For a while, I’ve wanted to make sourdough bagels, the main reason being the recipe and procedure I’m about to share. I don’t really make cream cheese, rather Neufchatel: All the flavor and far fewer calories, something I can appreciate at my age!
Cream cheese – I’ll call my Neufchatel that throughout this post – is very easy to make, an excellent starter cheese. It’s a lactic cheese – acid developed over about 24 hours is the primary coagulation method but it’s helped along by just a bit of rennet. It requires a couple of things you might not have, a starter culture and rennet. I use milk and cream from the supermarket, calcium chloride from my brewing supplies.
The process takes two full days, one to ripen the milk and another to drain the coagulum – the jelly-like stuff that forms due to acid and rennet action on the milk. So I’ll split the post into two parts.
Here’s what you’ll need to make the cheese:
- Some kind of sanitizer. I use Star San because I have it and it’s easy. A dilute bleach solution works well, too.
- A pot large enough to hold a gallon of milk and a pint of cream with room for stirring
- A spoon to stir with
- A way to heat the milk without scorching it. I use the stovetop on low heat, you may want to use a water bath or some other way.
- Measuring spoons down to 1/8 tsp (or eyeball using a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon)
- A large colander capable of holding a gallon and a pint
- About a half square yard of butter muslin (best) or fine cheesecloth (okay)
- A way to hang the cheese in the butter muslin to drain
- 1 gallon whole milk. I use the cheap stuff from King Soopers.
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream. I use the cheap stuff for this as well.
- 1/4 tsp 30% (by weight) calcium chloride solution. You can buy this or mix it up yourself if you have food-grade CaCl2 around.
- 1/8 tsp Mesophilic Aroma B starter. I’ve used 1/4 tsp Flora Danica starter but the cheese didn’t come out as good.
- 3 drops double strength rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool, non-chlorinated water.
- 1/2 tsp salt. Since there’s no further ripening of this cheese, either iodized or plain salt will do.
Here’s how you make the cheese:
- Sanitize everything. You’re working with milk and know how quickly it can spoil, microbes like it that much.
- Heat the milk and cream to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir in the calcium chloride solution as the milk is warming.
- Sprinke the starter over the top of the milk. Let it rehydrate five minutes. Then stir in.
- Prepare and add the rennet solution. Stir into the milk for one minute. Let the milk stand at room temperature for 18-24 hours. I usually let it go 24. I’m sure there’s a way to measure the pH to know when the proper acidity has been reached. I never have tried to find out.
That’s it for Day 1 of the process. More to come tomorrow….