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Homemade cottage cheese is simple to make and a delight to the taste buds. Like cheese, large curd sweet cottage cheese can be made with rennet, which is a substance that causes milk to curdle. Small curd cottage cheese, which has more of a tart taste, can even be made without the rennet. The most important factor when making cottage cheese to prevent the curds from getting tough and rubbery as a result of the temperature rise. It must be limited to 5 degrees or less during each 5-minute period of cooking. To do this you will need an easy to ready thermometer. You will also need two large pans that can be used as a double boiler. It is easier to work with larger quantities of milk to raise the temperature gradually.
To begin making large curd cottage cheese you will need to heat two gallons of pasteurized skim milk or reconstituted non-fat dry milk until it has reached a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add 1\2 cup of unpasteurized buttermilk. Crush 1\4 of a rennet tablet and dissolve it in
1\4 cup cool water. Then mix the rennet solution in with the milk thoroughly. Continue to keep this mixture at an even temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit for five hours or until the milk coagulates and breaks away clean from a spoon. Remove from the stove and cut the curd into 1\2 inch cubes then heat the curds and liquid residue very slowly until it reaches a temperature between 110 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature should be maintained for approximately 1\2 hour or until a lump of the curd holds together when pressed between the thumb and forefinger. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a piece of cheesecloth and hang it to drain. When the drippings from the whey have almost stopped immerse the cheesecloth bag in cold water and stir the cheese gently with a spoon to rinse all the curds. Hang the bag so the curds can drain again and then gradually mix in 5 to 6 teaspoons of salt. If you like your cottage cheese moist you can mix a tiny bit of cream with the curds before serving.
When making small curd cottage cheese you will need to heat two gallons of pasteurized skim milk or reconstituted nonfat dry milk to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and then stir in 1\4 cup unpasteurized buttermilk. Stir this mixture thoroughly and then cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place the pan in a warm place for 16 to 24 hours or until the milk coagulates. Then cut the curds into 1\4 inch cubes and heat in their liquid slowly until they reach a temperature of 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintain this temperature for 1\2 hour or until the curds hold together when squeezed. Pour the mixture into cheesecloth and drain until only a small amount of dripping is present. Rinse the curds in cold water and allow to drain again. Pour into a bowl and add the same amount of salt as with the large curd cottage cheese. Again, if you prefer your cottage cheese to be creamy, you can add a bit of cream to the curds and stir well before serving.