Bob Albers of Mandeville, Louisiana is a retired electronics engineer who has traveled all around the country and the world. When he was a manager, he made sure his engineers wrote their directions carefully, reasoning that the directions are at least as important as the product. He definitely practices what he “preached” and we appreciate the attention he gave to his recipe for Creole cream cheese.
Bob has been married for 48 years and he has 2 children and 2 grandchildren. Last Christmas, Bob’s grandchildren gave him two cheese kits and he began his new hobby (he already makes furniture, cabinets and stained glass). Since he received his gifts, he has made paneer, queso blanco, and blue cheese.
Creole Cream Cheese
By Bob Albers
A Brief History
Now, why do we call it “Creole” cream cheese and exactly what do we mean when we say creole? Its probably not what you think. Here we go with a history & linguistics lesson:
For much of Louisiana’s colonial history, we were a Spanish colony. In fact, the architecture of the French Quarter is Spanish Colonial. The Spaniards had a word for any people of European heritage who were born in the New World. That word was “criollo,” pronounced “kre-o-yo.” In time, after the Louisiana purchase and the ascendance of English as the predominant language, the term evolved into today’s “creole.”
During this colonial or creole period, there was no refrigeration, so milk would often sour on its own. Eventually the milk would separate into curds & whey. Rather than dump this naturally occurring curds & whey, it would be drained and the curd eaten as a “cream cheese.” I’m not sure if they used rennet.
My Creole Cream Cheese
I call it “My Creole…” because everyone I know who makes their own has a slightly different variation on the recipe published long ago in our local newspaper. The actual source for that recipe was the Gold Seal Creamery which is now defunct. I’m making this recipe as I write the article and it is somewhat of an experiment since I am doing some slight variation to my previous makes.
This time I am adding some calcium chloride (1/8 tsp.) for the half gallon of pasteurized, homogenized milk. Also, I am using liquid animal rennet instead of the ¼ vegetable rennet tablet. Although the original recipe calls for skimmed milk, I have used all other types of milk, whole milk, 2%, 1% & skimmed. My preference is 1% milk-fat.
The first step is to gather the ingredients pictured here. ½ gallon of 1% milk (or any other fat content as you choose), ¼ cup cultured buttermilk as the starter (I used store-bought, but you can make your own with buttermilk culture), rennet & (newly introduced) calcium chloride. I also use a large plastic bowl for mixing all the ingredients.
As room temperature around here is 70° to 75° F, there is no need to apply heat. I just set the unopened container of milk on the kitchen counter in the morning and by supper time, its the correct temperature.
As I begin, I measure out the buttermilk into a small bowl. If I were to use a ¼ rennet tablet, I would add it to the buttermilk and crush it as to dissolve it into the culture.
I am using liquid rennet this time so I will simply pour the 1% milk into the mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, then 4 drops of the rennet, stir,
cover with cheese cloth (to prevent any contamination) and place the bowl atop the refrigerator in my laundry room. It will rest there for 24 to 36 hours.
After 24 hours it looked like the picture here. That’s not good enough. Another 12 hours will do it.
Now for a common point in all cheese making, the draining of the curd. I have a straining basket which spans the small side of my kitchen sink.
I line it with cheese cloth then, at first, ladle then pour the curds & whey into the cheese cloth. Note that the curd isn’t cut, just scooped up & dumped rather haphazardly. Let it drain for about ½ hour to remove much of the whey.
While that’s happening, I line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place a cooling rack in it. The reason for the foil is so the cookie sheet is unaffected by the whey which will continue to drain.
Next comes what got me into cheese making to begin with. These are cheese molds which I inherited from my mother-in-law -the sweetest most generous person this side of heaven. Now she’s in heaven with the rest of those sweet and generous people.
She took plastic yogurt & butter containers and meticulously punched dozens of holes in them around the sides & bottom so as to form a cream-cheese mold (not a lot of money spent here) You could even call this her “green” project as they didn’t end up in a garbage dump. I’ve had them since 2005.
Weighing the curds & whey, I found I had 49± ounces. This means each mold should contain about 12 ounces of curd. I zeroed out my scale and each mold weighs about ¼ oz. I placed about 12 ounces. in each mold. The reason for splitting the curd up this way is that the smaller molds will drain better than a larger one and each mold represents one serving. We’ll get into servings later.
After the curd has been molded, the molds are placed on the cooling rack/lined cookie sheet.
The whole thing is placed in the refrigerator (about 40°F) for another 24 hours or longer until the whey stops dripping. Yes, it continues to drain while being chilled.
Here it seems I’m getting the first results of my deviation from the norm. What should have taken only 24 hours is now taking 72 hours. Perhaps the addition of the calcium chloride slowed the initial whey drain??
Once drainage is complete, each cheese is placed in a storage container & refrigerated until it is used. Its ready now. I’m told it could last for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. I don’t know. We eat them sooner than that.
And now for the taste test. In the beginning, I indicated that this particular make was an experiment. Let’s see if we succeeded or failed.
The way we serve Creole Cream Cheese is as a breakfast dish. The simplest way is to eat it from the storage container, sprinkle sugar or other sweetener on top with half & half. In addition, we could top the cheese with sliced strawberries, blueberries, peach slices, mango, etc. I’ve never tried apple. Here we have strawberries & blueberries.
OK, It’s good. The curd is just a little firmer than before. I’m not sure that the addition of the calcium chloride was beneficial.
This is how I did it. Follow me & enjoy!