Supereasy Homemade Cream Cheese and Sour Cream


Two items that we seem to buy every week from the grocery store are cream cheese and sour cream. Why I haven't already started making these myself sooner is beyond me. Most likely because I didn't realize how extremely easy it was to do both. For the cream cheese, I've read several recipes that call for fancy equipment or hard-to-find ingredients, but there are other ways of making it that won't make your throw your hands up in frustration. And, considering the amount of plastic packaging involved with both items, making them at home will also limit the amount of waste involved (although we do recycle both kinds of containers). These recipes are so easy, you'll wonder why you never tried them before.

cream cheese bagel

Homemade Cream Cheese

1 quart homemade or store-bought plain yogurt (whole milk or low-fat, depending on your preference)


Place a clean kitchen towel or clean muslin in a colander. Place the colander in a bowl that is large enough to hold it. Add the yogurt to the lined colander and wrap the towel over the top to cover (or use a plate). Leave this to drain for about 5 hours in the refrigerator. If you want a thicker consistency, leave it longer, making sure to empty what is draining so it doesn't reach the bottom of the colander and get reabsorbed. Store your finished cream cheese in a resealable container in the fridge. Better yet, use one of your old packaged cream cheese containers to do the job!

Your cream cheese will last as long as your yogurt would, so if you used purchased yogurt (rather than making it yourself), check the expiration date and use that as your guide. (I highly recommend trying to make the yogurt yourself since this will cut down on additional waste especially if you can get your milk in returnable glass bottles.) If you want to get fancy, you can add flavorings to your cream cheese. Try adding homemade strawberry jam for strawberry-flavored cream cheese. If you spent time dehydrating onions, then adding those (or fresh green onions) and chives from your garden will make a tasty chive-and-onion cream cheese spread.

Homemade Sour Cream

homemade sour cream

7/10/2013 4:18:24 AM

 To TomCosmos...

Calves are not "killed for their digestive juices." They are killed for veal, a perfectly delicious product, and no more "inhumane" than killing them seven months later for steaks, prime rib, brisket, and pot roast. Rennet is just a by-product of the process. On the dairy farm, every cow must deliver a calf every year to keep her lactation cycle going. Half of those calves will be female (heifers), and will grow up to be milk cows. The other half will be males, and it is not economically feasable to raise all of these to maturity. In fact, virtually NO commercial dairy farms will ever raise ANY male calves to an age at which they could be called bulls and used for breeding. Virtually none of the cows on dairy farms in America will ever encounter a real bull in their lives. Reproduction of dairy cattle is an artificial process involving frozen semen that is stored in a tank of liquid nitrogen. 

So, don't villianize the killing of calves as inhumane. If you purchase dairy products at all, you have bought into this process. The alternative is to give up milk and milk products or to buy a farm and a cow, and then YOU have to decide what to do with Bosssie's male offspring. Hint: they make VERY expensive pets.

6/26/2013 1:03:32 AM

A little friendly sarcasm:

I'm sorry but I looked for a good, easy cream cheese recipe and came across many like yours. I tried the process and wondered why it doesn't even taste close to cream cheese. What you describe is how to make the, now fashionable, "Greek Yogurt" (yogurt with less whey). Not a bad thing, just not cheese. To get the real taste you need a starter culture. I don't know if any earlier posts addressed this issue or not. I guess not since you would have changed the title by now. I do hope you correct your misleading title and cream cheese references, and can only hope others will become wise to the difference.

PS - Surprisingly a couple of layers of Cheese Cloth works well to get Greek style yogurt also. And you can search online for uses of the mystery liquid you mention (whey) instead of wasting it.  :-)

And a little serious note:

One reason I posted this on MEN was to impart this bit of cheese info. The rennet used to make most cheeses including cream cheese comes from the intestines of calves. Calves have the most since they need to digest their mothers milk when they are young. I don't like the idea of killing calves for their digestive juices. Rennet can be made from vegetable sources and I have found a good cheddar that is made with it at Trader Joe's (not an ad). It can be found. Anyone looking for more humane treatment of animals, look for products using vegetable base rennet.

Lisa Foss
2/1/2013 12:07:14 AM

I've tried 2 different sour cream recipes, the second being the one above. Neither one has thickened! What am I doing wrong??

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