Learning how to make cream cheese is really simple. If you’re just getting into making your own dairy products at home, I recommend starting with simple projects like making your own butter, yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, and cream cheese.
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Cream cheese, butter, and mozzarella are the dairy products that I make huge batches of and stock up on when we have tons of extra milk that we need to use up. And that only happens when we are weaning a calf off of Belle.
Drowning in Milk…Sometimes.
Most of the time, Belle has a calf that nurses on her and we only milk her when we need and want to. That’s roughly 3 or 4 days per week. But when her calf reaches about 6 to 7 months old, we will usually wean it off of her. For us, we put the calf in a separate pasture with other cows. We’ve learned that no matter how old the calf is, and no matter how long it has been weaned off of her, it will go right back to nursing from Belle if given the chance. And she lets them. (She’s sweet like that.)
Milking becomes a daily chore for us after we wean the calf off of Belle. We can’t skip any milking days and the milk REALLY starts to drown us in the house. We have a separate dairy refrigerator in our basement but it doesn’t take long for it to be filled up with half-gallon mason jars of milk. That happens when you bring in close to 14 gallons of milk per week!
Last April and May we only had to milk Belle every day for about 6 weeks before we dried her off. That’s because we dry her off at least 2 to 3 months before she has another calf. But Belle hasn’t been bred back yet and Brownie (her newest calf) is already 3 months old. In order to save our sanity, I believe we will leave Brownie on her quite a bit longer than normal.
So when we are drowning in milk, and especially in the spring when the milk is the richest, that’s when I make a large batch of something every day. I made nearly 38 pounds of cream cheese and we still have plenty in the freezer!
But you don’t have to be a homesteader or own your own dairy cow in order to eat like it. Let me show you the simple steps for how I make cream cheese!
How to Make Cream Cheese
All you need to make your own cream cheese is plain yogurt! I like to use my homemade yogurt but store bought yogurt works just as well.
If you use homemade yogurt, you can control exactly how tangy you let your yogurt…and therefore cream cheese…become. Just shorten the culture time if you want it less tangy, or increase the culture time if you want your cream cheese to be more tangy.
You will need a large fine mesh sieve or colander lined with a flour sack towel, a bowl or other vessel that your sieve or colander can sit in, and a couple flour sack towel pieces that are cut to fit inside some glass storage containers.
It’s optional, but I also like to use a bench scraper to cut pretty blocks of finished cream cheese. I also like to use a mechanical kitchen scale and weigh out my cream cheese so that I can label it correctly. Then I wrap it with plastic wrap and store it in sandwich bags for the freezer.
I had some homemade yogurt and some leftover store bought yogurt in the fridge that I needed to use up. (The store bought yogurt was the starter culture I used to make my homemade yogurt.)
Line your colander or fine mesh sieve with a flour sack towel. Then put that into a bowl or over a large measuring cup as I’ve done below. Next, pour your yogurt into the flour sack towel.
I’m mixing my homemade and store bought yogurt in the example below. There is a texture difference at first because of all the whey I had in my homemade yogurt. However, the texture is identical after all the whey drips out.
Gather the flour sack towel and cover the yogurt. Then stick it all inside your refrigerator for 24 hours to let the whey drip out.
After 24 hours most of the whey will have dripped out of your yogurt.
You can save the whey for other uses and it will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks. Or you can pour it down your sink if you have a septic tank. The live cultures will help you keep your septic system in good working order.
Line a glass storage container with a cut piece of flour sack towel. Then scoop out your cream cheese and put it inside your storage container.
Smooth it out the best you can.
Fold the extra flour sack towel over the cream cheese. The goal here is to have enough flour sack towel to soak up any remaining whey.
Then put your lids on your storage containers, label them, and refrigerate for one week.
After one week, unwrap your cream cheese. It’ll look similar to the picture below. The flour sack towel will be soaked with whey.
Get out your kitchen scale if you’re going to weigh out your cream cheese and get some plastic wrap ready. I like to use the flat end of my bench scraper to cut a nice block but a knife would work well, too.
Once you get your desired weight, wrap up your block of cream cheese with your plastic wrap.
Store your homemade cream cheese in sandwich bags and label them appropriately. They will store in your freezer very well.
You can use your cream cheese exactly as you would use store bought cream cheese. They also make excellent homemade gifts.
I use our homemade cream cheese mostly for cream cheese icing but also in these cream cheese sugar cookies.
Leave a comment if you enjoy making your own homemade dairy products!
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Wow, I had no idea making cream cheese was so simple. I already make homemade yogurt, so now I can’t wait to try this to!
That’s so great!
Next time we get our fresh milk from our local farmer, I will try to make this cream cheese! Thank you for your post!
You’re so welcome!