Cheesecake, a perfect dessert for every occasion, employs cream cheese as a base ingredient! This soft, slightly acidic dairy product processed from fresh cow's milk. The finished product has smooth, spreadable consistency and consists of high concentrations of milk solids.
USDA recommends that the standard cream cheese should contain more than 33% total fats, about 10% proteins and about 55% moisture. 1 gallon of fresh milk will yield 1.5 to 2 lbs. of cream cheese.
|Fresh cream cheese.|
Cream cheese and other similar kinds of soft cheeses can simply be prepared at home and require a cheesecloth, simple utensils, and little labor.
Generally, dairy farmers in the countryside use any leftover milk to make some kind of cheese like cream cheese. However, some commercial establishments use just cream or "milk and cream" to prepare it.
Clean and sterilized pieces of equipment are mandatory to obtain good quality cream cheese. Other pre-requisites are fresh commercial pasteurized milk or sweet cream and natural additives such as mesophilic culture, which contains requisite bacteria to convert milk lactose to produce lactic acid, and vegetable rennet, which coagulates the acidic milk. Cultured buttermilk can also serve as a good mesophilic culture.
First, warm the milk to 70 - 80° F in a stainless steel container. Add 50 ml of cultured buttermilk or one sachet of commercial mesophilic starter-culture to each gallon of milk. Stir well, cover the bowl and allow the starter-inoculated mixture to sit undisturbed for an hour at room temperature.
In the next step, dilute the vegetable rennet in half a cup of cold water and stir well. Add this mixture to the inoculated milk. Stir well to ensure the rennet is evenly distributed in the milk. Cover the container with a lid and leave it undisturbed for 24 hours until the whey (a thin, yellowish liquid) separates and curd forms.
When the product turns sour and thoroughly coagulated, stir it gently to break up the curd. Heat the "set" again to 110°F to separate the whey from the curd and to speed up the subsequent draining and pressing. Once whey separation is achieved, it is poured into a cheesecloth to drain. Press until the curd has attained a fine, paste-like consistency.
Transfer cream cheese into a bowl and add salt at the rate of 1 tsp. to each pound. Mix thoroughly, and store in the refrigerator.
Neufchâtel cheese is lighter version of cream cheese. It contains between 20% and 23% total fats, and not more than 65% moisture. It normally contains about 18% protein.
American cream cheese is a nutritionally complete food since it contains almost all the nutrients including vitamin-B12. 100g cream cheese has 350 calories and 34 g of total fats.
Cream cheese contains small amount of lactose (1 g/oz) making it one of the dietary source calcium for those with lactose intolerance. Almost all the naturally occurring lactose within cow milk is converted into more easily digestible lactic acid while making it.
Cream cheese, being a dairy product, is free of gluten. In gluten-sensitive (Celiac disease) persons, it is another important source of gluten-free food items rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins.
During the curdling process, all the major milk constituents such as lactose, milk lipids, and milk proteins, undergo biochemical changes into more easily digestible and health-benefiting products.
Likewise cheddar cheese, it is the finest source of dietary calcium and phosphorous; and together with vitamin-D, cheese play an integral role in the growth and development of child health.
Cream cheese provides high-quality protein that is rich in all essential amino acids needed to growth and development and help stay healthy. 100g Cream contains 6-10 g of protein.
It is a very good source of fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin A. 100g of aged Cream contains 1,111 IU (37% of RDI) of this vitamin.
Further, it is a very good source of minerals, especially calcium (10% of RDI), phosphorus (15% of RDI), zinc (4% of RDI) and magnesium.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|Vitamin K||2.1 µg||2%|
Fresh cream cheese variants; full fat, reduced fat, lite, other foods added, etc can be readily available year-round in grocery stores and dairy parlors.
While buying, look for smooth, a uniform white to light cream color cream cheese that is free from lumps or grittiness. Reduced-fat cream cheese may be slightly pasty. When other food is added, it shall be uniformly distributed and impart the desirable characteristic color to the finished product. The cheese shall be free from visible mold or other surface discolorations.
Avoid those with excessive whey that is running from margins. The cheese shall be medium-firm when cold and be spreadable at room temperature.
Being a gentle dairy product cream cheese is highly perishable. If you prepare it at home, make small batches frequently and store it well in the fridge for up to a week.
Cream cheese is prepared fresh and should be eaten quickly. Cream cheese is a very convenient and versatile dairy item that chefs love to work within many mouth-watering dessert and savory recipes. It complements well with fruits and vegetables.
In cooking, cream cheese can found useful in savory dishes like chicken/vegetable stuffing, dips, sauces, and soups. However, it chiefly used as topping spread in many desserts like cakes, donuts, bagels, or cream-filled/stuffed in bread, croquettes, muffins, cookies, etc.
|Blackberries cheesecake. Courtesy: Marco Verch|
Use cream cheese as substitute in recipes that call for butter, cream, greek yogurt, mayonnaise, etc.
Enjoy it as base ingredient in delicious Philadelphia cherry pie and cheesecakes.
Blend fruit yogurt and cream cheese in mouth-watering fruit dips.
Mix cream cheese and butter thoroughly until creamy to prepare frosting cream cheese to use as decorative toppings in the confectionery.
Being a soft cheese, it can be substituted for Neufchatel, cottage, etc to prepare pasta sauce.
Cream cheese is nutritious, low in sodium and saturated fats dairy items unlike other hard cheeses like cheddar. For the same reasons, it is considered as one of the healthy cheeses for people who are on low sodium and fat diet program.
Skim-milk cream cheese contains small amounts of tyramine and can be eaten in small quantities by those on the tyramine-restricted diet.
Source: Queensland Government-low tyramine diet: MAOI's and diet.
<<-You may also like to read-Cheddar cheese nutrition facts.
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USDA National Nutrient Database. (opens in new window).
USDA Specifications for Cream Cheese, Cream Cheese with other Foods, and Related Products. (opens in new window).
Queensland Governament- low tyramine diet..
University of Verginia Health System Lactose Content of Common Dairy Foods