Our family likes cheese. A lot. I don’t know if that’s a regional thing because my husband isn’t so crazy about it. As for my daughter, I have to cut her off from cheese or she’ll eat it with every meal. Now, when I say I like cheese, I don’t mean I like gobs and gobs of it. I don’t like macaroni and cheese, I don’t like extra cheese on my pizza, and I definitely don’t like fake “cheese” flavored foods (read: Cheetos, Velveeta, and the like). What I really like are different flavors of cheeses: camembert, blue-veined, swiss, munster, cheddar, gorgonzola… ah! The list goes on. Creamy goodness – all of it!
About two years ago I started making my own cheeses and dairy products. I’ve ventured a little into some of the simple hard cheeses like manchego, and hope to have Hubby make me a cheese press over the long winter (hint, hint!). I also aim to get into some of the mold strains and waxes soon. In the meantime, what I make most of is mozzarella, cream cheese, farmer’s cheese, labneh, clotted cream, and sometimes cottage cheese.
Yes, I do keep raw milk, but did you know that YOU can make cottage cheese at home with plain store-bought milk?
- 1 gallon milk (preferably not ULTRA-pasteurized as it doesn’t always listen to directions)
- ¼ tsp liquid rennet OR ¼ junket tablet mixed into ¼ cup non-chlorinated water (you will only need 1 Tbsp of this solution)
- ½ cup (4 oz) cultured buttermilk
- ¼ to ½ cup cream
If you have one large enough, use a double boiler to make this cheese as it helps to prevent scalding.
- Heat milk to 70-72 degrees. Remove milk from heat.
- Add buttermilk and stir thoroughly. Then add 1 Tbsp rennet solution and stir thoroughly once more.
- Cover milk and allow to rest at room temperature for about 4-5 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when it breaks clean from the side like custard.
- Use a long handled knife or spatula to cut the cheese into ½ inch-ish cubes, then cut those cubes diagonally in either direction (so you make an “X” in each cube).
- Allow the cheese to rest while you heat your double boiler (if you’re using one) up to 115 degrees. Insert the pan full of milk. Ideally the milk will heat slowly – about 2-4 degrees every 5 minutes. You may need to remove the liner pan of milk occasionally if it’s heating too quickly. Warm the milk up to 110-115 degrees. Then allow it to rest for 20 minutes, holding at that temperature.
- The curds will start to form nicely now. Test a few by squeezing them – if they’re not firm enough, cook them longer. But be careful – you can cook them too long leaving you with what I call “squeaky” cheese curds.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth or use a fine mesh strainer. Scoop the curds out into the cloth or strainer, and let it drain for about 5 minutes. Bring the corners of the cheesecloth together, if you’re using it, and dip the cheese in ice-cold water several times. Gently squeeze any extra water and whey out of the curds then allow to drain for another 5 minutes.
- Transfer your curds into a bowl, breaking apart any large pieces.
- Add cream to your liking and eat!
- You can keep this up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Makes approximately one pound of cheese.
Growing up I always added a sprinkle of sugar to my cottage cheese, but some people use salt and pepper, add fruit, or eat it plain. How do you eat your cottage cheese?
Jennifer can also be found blarging at Unearthing this Life and other sundry places across the interwebs.