Make it at home: Homemade Cream Cheese (and stabilizers)

I know most of us are happy grabbing a package of cream cheese as we walk through the refrigerator aisle at the grocery aisle. Have you read that package, though? Yep. You even need to read that package!

Most likely it contains some sort of stabilizer: xanthan, carob bean, or guar gums. Stabilizers are things that are needed because we don't make our own food anymore. Okay, Okay. Slight overstatement (but pretty close). Way back when, we made all our food: ice creams, puddings, cakes, lasagnas, dips, yogurts, etc. There wasn't the concern of shelf life, melting and refreezing, etc. If you wanted to eat ice cream, you made it, ate it, and probably worked it off. That's another topic, though!

Now we've found "natural" stabilizers to help us buy food we probably shouldn't be buying. We see "natural" and convert it to "healthy." Reminder: natural doesn't equal healthy. Opium is natural. Not so healthy. 

In very short summary:
Xantham Gum: bi-product of corn; technically naturally occurring, but controlled in labs for mass production; reports of intolerance in many people causing gas and other digestion problems.

Carob Bean Gum: aka locust bean gum; naturally occurring from a tree; chemically separated and ground. 

Guar Gum: bean based that really does grow in the ground. Known to cause major digestion issues in diet pills and not allowed by the FDA in diet pills. FDA allows it in small amounts in your food.

I don't like stabilizers. To me, they rank about as good as sugar substitutes. If you make your own cream cheese, you won't have to eat them! It's really easy; I swear!

1. Get out a clean towel (flour sack preferably). Lay it in a sieve. Put that over a big bowl.

2. Pour your yogurt into the towel and cover. I use Trader Joe's whole milk plain yogurt since nothing's in it. You could use any flavor you want or any fat level you want.

3. Let it sit for about five hours on the counter. When it comes to the consistency of cream cheese, put it in an air tight container, throw it in the fridge, and eat it up! It will be tart if you use plain yogurt. If if your gang won't eat it so tart, throw on some homemade freezer jam or whip it with honey before putting it in the refrigerator.