February 1, 2009

Cream Cheese and Whey

(Nourishing Traditions page 87)

The recipe says you need either: 2 quarts piima milk, whole-milk buttermilk, yoghurt or raw milk.

I chose to do raw milk for this version since I had it on hand. I also only used 1 quart instead of two.
Step 1:
Pour 1 qt raw milk into a clean mason jar and put up in a warm cabinet. Leave there for 2-4 days until the whey separates from the milk. This is not the same as the milk separating from the cream as you see in the picture to the left! See the yellowish cream at the top? My top cabinet maintains a consistent temperature of about 75 degrees. This process will work with cooler temps but not if it is too cold.

Step 2:

This is how it looks after 4 days in my cupboard. You will see a clearish yellowish liquid in there. That is the whey!

Step 3:

Now line a strainer with a clean cloth napkin, dishtowel, or cheese cloth and place in a bowl. ** Here's a little tip I read online: If you get the cloth wet (wring it out) before you pour the milk in, this will prevent the whey from being soaked up in the towel. It really does work!

Step 4:

Pour the contents of the mason jar into the covered strainer. See all the frothy bubbles? You know the lactic acid is doing it's job!

Step 5:
Leave in the bowl at room temperature until all the whey drains into the bottom of the bowl.

***OK I deviated from the directions here and put this in the fridge to drain...BIG MISTAKE! I did this after reading advice from someone else online who said this would make the cream cheese more mild tasting. Now I'm wondering if she used yoghurt instead of raw milk...anyhow, when I put it in the fridge the whey went back into the milk and I didn't have just whey straining out. ARG! So...Mayday...mayday..abort. Seeing that this did not work I quickly ground up some flour and mixed this up with it to soak for a batch of pancakes for the next mornings breakfast! Waste not want not, I always say!

Back to Step 1-2:

I woke up one morning to find one of the kids had left out the carton of milk on the counter overnight. So I'm thinking perfect opportunity to try this again! So I pour this into the mason jar and put it back up into my cabinet and it's cozy 75 degrees. Well something weird happened...Now only after 2 days did I see the whey come. In the picture to the left you can see the clear yellowish liquid near the bottom this time. So for some reason the process was accelerated. Maybe it was being in the milk carton...who knows! As you can see this is not an exact science.

Step 3-4 Again:
This time when I poured it in it did not look as bubbly and frothy, but it is still good. Like I said...not an exact science. **Don't forget to get the cloth damp, otherwise a lot of the whey will be soaked up into the cloth instead of in the bowl.

Step 5: Now this time: I left it out at room temperature to drain and I had success! The lovely yellow whey came to the bottom. This should take several hours. Ok...so I have always loved science experiments!

Step 6, yeah...we're progressing:

Once most of the whey stops draining, tie up the cheese in the towel around a big spoon and let it continue to drip until it completely stops. You may need to squeeze it a little.

Step 7:
Now you have the whey with all the great lactic acid for all your soaking and fermenting fun!! And your cream cheese! Now I must tell you that this cream cheese does not taste ANYTHING like the cream cheese you buy in the store. It has a sour taste that I would describe as yeasty. An acquired taste to be sure. I would definitely not use this for recipes in desserts. Now in a dip with lots of garlic and spicy things...it would work.

Step 8:
The NT book says to store the whey in a mason jar and the cheese in a covered glass container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month and the whey for about 6 months.

Starting with 1 quart of milk, I ended up with 2 2/3 Cup of whey and 1/2 Cup of cream cheese (7 oz wt.) The resulting products cost me...hmmm let's see here...$6 for the gal of milk by 4 = $1.50. Not bad considering this is raw, organic, and you can't buy whey anywhere!

I think next time I do this I will try it with my favorite store bought yoghurt and see the difference in how the cream cheese tastes. I love this Cascade Fresh brand that I can only get at a local health food store (The Granery) It is not labeled as organic, but it does not contain hormones.

Then maybe I will try it with homemade yoghurt ;)


Garden of Glory said...

Ha ha! Yes, I've tried using this kind of cream cheese for a dessert - yuck!!! I am looking for some new ways to use homemade cream cheese, any ideas? I've tried it in a cheese ball, and it works pretty well, but the strong sour taste blocks most of the herb flavors.

Cheryl said...

Maybe if you put like DOUBLE the amount of herbs and spices you put in it?! If I do anymore experimenting with it I will post here...but I probably won't for a while.

Sheri said...

Thanks so much for the detailed info. I just made my first batch and it worked. I was hesitant to try the cheese after reading the comments, but it was really good. I added salt, garlic and chives. Thanks!