Neufchatel, known also as low-fat cream cheese, and farmer’s cheese, is a good place to start when you want to take it to the next level above yogurt and Ricotta in cheese making. With Neufchatel you actually use rennet (or substitute) to set the milk. True rennet is an enzyme that comes from the stomach of young (milk-drinking) pasture animals. There are plenty of artificial or plant-based substitutes out there that work just fine. In Morocco I’ve discovered Marzyme (tablet) and Froma (liquid) availably locally at a pharmacy.
The milk you use for this cheese cannot be UHT, or ultra-pasteurized. Otherwise, anything from store-bought to straight from the cow/sheep/goat/horse will work. You need to use real cultured buttermilk (or specially packaged starter) for this recipe.
I like this cheese because it is far from labor-intensive. Especially once you’ve gotten the hang of it. I know when I started out I had the cheese instructions in front of me, carefully making sure this lab experiment would turn out alright. There is a lot of waiting time, but I think it offers flexibility. It is something you can start and come back to after attending to other things. The actual working time is minimal.
Feel free to half/quarter/double this recipe as meets your needs. All proportions can be adjusted accordingly. In the end you have a nice spread able cheese. Great for many things, and especially cheesecake!
Neufchatel/ Farmer's Cheese/ Low Fat Cream Cheese
4 liters (1 gallon) milk
½ cup (4 oz.) Mesophilic Starter Culture (ripened buttermilk)
4 tablets Marzyme or ¼ tablet Rennet
1. Sterilize a large pot by adding a small amount of water to it and boiling it on high heat with the lid on for five minutes. Dump out water.
2. Mix milk and starter in the sterilized pot. Gently warm to room temperature.
3. Disolve rennet/Marzyme in 3-4 tablespoons cool water. Add disolved rennet/Marzyme to inoculated milk and blend thoroughly.
4. Cover and let sit undisturbed for 15-20 hours. Soft curds may form before 15-20 hours, but the full time is needed to develop flavor. Gently cut curd into ½ inch cubes.
5. Ladle the curds into a clean steril cloth suspended in a large strainer.
6. Hang curd to dry for about 8-12 hours or until desired consistency is reached.
7. Remove from cloth and mix by hand in a small bowl. Add salt, herbs, etc. to taste.
8. Store in a seable container in a refrigerator up to one week.
Ways to serve: Use mould to create form; add seasonings and herbs; use in cheesecake
**Drawings were made for teaching cheese making in Morocco. They are mine, so I'd appreciate it if you'd ask permission to use them (I will likely grant it). Thanks!