Cottage Cheese

Commercial cottage cheese is made from cow’s milk and has a mild flavor and moist texture, with large or small curds.

The acidity of homemade cottage cheese may vary with the curd size.

Large-curd cottage cheese tends to be more acidic because it uses rennet for coagulation. The curd size of commercial cottage cheese is simply a matter of the processing.

“Farmer’s cheese” and “pot cheese” are names given to fresh cheeses that are similar to cottage cheese; they are a little firmer and drier.

Cottage cheese is equally good made with whole, low-fat, and nonfat milk, and it’s extremely versatile. It goes well with fresh vegetables or condiments, such as peppers, olives, or pimientos, as well as with fruits, such as pineapple, peaches, or berries.

Low-fat cottage cheese can be used to replace higher-fat cream cheese in desserts such as cheesecake and pastry fillings, and it’s good in savory baked dishes such as lasagna.

LARGE-CURD COTTAGE CHEESE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 gallon milk, whole, low-fat, or nonfat
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup cultured buttermilk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt

I give a recipe for large-curd cottage cheese because it’s easier to make than small-curd cottage cheese, which takes about 30 hours. To make creamed cottage cheese, stir a little heavy cream or half-and-half into large-curd cottage cheese just before serving.

1/ Pour the milk into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and heat over low heat to 95°F. Check temperature with a thermometer.

2/ Dissolve the rennet in the water in a small cup. Stir the dissolved rennet into the milk for 30 seconds. Stir in the buttermilk. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour or until solid curds form.

3/ Cut curds into 1-inch pieces. Heat the curds with the whey over low heat to 110°F, stirring gently to bring curds from the bottom to the top (stir for the first 5 minutes, then every 5 minutes). It will take about 30 minutes for the curds to reach 110°F.

4/ Pour or ladle the curds into a colander lined with a double layer of butter muslin. Let the whey drain about 5 minutes, then gather together the edges of the muslin and rinse the cheese under cold water, squeezing while rinsing.

5/ Squeeze the cheese dry, then transfer to a medium bowl and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use or up to 2 days.