Sunday, May 2, 2010

Macarpone making update

On Saturday, May 1, we went to Whole Foods Market in Orlando. We wanted to look around and see what they have and what kind of pricing on products. One of the main things I was looking for was the milk and cream products. We did find pasteurized goat milk in quarts and half gallon. The half gallon was around $4.99, which is in line with farm fresh pasteurized goat milk at $8-10 gal.
Since I have been focused on mascarpone lately, I wanted to find some light or heavy cream that is not ultra pasteurized. The only one I found at Whole Foods was a pint of “Natural by Nature” organic heavy cream from grass fed cows at $4.29 a pint. The pull date on the cartons ranged from May 7 to May 10. I bought two with the May 10 date. (I checked with the "Natural by Nature" website and the shelf live of their heavy cream is 17 days from manufacture date, which means what I purchased was already in the carton for 8 days.)
I made up the first batch shortly after we got home. (I didn’t think I could sleep not knowing how this would work.) The cream is more yellowish than the Wal-Mart cream I had been using. (higher fat content and being grass fed cows?) I used 1/8 tsp tartaric acid instead of lemon juice this time. There is a slight difference in the taste of the final product but the tartaric acid gives more consistent results than lemon juice. The rest of the process was the same as what I described earlier. I put the cheese in the colander at 6:00P.M.. By 10:00P.M., it was thick enough for use. This sure beats the 12-24 hours for the ultra pasteurized Wal-Mart heavy cream.
I made the second batch on Sunday afternoon. It took a bit longer to drain and thicken but the final results were nearly identical to the first. Yield: 12oz each batch.
The first question is: Is there a significant difference in the results from the ultra pasteurized cream? The texture is nearly the same as I have seen in other batches of mascarpone made with ultra pasteurized heavy cream. I can taste the higher fat content as a slightly buttery flavor in the mascarpone. Nice. As a stand-alone product that can be spread on bread or crackers, this is a wonderful cheese.
Second question, is it worth the extra price? At $4.29 VS $1.62, I wouldn’t use it or my key lime mascarpone fillo cups, or for mixing with berries as the flavor of the cheese is masked by the added ingredients. Maybe for special occasions or for very discerning friends I would use this cream for making mascarpone cheese. But for “everyday” use, I can accept the quality of mascarpone made from $1.62/pint Wal-Mart heavy cream.
I have seen three different recipes for mascarpone. One using lemon juice, one using tartaric acid and one using crème fraiche culture. I have used lemon juice and tartaric acid for making mascarpone cheese. And of the two, I prefer the taste of the lemon juice mascarpone. The cheesy geek will get some crème fraiche culture in my next supply order and try it out and see if there is a taste and/or textural difference.


  1. once again, great posting,lots of good info. I like the part where you couldn't sleep without knowing - a sign of a true geek.

  2. I had been using a mix of heavy cream and half-and-half. As the ultra pasturized isnt as fatty as the farm fresh meilk, I wonder what adding a little bit of butter (not margarine) into the batch would do? As that is pure milk fat would it cause a reaction of good or bad proportions?

  3. Shawn,
    That is an interesting question. I don't know the answer. Cheese making is as much an art as a science and I have had as much fun experimenting as following recipes. I say: Go for it. Give it a try and see what you get. All you lose if it doesn't work is some time and a little cream and butter. I would be interested in the results if you do try it.

    George "The Cheesy Geek"