the structure changes dramatically, but can still be used in recipes.

  51. Not just cream cheese…All of the cheeses I’ve tried freezing get a bit crumbly which is fine if you want to crumble them but not so fine for slicing or shredding.

  52. Yes, I’ve found the same thing, that freezing changes the structure of cream cheese. I haven’t tried freezing my own and since it has no fillers, I suspect it might change the structure even more! But it’s worth it rather then letting it go to waste!

Trackbacks

  1. […] new mini cheesecake pan from Norpro that I’d been dying to use for a while, and I had some fresh homemade cream cheese that was just screaming to be baked into a cheesecake.  I also had some fresh whole cream and some […]

  2. […] Homemade Cream Cheese by All Day I Dream About Food. Seems easy enough. I make my yogurt, why not take it a step further and try my hand at making cream cheese? […]

  3. […] from slaughtered, unweaned calves), I decided to go the vinegar route, and used a recipe from the All Day I Dream About Food blog, (originally sourced then modified from a Lynne Rosetto Kasper of the Splendid Table […]

  4. […] after all!  And of course, I am more than happy to oblige with the recipe.  Having made my own homemade cream cheese, I knew that homemade mascarpone was possible.  I came across a number of instructions online, all […]

  5. […] from slaughtered, unweaned calves), I decided to go the vinegar route, and used a recipe from the All Day I Dream About Food blog, (originally sourced then modified from a Lynne Rosetto Kasper of the Splendid Table […]

  6. […] You can find a link to the original recipe here. […]

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