Homemade Cottage Cheese Recipe (makes 1 1/2 lbs)
- 1 gallon pasteurized milk, skim or whole
- 1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water (if using store bought milk)*
- 1 package direct-set mesophilic starter, 1/4 teaspoon bulk mesophilic starter or 4 ounces prepared mesophilic starter
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/4 rennet tablet) dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
Helpful Resources :
- Warm the milk to 72F. If using calcium chloride*, add it now. Add the starter and mix thoroughly. I usually make this cheese in a large, stainless steel pot with a very thick bottom. If you have a large double boiler, that might also be helpful.
- Add one tablespoon of the diluted rennet,and mix thoroughly with a gentle up and down motion. (Tip : Use a potato masher to blend the rennet up and down through the milk.) Cover and let set at 72F for four to eight hours, or until the curd coagulates. The curd will be rather soft.
- Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes. Allow to set, undisturbed, for ten minutes. Use a long knife that reaches all the way to the bottom of your pan, and move smoothly and gently – don’t tear the curd. Try to keep your cubes as uniform as possible so your cheese cooks evenly.
- Increase the heat by three degrees every five minutes, until the temperature reaches 90F, stirring gently to prevent the curds from matting. If you have a large double boiler, you may prefer to use that instead for more even, gentle heat.
- Increase the heat by one degree per minute, until the temperature reaches 110F, stirring gently to keep the curds from matting. Again, watch your heat and try not to heat too fast.
- Maintain the temperature at 110F for twenty minutes, or until the curds are sufficiently cooked and no longer have a pudding-like interior. Stir every few minutes.
- When the curds are sufficiently cooked, let them settle to the bottom of the pot for five minutes.
- Pour off the whey. Pour the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth into a knot. To make the cheese less sour, wash the curds by dipping the bag several times into a bowl of cool water.
- Let the bag drain for several minutes. Then, rinse the bag in a bowl of ice water to cool and place the bag in a colander to drain for five minutes.
- Untie the bag and place the curds in a bowl. Break up any pieces that have matted. If desired, add the heavy cream to produce a creamier texture. Add the salt and herbs to taste, if desired.
- Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
*Note : This cheese needs to sit for several hours to culture, so make sure you plan ahead so you have enough time. It takes anywhere from six to ten hours, start to finish, with a four hour rest time. It doesn’t require constant attention.
*Note : Calcium chloride is added to milk that has been commercially pasteurized because the heating process decreases the amount of calcium in the milk, which means that the rennet can’t do its job as well. To pasteurize milk at home, heat the milk in a clean, non-reactive pot to 145F, and hold it at that temperature for 30 minutes. Then, chill in an ice bath to 40F, and refrigerate until ready to use. I’m not going to tell you whether to pasteurize your milk or not – we use raw milk – freedom of food choice is yours.