Sunday, June 17, 2012

How to make Cottage Cheese:

A bowl of Cottage Cheese

This is something that was made regularly at our farm when I was growing up.  Cottage cheese is also one of the simplest cheeses to make.  My mother made it from naturally soured milk that is hung up in an old pillow case or some similar cloth bag to allow the curds to be separated from the whey that was filtered off through the cloth bag.

You can use either milk that is store bought or milk that you produce on your own farm.  Place the milk into a shallow container and cover to allow it to naturally sour.  Using milk that hasn’t been homogenized works better!

This is the way the author’s mother made cottage cheese by the use of wild bacteria to sour the milk and straining it through a cloth to separate the curds from the whey.  There is a better way.  This method was handed down in her family for many generations on the family farm in Bavaria.

The modern method of making cottage cheese is similar, but by using a butter milk culture you are sure of your consistency and don’t have to fear that your cheese making efforts don’t lead to either a mess or the possibility the cheese you make could cause you to get sick. 

You can either buy buttermilk at your local market for this at you local market, or make it yourself.  There are two different processes that you can do to make buttermilk.  One process is to make butter.  This is done by churning the cream until the butter separates from the butter milk.  Most people don’t own a churn, so you can also make butter by placing the cream in a large bowl and stirring it with a large spoon until the butter separates.

The other method works by adding some acid, the juice of one lemon, to the milk and let it set around in a cool place for 10 to 12 hours, and through natural processes it will turn to buttermilk.

Whichever method you choose this is a basic process for making practically all chesses.

Fresh buttermilk has to be “young” look at the expiration date listed on the carton to see how old it is, and buy the one with the latest expiration date.  If you use old buttermilk, the bacteria have lost their strength, and will not work right.

Yet another method for making cottage cheese calls for the use of rennet, an enzyme that you can buy in your local market.

Cottage cheese culture is made from a small quantity of cottage cheese added to a pint of buttermilk allowing it to incubate at room temperature for 3 or 4 hours before adding it to a gallon of milk that is in a large bowl or pot.  This will yield about 1.3 pounds of cottage cheese along with a considerable amount of whey that is filtered off.

The most common method of making cottage cheese is called the acid, or small curd method, and takes about 14 hours to complete.  The other method uses rennet, or the large curd method.  This requires about 5 hours too complete.

Either method requires that you keep the milk at 72 to 75 degrees F for the prescribed length of time.  Use 14 hours for small curd cottage cheese, or 5 hours for large curd.

After the curds have been properly formed it is time to allow the cottage cheese to be separated from the whey.  This is accomplished by allowing the whey to drain away from the curds by suspending the mixture in a cloth bag that is used as a filter.  You can place the cloth bag into a colander over a pot for this process or hang it up over a pot to collect the whey.

In the small curd process the curds should be washed briefly in cold water to remove the acid from the cheese.  Place the cheese in clean containers that have been sterilized for storage in your refrigerator.  You can use plastic containers for this purpose.


Homemade Cottage Cheese, Harold J. Bassett,

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