Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How To Make Homemade Cottage Cheese

"When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be."

-Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, 2009

This post accompanies my talk on BTO for Tuesday March 15th, 2011.

It's super easy to make your own homemade cottage cheese. Even easier than making ricotta. It's easier because the milk only has to get to 120 degrees, and that happens pretty quick. The directions are straightforward, pour vinegar in heated milk, wait for curds to separate from whey, and strain the curds from the whey. Later add a little cream back in the mix for a creamy delicious treat. If you are watching your fat intake go ahead and add a little milk back in, or even add a little yogurt, if you'd like.

the whey separating from the curds

straining the curds from the whey

I purchase vinegar by the gallon because it has so many uses. For cleaning it's great. You can also add it to your wash instead of fabric softener for softening clothes.

the finished curds

I think it's much better than store bought cottage cheese. The curds alone taste a little like mozzarella cheese. They are soft and have a nice texture. A little half and half or cream added back in is super delicious.

I used half nonfat milk and half 2% only because I had a little from each carton left, only nonfat would be fine. Raw milk would give it even more flavor.

 I made this using a 1/2 gallon of milk, you can increase it to one gallon easily by doubling it. The half gallon of milk only gave me about 1 cup of curds, so plan accordingly. It only lasts about 3 or 4 days in the fridge so only make as much as you will eat in that time.

Homemade Cottage Cheese

1/2  gallon milk (8 cups) (2,000 ml, or 2 liters) skim (nonfat) or 2% or whole raw milk
1/3 cup (100 ml) white vinegar
a pinch or 2 of salt
a few tablespoons of milk or cream to add at the end to each serving

Heat the milk in a large non reactive (not aluminum) saucepan over medium heat. Stir it often and don't turn up the heat too much because milk likes to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. 

Heat until it reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, 49 degrees Celsius. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Add the vinegar and give it a good stir, at this point you will start to see the curds separating from the whey. The whey is the greenish liquid. The riboflavin or vitamin B2 gives it that green hue.

 Let it sit for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Line a colander with a thin clean tea towel or cheesecloth set over a large bowl. Pour the curds over the colander to strain the whey. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Now rinse the curds by holding the towel or cheesecloth with the curds in it over cold water. Rinse it for a few minutes, until the curds are cold. While you are rinsing it, break up the curds with your fingers.

Squeeze most of the moisture out of it. Transfer it to a bowl. Add a few pinches of salt and stir. If you will be eating it now, go ahead and mix in a few tablespoons per serving of milk or cream, or yogurt for a creamy texture. If you aren't eating it now, store the curds without anything added in the fridge for a few days.


Lee said...

I love cottage cheese, this is great, sometimes I have leftover milk with nothing to do with it. So I may give it a try.

Leanne said...

What a great idea! And a fraction of the sodium that commercially produced cottage cheeses have. Can't wait to try it!

Melanie said...

I definitely need to try this! I'm kinda tripping out that cheese = milk + acid + temp

vary the acid and temp and you get different cheese? weird!

Blog looks awesome!

The Alchemist said...

Mel- Thanks! and I know cheese making is a trip.

Erin said...

This definitely looks doable! I eat cottage cheese every day and would love to make my own.

As an aside, I just started adding vinegar to my laundry and am experimenting with it as a cleaner.

Unknown said...

I just tried this with raw milk but my whey didn't separate properly! It is milky and white. Any ideas of what I could do with it now? It is milky, white and I suppose more like skim milk?

The Alchemist said...

Lisa, sorry I have no idea what could have happened.

Unknown said...

I tried it again today because the flavor was amazing last time - and I added a little bit extra vinegar than I did last time (I think I underestimated!) and it came out perfect!!!! :)

The Alchemist said...

Lisa G. - That's great! I'm so happy it worked out. Thanks for letting me know!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

How much does this recipe make?

The Alchemist said...

Samantha - I'm sorry I didn't measure how much it made. Looking at the photo of the finished curds, my guess would be about 2 cups.

Anonymous said...

Made this using lemon juice instead of vinegar (I have vinegar sensitives). It tastes great. More like ricotta than cottage cheese. But I did find the whey to be white and thick. Think I might use that whey and try again with it to see if I can get some more out of it. I am excited though by how easy it was and how yummy! Thanks!

Joy Jackson said...

The same thing happened to me as Lisa G. I used organic whole milk and measure the vinegar properly. I'm hesitant to make it again since I just ruined a half gallon of milk. Any suggestions anyone?

The Alchemist said...

Joy Jackson- I'm sorry that happened to you. Perhaps you needed a little more vinegar like Lisa did. The only thing I can think of happening is perhaps variations in the milk we used, since it worked well for and others in this amount.

Anonymous said...

We used Raw milk and measured the vinegar at 1/3 cup as per the recipe. After the 30 minute cool-down, it was still milky and the curd and whey had not separated. So, we add more vinegar (about another 1/3 of a cup) stirred it again, and the curd separated immediately. The curd tasted just like ricotta cheese (perfect!). Also, we saved out the whey too, and found it to be a very tasty drink -- a little sour but more of a sweet and tangy flavor and had kind of like a milk-shake texture. Thanks for sharing your recipe, as we will be making it again.

Unknown said...

Do you think this would work to use goats milk?