How to Make Cream Cheese

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Introduction: How to Make Cream Cheese

About: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through understanding, and strives to inspire others to lear...

Making cream cheese is much easier than you think!

This is an adaptation of the cream cheese recipe from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions. Using this method, you get wonderful cream cheese and whey, which can be used to make sauerkraut, ginger ale, or many other lacto-fermented foods.

It couldn't be easier: Put plain yogurt in a dish towel or cheese cloth and let the whey drip out overnight. I tied my dish towel together with rubber bands, and suspended it from a cabinet knob over a pitcher. Once the cream cheese and whey are separated, scrape the cream cheese out of the cloth with a spatula, and salt it to to taste. Refrigerated whey will last for months. In the images, I used goat milk yogurt and red Alaea Hawaiian sea salt, which makes the cream cheese slightly pink. Cow's milk and plain salt will both work just fine.

Homemade cream cheese is one of my favorite things to bring to brunches or dinner parties. Everyone is so amazed that I make my own cream cheese, and the flavor is much stronger and more "real" than processed cream cheese; Sally Fallon writes, "The cream cheese is far superior to the commercial variety, which is produced by putting milk under high pressure and not by the beneficial action of lactic-acid-producing bacteria."

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    52 Comments

    This isnt making cream cheese. When you strain the whey from yogurt you have greek yogurt not cream cheese.

    1 reply

    Depends on how long you hang it. Shorter time is a greek yogurt. Let more of the whey out it gets even thicker and is cream cheese.

    Hi, I'm new here and our teacher assigned us to do this activity but I was wondering why you need to tie it up . (?)

    I have used cloth bandages. I didn't have any other cloth that would work. And then I remembered we had a bunch of bandages still in the box. Layered them in the strainer, worked great.

    I've done this with smaller batches using paper coffee filters instead of cheese cloth. I suspect the "cheese" also comes out/off more easily. At least 98% of mine simply slips out of the filter(s). [I use about one per cup of yogurt.]

    2 replies

    BTW, I also make a scrumptious tart/torte filling/topping using this and adding berry puree, sugar (as needed) and vanilla extract. I mix it all together and do the rest as if it were yogurt alone. It takes the same time (1-2 days, depending on desired thickness) and is soooooo easy! I then slap it on a sponge cake round, top with fresh berries, and Voila! You have a delicious, EASY, cheap, SEMI-HEALTHY dessert that also looks beautiful!

    Silly me! I also should mention: If you follow my lead using sponge cake instead of some other base, it's best to generously brush the top surface of the cake with about 1/2 cup of (thinned) berry syrup. (First, poke lots of fork holes into the cake, so the syrup fully soaks in and is more evenly distributed.) You can do this right before topping the cake with the "cream cheese" mixture, then let it all sit in the fridge for at least one day, so the syrup soaks in well and the topping "marries" with the cake beneath. I add fresh berries on top the same day I'll be serving it, for total freshness.

    http://valcook.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/yoghurt-made-by-you-and-milk-allergies.html

    I used the fine denier polyester mesh fabric that looks like silk screen cloth.
    It works for that too, as long as you're not too rough with it.

    I tried to make this with the white dish towel I had - the result was too wet.  I tried it with cheese cloth - the yogurt ran through it.  Finding the cloth with the right porosity is not easy.  I bought some fairly porous cheap dish cloths and had awesome success.  So remember for the weave of the cloth, not too tight, not too open.

    4 replies

    i've used cloth diapers or burp cloths, the thin ones you use for spit-up. also dish cloths that were thin. handkerchiefs didnt work too well...

    One solution to this is to take the cheese cloth and line a colander with it initially. Put the yogurt in and wait for a few hours or until the dripping has slowed and the cheese in the colander has firmed up a bit. At that point, you can finish up with just the cheese cloth over night without the worry of having the solids pass through.

    This may be a bad idea, but I use Handi Wipes. You know, those resuable "cloths" you can get in a grocery store. I rinse them in hot water before I use them for this task.
    I'll buy the 1000 gram (35 oz) container of Plain, No-Fat Greek Yogurt at Costco. I use 2 Handi Wipes, placed side by side, with about a 1" overlap at the center, into a colander . The yogurt is dumped onto the Handi Wipes, and the colander is placed over a bowl to catch the whey. I put plastic wrap over the exposed yogurt, add a 28 oz can of something on the plastic wrap, and put the whole thing in the refrigerator for a couple of days. 
    When done, it has the consistency of cream cheese.
    The Handi Wipes seem to be the perfect medium for straining the yogurt. As I said, I don't know if this is a good idea, health wise or not. Handi Wipes are made of Rayon and Acrylic. However, they work, are washable and reusable.

     elwulf - perhaps it was the yogurt you chose: it is best to make this with the thickest brand of yogurt you can find, and the most natural as well. if you live by a trader joe's store, i would recommend you get one of the greek style yogurts they carry, rather than their european style yogurt, for better results. try again - it's well worth it!

    easiest way I've found to strain the yogurt is to line a strainer with a paper coffee filter, put it above a deep bowl and stick in the refirgerator overnight. Next morning cream cheese. You can use vanilla yogurt to get a sweeter dessert type cheese. If you look in kitchen gadget type stores you can purchase a two pack of yogurt strainers.... I found a set at a Goodwill for 50 cents. They are like larger permanent style coffee filters, but they don't work any different then the regular paper type.

    2 replies

    vanilla yogurt cheese sounds great... and then you can put it in blinzes... oh boy!

    Vaniila Yogurt? What a BRILLIANT idea!!!!