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How to Make Agar Agar Cream Cheese. An Easy, Low Cost and Rennet Free Cheese

Updated on February 17, 2009

Make Your Own Schmear!

Here are some easy instructions for making a rennet free cream cheese using whipping cream and agar agar. This cheese may be of interest to people looking to avoid rennet or more probably, for restaurateurs looking to make their own cheese at a fraction of the price. I do not consider this cream cheese to be quite as tasty as a more traditional rennet added cream cheese, but since there is no loss from the separation of the curds and whey – the cheese can be made at a fraction of the price and may be a good profit margin increasing addition to multiple cheese blends and the like.

The cheese is also quite simple to make, even for rookie cheesemakers!

Here are the instructions for a small, 2 liter batch of cheese. Since there is no liquid loss – 2 liters of cream will yield 2 kilos of finished cream cheese.

Agar Agar Cream Cheese

  • 2 liters of 35% fat whipping cream
  • 14 grams of agar agar powder
  • 14 grams of salt
  • ¼ cup of real buttermilk or sour cream (by real, I mean buttermilk or sour cream which contains live active bacterial culture – this will be listed on the ingredients. Without a bacterial starter culture – your cheese will never taste like cheese!)

Cheese Making Instructions

  1. In a pot, add the 2 liters of cream and stir in the agar agar powder completely.
  2. Over medium low heat (lowish to prevent scorching) bring the cream to an almost boil – turning the heat off just as it comes to a boil.
  3. Let the cream cool to about 40 degrees Celsius, and add in the sour cream or buttermilk, stirring well.
  4. Transfer the cream mixture to a container with a lid, and let it rest in a warm room for 15-30 hours – start tasting it after about 15 hours and let it sit out at room temperature until it achieves a nice tartness.
  5. Once it has soured enough, transfer it to the fridge, where it will keep for a couple of weeks.

A quick note on agar agar. Agar agar will solidify liquids, but if these liquids are heated again past about 75 degrees, the agar agar loses its ability to solidify liquids, and solids once again liquefy.

What this means for this cheese is that if you try to cook with it, and heat it higher than 75 degrees, the cheese will lose its solidity and become the texture of loose sour cream. It will however re-solidify as it cools. I have not found this to be very problematic, as the cheese, especially if a blend of cheese, will seem quite normal by the time you are eating it after even a brief cooling.

I am able to make this cheese for about 30% the cost of comparable cream cheeses.


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      Southernmapart 5 years ago

      John, thank you for your recipe. Please help me understand your comment about cooking with this cream cheese. Can the agar agar cream cheese be used to make cheesecake?