I've been reading that you can, indeed can cheeses, but why would you want to? Well, I'm glad you asked!
I've been reading a lot in the news that there may be food shortages soon due to droughts in Russia, the earthquake in Japan, all the snow storms and cold weather across the Midwest of the USA and on, and on, and on... and with all that, and the rising cost of gasoline, which will trickle down to the trucking industry and they will have to increase their shipping costs, which will make it more expensive to ship my cheese to my local grocery store... so it will cost more to buy...
And with the economy going the way it's going... well you get the picture... my cheese is probably going to cost more soon and there COULD be a shortage of it... so...
... if I get a hankering for some cheesecake or a bagel and schmear, whatever shall I do if I can't find cream cheese at Kroger? or if I CAN find it and it costs $5 or even $10 for an 8-oz. package, I'm going to REALLY have to want a cheesecake to pay that price!
Right now, as a matter of fact this past week, cream cheese was on sale at my local grocery store for $1.39 for an eight ounce package, I bought four and decided I'd give cream cheese canning a try... if THIS experiment works out, I'll buy more!
**OK, now for the disclaimer... I searched and found directions on how to can cream cheese, HOWEVER, I did NOT find and "approved" method (the FDA, Ag Extension services, etc. do not have an approved method for canning cheese)... Sooooooo, use at your own risk. This is just for information and to let you know what I did.Remember, this is not an FDA approved method.**
I have read extensively about folks claiming to have used cream cheese as long as 5 years after canning and have not become sick from any of them, even when eating the cheese right out of the jar. But, again, the FDA says that this is not an approved way to preserve cheese, so . . . use at your own risk. Some folks melt the cheese in a double boiler, then spoon it into the sterilized jars. Sometimes the cheese sticks to the bottom of the pan, and the whole thing is a big, gloppy mess. Here’s what I did... I think it's a better way that’s cleaner, faster and easier. First, I sterilized half-pint jars by boiling them for 20 minutes, turned upside down in a saucepan. I sterilized new canning lids according to package instructions. I let them simmer in water about 5 minutes, then keep them in hot water until I need them.
Next, I mushed ("mushed" is not a technical canning term, just so you know) about 6 ounces of slightly softened cream cheese into each half pint jar.
Then I placed the jars (without lids) on a rack in my boiling water bath canner, to which I had already added some water. Do not put the lid on the canner while the cheese is melting. You want the water to come about halfway up the jars. Any higher and it bubbles into the jars if it gets to boiling. Then, as the cheese melts, I added more cheese if I needed to until the cheese filled the jars to within about ½ inch of the top.
When it all melted, I removed the jars from the canner, wiped the rims with a damp cloth (a little vinegar on cloth helps remove any greasy residue), put the lids on the jars tightening them down pretty tightly.
Then I proceeded with the boiling water bath for 40 minutes. (This is the Extension Service method of doing a boiling water bath.)
After the 40 minutes in the boiling water bath, I removed the jars from the water with a jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter.
Leave the jars undisturbed until completely cooled. Check to make sure all the lids have sealed before labeling and storing. I love the sound of the "ping" of a jar sealing... such a satisfying sound!
Now, no matter who messes with the prices or availability of my cream cheese in the future, I can take advantage of sales NOW and have a bagel and schmear any time I want to... if I have bagels... Hmmm I don't suppose you can CAN bagels?
Cream Cheese in a jar, how pretty! I think I need a cheesecake... NOW!