Cream cheese is made from a mixture of cream and milk, and eaten fresh. It has a soft, spreadable texture, and mildly acidic flavour that is often flavoured with garlic, herbs or black pepper. Most mass-produced versions are pasteurised.
In Britain, cream cheese must have a fat content of 45-65% (anything above this is considered double cream cheese), although definitions vary abroad.
There are many varieties of cream cheese available. Look for young cheeses with a far-off use-by date.
Cream cheeses are designed to be eaten as fresh as possible. Eat 3-4 days after opening. Cream cheese doesn’t freeze well.
Cream cheese’s creamy character makes it popular for use in cooking: it’s used both in savoury dishes and sweet cheesecakes and icings.
Soya-based cream cheeses can be used as a dairy-free alternative to milk-based cream cheeses in most recipes.
Article by Felicity Cloake
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