I’ve wanted to try to make cottage cheese for some time.
Growing up, my family would visit the Amish. They had a real easy way of making cottage cheese. Which they loved… but, made me want to puke. I remember seeing the jar of milk, which they simply left to set on the cupboard till it curdled. This was then strained and called cheese. 🤢 Perhaps this is ‘real’ cottage cheese… and I need a stronger stomach, but, I am glad that a cultured cottage cheese, without a strong taste (or smell!) is also VERY easy to make.
I learned how to make this from another Amish lady, several years ago. I don’t know why I haven’t tried it before, myself. It has a very pleasant taste. Really much like store bought cottage cheese. My children were pleased! And so was I.
Heavy bottomed stainless steel pan
1-1/2 gallons skim milk (cream removed and reserved) or fat free milk
1-1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 1%), or saved culture
Salt, to taste
Cream, reserved or 1/2-2/3 cup (optional)
Bring milk to about the temperature of baby bath water. (I actually started with cool milk…and didn’t warm it! 🙄) Stir in the buttermilk or culture. (I’ll tell you more about saving a culture, later.) Let set in a warm place, covered till it is set. This should take about 8-12 hours, I think. When I left it on my slightly warm cooktop in the evening, it was set by morning. When I left it to set in my cool kitchen, it still wasn’t set by the end of the day. Back on the warm cooktop, and the next morning it was set.
Cut the curd:
With a knife, score the set milk into about half inch squares. Cut straight down all the way through. Then turn your knife and cut again starting at the top and cutting toward the sides at an angle, towards the left all the way across, and then score again at an angle to the right. You should have rough cut squares or pieces.
Begin to warm the curd on medium low heat. Do not scorch. 😉 Give it a gentle turn with a spoon here and there. The curds will begin to separate from the whey. Let it continue to cook on low heat till the curds have mostly shrunk into about 1/4″ pieces, and the curds and whey are hot. Let cool.
Strain the curds from the whey. You can save the whey for other uses. Rinse the curds gently, but well, in cool water. Drain.
Salt the curds. Surprisingly, the flavor of the cottage cheese is mild, but it really needs enough salt to bring the flavor out.
If you want a fat free cottage cheese, just add salt, no cream. This will be more of a dry curd cheese. There may be something else you can add for moisture/flavor, but I haven’t tried any fat free options for this, yet. I plan to use the fat free cheese in baking.
For a more regular cottage cheese, salt the rinsed curds and add cream. I added about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of cream to a batch. I started with fat free milk.
The Amish woman who told me how to make this removed and saved the cream from her milk before culturing it. Then after the cottage cheese was made, she had that cream to add back.
Below, I have three batches setting.
Another lady told me that keifer will work as a starter. I haven’t tried that yet, but that sounds neat.
My Amish friend would save some of the whey from each previous batch to use as a starter in her following batch.
I hope you try this. It really is much easier than it sounds!!