August is a brutal weather month in New Orleans, so the Crescent City Farmers Market has always come up with innovative ways to lure customers out to sweat and shop. In the early 1990s, the Learned Festival of Heat was a regular part of the campaign.
The largest August crowd ever seen at the market came out on August 28, 1999, to learn how to make a vanishing New Orleans classic, Creole cream cheese. The original indigenous cheese of the area had been abandoned by all of the large commercial enterprises that had gobbled up our local dairies during the latter part of the twentieth century.
Trying to stay cool under a wide-brimmed palmetto hat, I taught shoppers how to make this delicious treat at home. When you consider that this process involves leaving a dairy product out at room temperature for eighteen to twenty-four hours before consuming it, Creole cream cheese is a clear illustration of how unusual some of our native tastes are in comparison with the rest of America.
Note: You will need 8 pint-size cheese molds for this recipe, or you can make your own cheese molds by using a soldering iron to poke holes in plastic pint containers.
- Yield: 8 pints
- 1 gallon skim milk
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 6 to 8 drops liquid vegetable rennet (available in health food stores)
- Pinch of salt
- In a large stainless steel or glass bowl, combine skim milk, buttermilk, rennet, and salt. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave out on kitchen counter at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours. You will then find one large cheese curd floating in whey. Use a slotted spoon to fill molds with the cheese. Discard the whey.
- Place molds on a rack in a roasting pan (so cheeses can drain) and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours. Turn cheese out of molds and store in a tightly covered container for up to two weeks.