Monday, June 27, 2011

Cottage Cheese (and Ricotta)

You've bought too much milk and don't know what to do with it?
You're suddenly part of a dairy co-op? (Hey, it happens.)

This is milk in a different form- and it takes up less fridge space than a gallon of milk.
And it's very simple.
AND it tastes better than store-bought cottage cheese.
It's actually got a flavor like sweet and milky fresh mozzarella. Of course, this depends on the salt content...

Simple cheese making is a good project for kids in a science experiment type of fashion- and it may elicit a nice "wow" effect.
The milk doesn't get so hot that it'll burn (just be careful not to splash).
Warmer than body temperature at 98.7 F, 120 F might be more like very warm bathwater.

Eat it with:
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries
tomatoes, sea salt, black pepper, basil
lemon zest
with crêpes...

I recently read a little article about paneer (mostly because I like cheese and happened to come across this article). Paneer is another fresh cheese, Indian in origin, a vegetarian protein source. It seems to be pretty much the same as cottage cheese, but the curds are pressed into a more solid form, sort of like a block of tofu. It's then often cubed and added to a variety of dishes. If you've never had it, perhaps the next time you're in an Indian restaurant you should order something with paneer.

With the milky whey that you drain off, you can turn around and make ricotta cheese (because you might as well get the most out of the milk you bought).

Cottage Cheese
makes about 2 cups

1 gallon (16 c) whole milk
2/3 c white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/2-1 t kosher salt
1/4-1/3 c heavy cream

Heat the milk in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat until it reaches 120 degrees F (the outside of the pan is quite warm, but bubbles don't yet appear in the milk).
Remove the pan from the heat and add vinegar. Stir slowly for about 2 minutes.
Cover the pan and set aside for 30 minutes.
Place a large sieve or colander over a large bowl or pan.
Line the sieve with a tea towel (a smooth flour sack towel, not a plush towel) or several layers of cheesecloth. Ladle or carefully pour the curds and whey through the towel. Pick up the towel and squeeze out the excess whey.
Place the now dry curds in a bowl and toss with salt.
If eating immediately, fold the cream into the cheese curds. If using later, add the cream just before serving.
Store in a jar in the refrigerator.


Ricotta Cheese

Let the whey rest a few hours after draining the cottage cheese.

Add 1/2 c whipping cream to the whey for extra creaminess if desired.
Place the leftover (milky) whey in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Slowly heat to the boiling point, stirring occasionally to keep the curds from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture reaches a boil, you may add an extra 1/4 c vinegar if desired. Remove the pan from the heat and let it sit at room temperature until it is cool enough to handle easily.
Strain out the ricotta cheese curds with a small, fine-mesh strainer (or spoon the mixture into several layers of cheesecloth placed in a strainer).

Use in salads, omelettes, on little toasts with some herbs...

And the whey leftover form ricotta making?
If you want you can drink it, use it in breadmaking, use as part of a smoothie...

I know dogs really like to drink it...


  1. I probably should have mentioned that if you make ricotta solely with whey, you're not going to get very much ricotta. After all, hopefully most of the milk solids went to making the original batch of cheese you made.
    Another way to make ricotta utilizes milk, not whey.
    You boil some milk (and cream if desired), add an acid (lemon juice, white vinegar)and a little salt, simmer and stir for a few minutes until is begins to curdle.
    Pour into a cheesecloth lined sieve and let the cheese drain at least an hour.

    Maybe I'll put something more concrete up another time...

  2. Looks like this is so easy and a :must try: IF it really does taste better