Unless you are buying your cream cheese in a brick form, chances are you are buying either a spread or a block. So, what is the difference between cream cheese and cream cheese spread?
The process of making cream cheese spread is less regulated than that of making cream cheese, which means that manufacturers can add more stabilizers and emulsifiers. Why is that? Stabilizers and emulsifiers can mask some of the natural flavors of cream cheese. It results in spreadable cream cheese, but not as flavorful.
On the other hand, the production of cream cheese must follow strict guidelines set by the FDA. In this way, cream cheese develops a richer flavor but is not as spreadable. Why is that? The regulations state that cream cheese must have a minimum fat content of 33%. A higher fat content makes it more flavorful but less spreadable.
The question is, which one should you choose? If you are looking for cream cheese to spread on your bagel or toast, go for the spread. If you are making a dish where cream cheese is the star ingredient, go for the block.
There are so many different ways to enjoy cream cheese. You can have it as a bagel spread, a dip for vegetables or tortilla chips, or even sandwiched between two slices of bread. But what is the best way to enjoy it? Is cream cheese better when it's smooth and spreadable, or does the lumpy, cottage cheese-like consistency make it taste better? Let's find out!
What is cream cheese?
Over the years, cream cheese has developed quite a reputation, both good and bad. Some people love its creamy texture and mildly tangy flavor, while others find it too rich or think it has an odd taste. Following the guidelines of the FDA, the minimum milk fat content of cream cheese should be 33%, with a maximum moisture content of 55%.
So what exactly is cream cheese, and is it actually cheese?
In its basic form, cream cheese is a fresh cheese made from milk and cream. Soft and mild-tasting, it is a versatile ingredient.
There is no less than 33% fat in cream cheese, made from unskimmed cow's milk. It is white, slightly tangy, and creamy. A lactic acid base gives it its firm but creamy texture. Lactic acid is a natural by-product of milk that thickens sour cream. Lactic acid also acts as a preservative, which is why cream cheese can have a shelf life of up to two weeks. Fear not; cream cheese does not retain a sour taste (note: sourness depends on the amount of time it has been sitting in the fridge). <source>
It originated in the United States, and its name comes from its original production method: cheese makers would literally beat cream until it turned into cheese. The production of cream cheese nowadays involves the addition of rennet and lactic acid bacteria to milk and cream, which causes it to thicken and curdle.
So yes, technically speaking, cream cheese is cheese. However, its texture and flavor are very different from other cheese types. Cream cheese is much softer and more spreadable than other cheeses, and it has a milder, tangier flavor.
You can also use it in baking to add creaminess and richness to desserts like cheesecake or chocolate cake or even dinner recipes like cream cheese pasta, crab rangoon, or stuffed mushrooms. Many recipes online use cream cheese in exciting and delicious ways, proving that this humble cheese has a lot of potential!
Are you concerned about the high-fat percentage of cream cheese? Low-fat and non-fat options are available to meet FDA standards, adding to the appeal of homemade cheesecake.
Can you freeze cream cheese?
Does it freeze well? Yes, you can freeze cream cheese with minimal impact on quality, depending on how you plan to use it. Moreover, freezing and thawing can cause the cream cheese to become crumbly, so it may not be the best option for using in recipes that require a smooth consistency. But you can use unfrozen cream cheese for any recipe where the grainy texture wouldn't matter, such as in baked goods or when mixed with other ingredients.
Here's how to freeze unopened cream cheese.
Buying cream cheese in larger quantities can save you money. But what if you run into a problem where you have too much, and it starts to go bad before you can eat it all? One way to make cream cheese last longer is to freeze it. Freezing cream cheese will help it last up to two months.
Freezing cream cheese is not a problem as long as it remains unopened and in its original packaging. Be sure to check the package for expiration dates before freezing so you know it will still be good after thawing.
As long as the cream cheese is unopened and still in its original packaging, you can put it directly in the freezer. It is well protected from freezer burn by the foil wrapping and cardboard box. Two months are the best storage time for frozen cream cheese.
How to freeze opened cream cheese?
Before freezing the cream cheese, make sure it does not contain mold or is past its expiration date. Assuming you've already dipped it in cream cheese, you'll need to take a few extra steps before freezing it. Drying out and freezer burn will result if you do not do this.
Step 1 Once you have verified that the cream cheese is still good, remove the cream cheese from its original packaging. Cut it into smaller blocks or slices; doing this will help it thaw out faster and make it easier to portion out later.
Step 2 Then, wrap individually in aluminum foil and place in a freezer-safe bag or a freezer-safe container with a tight lid. Again, make sure there are no air pockets.
Step 3 Label the container with the date so you can track how long it has been in the freezer.
Step 4 Place the cream cheese in the back of the freezer, where it will stay cold and not be disturbed. During the first two months after freezing, cream cheese will remain good.
How to thaw frozen cream cheese?
The best way to thaw frozen cream cheese is to place it in the refrigerator overnight. Keeping cream cheese in this manner will preserve its taste and texture. You'll notice that some water will leach out of the cream cheese as it thaws; this is normal. Also, previously frozen cream cheese will be softer than fresh cream cheese and become more grainy or crumbly.
Why is that? The fat cells in cream cheese break down when frozen and thawed, so it may not be ideal for spreading on crackers. You can re-incorporate some of the water by kneading it back in or using it in a recipe where a little extra moisture wouldn't hurt.
How to use frozen cream cheese?
While the change of consistency of frozen cream cheese is not dramatic, it is vital to use it in recipes where this will not matter. You can use it in any recipe that calls for softened cream cheese, such as frosting, casserole, and no-bake desserts. When using frozen cream cheese in these recipes, there is no need to thaw it first; add it to the other ingredients as directed. Crumbling the frozen cream cheese with a fork before adding it to the recipe will help it incorporate more easily.
Here's a good rule of thumb: if a recipe calls for cream cheese that has been beaten or whipped, it's best to use fresh, soft cream cheese. This is because the freezing process alters the cream cheese's ability to become smooth and creamy when beaten.
Less forgiving recipes, such as those requiring melted cream cheese, are more likely to succeed with frozen cream cheese.
There's no doubt that cheesecake is the most popular way to use cream cheese, but frozen cream cheese might not be the best option. For a good cheesecake, smooth, creamy consistency is essential. The freezing process makes it difficult to achieve this. If you're insistent on using frozen cream cheese in cheesecake, make sure to thaw it first and use it in a recipe that doesn't require much beating or whipping.
In general, it's best to use frozen cream cheese in recipes where a slight change in texture won't adversely affect the finished product. These include:
- Dips and spreads
- Fillings for pies and other desserts
- Frostings for cupcakes and other quick bread
When in doubt, thaw the cream cheese first and see how it handles. If it seems too stiff or dry, there's a good chance the recipe won't turn out as intended. On the other hand, if the cream cheese seems soft and pliable, it should work just fine.
Most popular cream cheese on the market
There are many brands of cream cheese on the market, but the most popular one is the Philadelphia brand. Not much of a surprise there. It is a household name for cream cheese, and its popularity is well-deserved. Being one of the oldest brands around, Philadelphia has had plenty of time to perfect its cream cheese recipe, which is why it continues to be a favorite among consumers. With the immense popularity of breakfast cafes nowadays, Philadelphia's dominance in the cream cheese market is likely to continue for years to come.
Now that we know what cream cheese is let's look at its close cousin, cream cheese spread.
What is a cream cheese spread?
Cream cheese spread is essentially the same thing as cream cheese, only with a few extra ingredients added to improve its flavor and texture. It is a processed cheese spread made from cream cheese, milk, and other components. It is softer and more spreadable than cream cheese and has a milder flavor.
These days, most cream cheese spreads on the market contain additional flavors like chives, garlic, or herbs, as well as some sort of stabilizer to keep the spread from getting too runny. You can use cream cheese spread in sweet and savory dishes like cream cheese. It makes an excellent spread for sandwiches or wraps and works well as a dip for vegetables or crackers. Often, cream cheese spread is used as a topping on bagels, toast, or as a dip for crackers and vegetables.
The main difference between cream cheese and cream cheese spread is that cream cheese is a type of cheese, while cream cheese spread is a type of processed cheese. Cream cheese is made from milk and cream, while cream cheese spread is made from cream cheese, milk, and other ingredients. Cream cheese is also much firmer than cream cheese spread.
It's interesting to note that while cream cheese and cream cheese spread are both processed cheeses, the FDA has different standards for each. US law requires cream cheese to have a minimum milk fat content of 33%. For cream cheese spread, however, FDA regulations only require 20% milkfat.
The next time you are at the grocery store, you'll know what to look for in the dairy section. Whether you are in the mood for a bagel with cream cheese or a delicious cream cheese pasta, you will now be able to choose the right product for your needs. Perhaps you will even get inspired to experiment in the kitchen and come up with your own unique recipe using either cream cheese or cream cheese spread.
How do they make cream cheese spreadable?
Cream cheese spread is spreadable by adding other ingredients like milk, cream, or stabilizers. Compared to cream cheese, spreads made with these ingredients are softer and easier to apply. Why is that? Because the other ingredients help to thin out the mixture and make it easier to spread.
The cream cheese spread contains stabilizers to keep it from getting too runny. Stabilizers prevent the spread from separating and becoming watery. Additionally, stabilizing agents contribute to the consistency of the spread.
The most common stabilizers used in cream cheese spread are carrageenan, xanthan gum, and cellulose gum. Seaweed extracts like carrageenan thicken and stabilize spreads. Xanthan gum binds the ingredients together and prevents them from separating. Adding cellulose gum to the spread will increase its creamy texture.
Common uses for cream cheese spread?
Cream cheese spread is a versatile ingredient used in sweet and savory dishes. The spread is excellent for sandwiches, wraps, and other uses.
Do you have to refrigerate the cream cheese spread?
Yes, you should refrigerate the cream cheese spread. Like all processed cheeses, cream cheese spread can spoil if it is not kept refrigerated. It is best to keep the spread in its original packaging and to consume it within the time frame indicated on the package.
When stored properly in the fridge, the cream cheese spread will last for two to three weeks. Once opened, you should use the spread within seven to ten days. If you notice that the cream cheese spread has changed color or texture, or develops mold, discard it immediately.
Can you freeze cream cheese spread?
You can freeze cream cheese spread, but it may change in texture and become crumbly. For best results, wrap the cream cheese spread tightly in a cling wrap or aluminum foil, place it in a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid, and use it within 2-3 months.
If you're looking for a cream cheese spread that won't change in texture when frozen, try a block of cream cheese instead. You can freeze blocks of cream cheese for up to 6 months.
Popular brands of cream cheese spread?
Some of the most popular brands of cream cheese spread include Philadelphia, Kraft, and President. You can find these brands in most grocery stores.
Is cream cheese spread the same as cream cheese?
Answering this question can be a little tricky. Cream cheese spread is not the same as cream cheese, but it is very similar. The main difference between the two is that cream cheese spread is made with less milk and has a smoother, more spreadable consistency. Cream cheese is made with more milk and has a thicker, creamier texture. Both are delicious, but they serve different purposes.
Can I use a cream cheese spread instead of cream cheese?
Can you cream cheese spread for cheesecake? Yes, you can use a cream cheese spread instead of cream cheese for cheesecake. The texture and taste will be slightly different, but the spread will work just fine in the recipe. Keep in mind that the spread is usually thinner than cream cheese, so you may need to adjust the amount you use. You can check the recipe here.
If the cheesecake is too runny, add a little more spread to thicken it up. Conversely, if the cheesecake is too thick, add a little more liquid to thin it out. Overall, using a cream cheese spread in place of cream cheese does not affect the final dish. Being a little flexible with the ingredients will help you achieve the perfect consistency for your cheesecake.
Difference between cream cheese and cream cheese spread
When it comes to cream cheese, there are two main choices: cream cheese and cream cheese spread which can be confusing for some people. So, what is the difference between the two? And which one is better?
1 More fat content:
Cream cheese and cream cheese spread are both delicious, but there's one major difference: cream cheese has more fat content. This means that it's richer and has a more intense flavor. It's because cream cheese is made from milk and cream, whereas cream cheese spread contains milk, water, and cream. If you're looking for something light and delicate, a cream cheese spread is a better option.
Another difference between cream cheese and cream cheese spread is texture. Cream cheese is a soft cheese with a smooth, creamy texture. It is made from milk and cream and sometimes has a slightly tangy flavor. Cream cheese spread is a type of cream cheese that has been whipped, making it lighter and easier to spread. It is often used as a topping on bagels or toast. Why the difference in texture? This is because cream cheese spread contains more water and less fat.
When it comes to flavor, cream cheese is decadent and has a more intense flavor, while cream cheese spread is lighter and has a more delicate flavor. Cream cheese has a higher fat content than cream cheese spread.
Cream cheese has a smooth, velvety texture with a slightly tangy taste. It is rich and creamy, making it perfect for spreading on bagels, toast, or crackers. Cream cheese spread, on the other hand, is made with additional ingredients such as milk, sour cream, or yogurt. This results in a lighter, less tangy taste. While you can use cream cheese spread in the same ways as cream cheese, it is not as well suited for baking or cooking due to its lower fat content.
Cream cheese is slightly tangier than cream cheese spread. Due to its lower sugar content and higher acidity, it is less sweet. Additionally, cream cheese spread often has a sweeter flavor due to the addition of water and sugar. Do you mean cream cheese spread has sugar? Yes, some brands add sugar to their spread to make it more palatable.
Another difference is that cream cheese spread often contains added flavors, such as garlic, onion, or chives, in contrast to plain cream cheese. Taste-wise, both types of cheese have a similar flavor profile, although the added flavors in cream cheese spread can give it a slightly different flavor profile.
This difference is because cream cheese is made with whole milk, while cream cheese spread is made with skim milk.
Cream cheese also contains more fat than cream cheese spread. One ounce of cream cheese contains 9 grams of fat, while one ounce of cream cheese spread contains 7 grams.
So, which one has more calories? Cream cheese or cream cheese spread?
The answer is cream cheese. However, the difference in calories is not significant, and both options are relatively low in calories.
It is common to spread cream cheese on crackers or bread. You can also use it in dips, sauces, and dressings. However, since it has a thinner consistency, it is not suitable for dips or sauces.
7 Shelf life:
Cream cheese has a shorter shelf life than cream cheese spread. This is because it contains more perishable ingredients like milk and cream. Aside from that, cream cheese spread contains preservatives that help extend its shelf life.
Cream cheese has a shelf life of 2-4 weeks, while cream cheese spread has a shelf life of 3-5 months. After opening the cream cheese, consume it within 7-10 days.
Is cream cheese more expensive than cream cheese spread? Cream cheese is more expensive than cream cheese spread. Why is that? It is because cream cheese is a dairy product made from whole milk, while cream cheese spread is a dairy product made from skim milk.
Summary: Cream cheese vs cream cheese spread
- The ingredients in cream cheese are milk and cream, while the ingredients in cream cheese spread are milk, water, and cream.
- Cream cheese has more fat content than cream cheese spread. As a result, it has a richer and more intense flavor.
- The texture of cream cheese is thicker, while the cream cheese spread has a smoother and thinner consistency.
- Cream cheese is richer and has a more intense flavor, while cream cheese spread is lighter and has a more delicate flavor.
- There is less processing involved in cream cheese than in cream cheese spread.
- The shelf life of cream cheese is shorter than that of cream cheese spread.
- You should consume the cream cheese within seven to ten days of opening.
- There is a slight tang to cream cheese compared to cream cheese spread.
- Milk and cream are the ingredients in cream cheese, while milk, water, and cream are in cream cheese spread.
Frequently asked questions:
Why is cream cheese sour?
A starter culture produces lactic acid, which gives cream cheese its sour flavor. Since a fermentation process produces lactic acid in milk, the bacteria consume the lactose in the milk and produce lactic acid as a waste product. This lactic acid gives cream cheese its sour flavor. Live bacteria are also present in cream cheese since it is a fermented product.
Is cream cheese the same as Ricotta?
No, cream cheese and Ricotta are not the same. Ricotta is an Italian cheese made from whey, the liquid leftover from making other types of cheese. The grainy texture of Ricotta makes it ideal for savory dishes such as lasagna. Cream cheese, on the other hand, has a smooth, velvety texture and is used in sweet and savory dishes.
Lactic acid is a natural by-product of milk fermentation, while sour cream and yogurt are also fermented dairy products. The lactic acid gives cream cheese its characteristic tangy flavor and helps thicken the mixture.
So, which is better: cream cheese or cream cheese spread?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It all comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the smooth, creamy texture of cream cheese, while others find that the lumpy consistency of cottage cheese-like cream cheese makes it taste better. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which type of cheese is best for your needs.