Cream cheese is a very easy way to introduce dairy in your baby’s diet: smooth texture, delicate flavor, it works both with sweet and savory recipes.
It can easily be mixed with fresh fruit or veggies, making them more appealing for the kids 🙂
In many countries cream cheese is easily found at the grocery store, but not in every country. Also, sometimes the options you can find at the store are heavily processed. You don’t know the quality of the milk used and the cream cheese is loaded with salt and even other ingredients that are not so recommended for a baby. Enough reasons to share with you a simple (and FUN!!) homemade cream cheese recipe.
I’ve been looking into several recipes but what I really like about this one is that:
- it’s easy! really, very easy.
- it doesn’t require overnight draining or too long waiting time. It’s ready in 30 min total (considering the milk boiling time too!!)
- it works with different kind of milk, so you can personalize it following your diet. I tested the recipe with whole cows milk (the best results due to the nice animal fats in it), with lactose free semi skimmed milk (the one you see in the video. Yeah!! I’m lactose intolerant so I could enjoy it too!!) and…with coconut milk (not so creamy like the first one, but still creamy enough to be yummy!!).
- you can really decide how much salt to add…or not to add any. And that’s the best feature as we are cooking for babies. You can skip the salt part for little ones under 12 months.
- you can personalize the flavor adding any spice/herb/topping that you like. Just to give you some examples: you can add paprika or thyme or rosemary or diced olives or smoked salmon…and I can keep going 🙂
- I will also add another feature that I really enjoyed: the procedure it’s a fun science experiment. If you have older kids, that’s the time to involve them in the kitchen!! When the acidic lemon mixes with the fat milk, magic happens. The fat separates creating curds and the remaining liquid is whey. Simply fascinating.
When creating cream cheese you will end up with a yellowish residual liquid: whey. Well, don’t trow it away because it has impressive nutritional benefits.
It’s loaded with protein and you can use it for cooking!
You can add whey to your smoothies for a higher nutrient value. You can use whey to ferment veggies or to soak beans and grains, it will make them more digestible. Another idea is to use it for baking: use it instead of water in the recipe (muffins, cakes, pancakes, breads…)
So…how do make the cream cheese?
Prepare a colander/strainer with two layers of cheese cloth and a bowl underneath.
In a saucer pan bring the milk to simmer stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat as you don’t want the milk to boil and raise out of the pan 🙂
Add the lemon juice while stirring. In few seconds the milk will start curdling, keep stirring. The curds will separate from the whey. The fatter the milk is the bigger the curds will be.
Turn the heat off and strain the milky mix in the colander covered with 2 layers of cheese cloth. Let it drain completely for 15 min. You might need to change the bowl under the colander as you don’t want the whey to reach the colander.
You will see that the curds will form a cheesy compact mass.
Transfer the cream cheese block in a food processor and at this point you can:
- add a pinch of salt (skip for babies under 12 month) and adjust the quantity following your taste
- add any other spice/herb/ingredient
Blend for 1 minute to obtain a smooth cream…that’s your homemade cream cheese!!!
The quantities I suggested will make a bit less than one cup of final cream cheese. You can store the cream cheese in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- 4 cups milk
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- pinch salt optional
Line a colander or strainer with 2 layers of cheese cloth and a bowl underneath.
In a saucepan bring the milk to simmer, not boil. You will see tiny bubbles on the sides.
Add the lemon juice and stir.
The milk will start curdling. Keep stirring for 1 minute. The curds will separate from the whey.
Strain in the colander prepared at the beginning with the cheese cloth.
Let it drain for 15 min.
Transfer the cream cheese block in a food processor. Add a pinch of salt (not for babies) and blend into a smooth cream.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.