I've always liked cottage cheese. There's something very satisfying about those little curds in a smooth bath of cream. Not too heavy but rich in flavor and mouthfeel. Here at The Beverage People we have many cheese recipes, from basic to advanced, but we didn't have one for cottage cheese. It surprised me. “How hard could it be?”, I thought.
Interestingly, the recipes I found varied in difficulty though not too much in ingredients. I wanted to experiment with several of the recipes and come up with one that would be easy enough and delicious. I tried three different recipes, each with their own unique qualities. One took a couple hours and was pretty straightforward for anyone who is somewhat familiar with basic cheesemaking. Another took multiple hours and was more advanced than the first. The third was on the more advanced end, utilizing pH as an indicator of when to move on to the next step, as opposed to time. In the end, I found the simplest recipe produced the most successful results out of all my variations, and it was the tastiest. It utilizes basic cheesemaking and kitchen supplies and only takes 3 hours to make. I made many batches using different cultures to see how flavor was affected.
I served my various recipes to the staff of The Beverage People at one of our bi-weekly staff training meetings. I also included a commercial example from the same brand of milk that I used for all of the experiments (Clover-Stornetta whole milk). It was a blind tasting where everyone gave feedback and chose their favorite. It was interesting to taste how bland the commercial version was in comparison! There was certainly flavor variations based on the culture used and in the end, we all agreed that the MM100/101 Mesophilic culture gave us the best taste. Based on my own experience with the various recipes, my tweaks with cultures/techniques/time, and everyone's feedback from the tasting, the following recipe produced a darn tasty cottage cheese that was quickly gobbled up in my household. We hope you enjoy it as well!
Our recipe was developed after many experiments making cottage cheese. It utilizes basic cheesemaking and kitchen supplies, and only takes 3 hours. A blind taste test chose MM100/101 Mesophilic culture as the tastiest culture variation but any Mesophilic (ie Farmhouse, Aroma B) culture is acceptable. After tasting this cottage cheese, we think you'll forget all about the commercial stuff.
1/2 gallon Whole Milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 cup Heavy Cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/8 tsp MM100/101 Mesophilic Culture (or another Mesophilic Culture)
1/8 tsp Calcium Chloride, dissolved in 2 Tbs of non-chlorinated water
1/8 tsp Vegetarian Rennet, dissolved in 2 Tbs of non-chlorinated water
1 tsp. Salt
Sanitized kitchen pot of non-reactive metal (at least 3 quarts with lid)
Optional but recommended: Sous Vide Immersion Heater/Circulator provides an ideal heat source. Click for discussion.
Pour the milk into a sanitized pot on the stove. Turn on the burner to a very low heat and begin bringing the temperature up to 94 degrees F.
When you've reached temperature, remove from heat. Add the MM100/101 culture and stir gently using 20 top/bottom strokes. Cover the pot with a lid and let ripen for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, add the Calcium Chloride. Stir into the milk with 20 top/bottom strokes. Follow this with the addition of the Rennet, and 20 top/bottom strokes.
Cover pot and allow to sit for 45 minutes. Using a sanitized curd cutting knife, check for a clean break. If this doesn't happen, wait another 15 or so minutes and check again. You should notice the yellowish-clear whey separating from the curd in the area where you placed your cut.
Begin cutting the curd into 1/2 inch strips then rotate the pot 90 degrees and do the same. Take your sanitized, perforated ladle and cut the curd horizontally in two or three places. Let the curd rest a couple minutes.
Gently twist the pot side to side to release the whey from the curds. Turn the burner on low heat and slowly bring the temperature up to 110 degrees F. When you've reached temperature, remove from heat and cover the pot. Let rest a few minutes while you line your colander with cheesecloth. If you want to keep the whey for making bread dough or adding to smoothies, place the colander over a pot and gently ladle the curd into it. Periodically rinse the curd with cold, filtered water. You should notice the curd breaking into smaller pieces while still retaining a curd-like consistency.
Once all of the curd is ladled into the cheesecloth-lined colander and rinsed gently with cold, filtered water, cover with a lid and allow to drain for 20-30 minutes. Then, gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and twist to remove any remaining whey.
Place ½ the curds into a bowl, salt with ½ tsp, and stir gently to distribute the salt in the curds. Place the remaining ½ of curds into the same bowl and add the other ½ tsp of salt, stirring gently. The intent is to achieve an even salt distribution.
Add ¼ cup Heavy Cream and stir gently. Place in a covered container in the fridge. This cheese will keep for 1-2 weeks (if you don't eat it all up ASAP!).
Yield: One pint, approximately
Time required: 3 hours
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