Makes 10-12 cups. Recipe from Chef John Folse’s Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine (2004).
This is one of those historical recipes created of necessity. In Louisiana before refrigeration, almost everyone who had a cow made cream cheese with cream that was ready to spoil. My mom remembers making cream cheese by hanging fresh cream in cheesecloth on the sink faucet and simply letting it drain overnight, the way Creole cream cheese was made before rennet was widely used. In Old New Orleans, the Creole cream cheese lady would peddle her wares in the streets every morning, and her customers would typically eat the creamy breakfast treat with sugar, cream, and strawberries.
2 gallons skim milk
½ quart buttermilk
½ rennet tablet (available at cheese specialty stores)*
1. In a stainless steel pot, combine skim milk, buttermilk and rennet, stirring constantly. Carefully monitor temperature with a thermometer until milk reaches 80 degrees F.
2. Continuing to stir, hold milk at 80 degrees F for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly and let sit 3 hours.
3. Drain off whey (liquid remaining after curds are formed) and discard. Pack solids (curds) in 8-ounce portions. Top each portion with equal parts half-and-half, if desired. Chill and serve with sugar or fruit.
*Or substitute ½ teaspoon liquid rennet.
Testing Notes: Recipe is easily halved. To drain, line a colander or large sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and spoon the curds into the cheesecloth. (Try not to break up the chunks of curds.) Drain one hour, or until cheese has formed one solid piece. Do not squeeze the moisture out of the cheese while in the cheesecloth; the final product will end up too dry.