Cream cheese is a soft, spreadable cheese made with unskimmed cow's milk. It has high water content and can be easily spread on bread products and blended into recipes. Because it's so soft, it has a relatively short shelf life. Should your cream cheese mold, it should be discarded.
Does Cream Cheese Go Bad?
In the refrigerator, cream cheese is most susceptible to mold. Food expert Gabrielle Taylor with Food Hacks Daily recommends storing all soft cheeses in airtight containers and buying small.
Mold is a real concern with soft cheeses because mold does have roots. In hard cheeses, these roots will generally be very shallow, but soft cheeses must be considered contaminated once mold forms.
SEE ALSO: Blue Cheese
Can You Freeze Cream Cheese?
Food authorities with Cook's Illustrated froze blocks of cream cheese and thawed them to see what would happen to the quality of the product. The primary rule on how to freeze cream cheese is to thaw it in a bowl, because it will release liquid.
They found that the cheese separated. Instead of a thick, smooth and spreadable product, the thawed cream cheese released its water and crumbled into grainy curds. However, when they blended the curds into recipes, they found that baked goods prepared with cream cheese were not impacted by the change in texture.
If you find a great sale on cream cheese, you can freeze it and use it for some baking.
Use a flour-based recipe such as a pound cake or biscuits that call for cream cheese. The outcome of your baked goods shouldn't be impacted by the textural change. Just don't use frozen cream cheese for cheesecake.
Per cooking experts at Once A Month Meals, thawed cream cheese can be softened again over heat to bring back a creamy texture.
When reviewing how to defrost cream cheese, it's important to allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before applying heat to prevent scorching.
However, once it's thawed it should be blended into other dishes; the smooth, spreadable texture of refrigerated cream cheese cannot be recreated. Can cream cheese be frozen and re-used? In the right circumstances, but don't expect the same product that went into the freezer.
Homemade Cream Cheese
While many homemade cheese recipes call for unpasteurized, raw milk, cream cheese can be made with store bought half and half. By blending half and half with mesophilic culture and giving it a little time, you can create your own rich, spreadable cream cheese.
Per home cooking experts at Prairie Homestead, once the half and half are blended with the culture, let the product rest, lightly covered, at room temperature. The half and half will thicken.
Move this thickened product into a bowl lined with cheese cloth or an old, lintless cotton towel and make a sling to hold the cream cheese over a bowl to drain.
The ratios of homemade cream cheese are simple. If you're blending whole cream and whole milk, the more cream you use, the faster the product will set up and the creamier it will be. The longer the product sits out, the more tart it will be.
SEE ALSO: Substitutes For Milk
Dairy-Based Cream Cheese Substitutes
Cream cheese has a luscious flavor. Is cream cheese bad for you? If you're trying to eat a low fat diet, cream cheese can derail your plans! However, there are some unique options you can use instead of cream cheese.
Non-Dairy Cream Cheese Spreads: Tofu spreads are available in a wide variety of flavors and densities. In addition, many of the pre-packaged vegan "cream cheese" tofu options lend themselves to blending.
Making a fruit platter and need an interesting, yummy dip?
Blend 1/2 cup chunky peanut or sun butter with 1/2 tofu cream cheese spread and brown sugar to taste. This dip is excellent on apples and pears and stores well. You can also amend vegan cream cheese with chopped dried cranberries or apricots for a flavorful spread.
Plain yogurt is a terrific start to many interesting spreads and dips. If you make your own yogurt and find it too runny for your needs, it can easily be drained for a versatile, creamy spread.
Kitchen expert Emma Christensen recommends lining a bowl with cheesecloth or a man's handkerchief and placing your yogurt on the cloth. Tie up the corners of the cloth to a kitchen cabinet knob and let the yogurt drain overnight.
Come morning, you'll have a rich, spreadable product. If you only need a small container of cream cheese substitute, this is a helpful replacement.
Cream cheese is readily available in foil-wrapped blocks and plastic containers at most any supermarket. For the best quality, most cooks will get the best results by buying fresh and using it quickly. Blend it with sweet or savory additions for a yummy spread on toast or produce, and enjoy!