Did you know that you can make cottage cheese using only two ingredients? Whole milk and lemon juice. It’s so easy that you wouldn’t break a sweat.
Cottage cheese has a mild flavor and is often added with cream to improve taste. It has lower calories that makes it popular for health conscious.
To put it simply, cheese is a concentrated milk made by curdling the proteins within. Then drained, sometimes pressed and added with salt to make storage life longer. Playing with this process resulted in a plethora of cheese types and brands.
Make cottage cheese the easy way without the need for bacterial culture and rennet. The two are used for industrial cheese making, but it’s not something that you can have easily at home. Use vinegar instead and have a cheese that you’ve never had before.
I’ll also teach you how to make cottage cheese using the old school method. It may take you longer but not long and hard enough to make you sweat.
How to Make Cottage Cheese with Apple Cider Vinegar
For the raw materials, you just need to get two things. One gallon of milk and ¾ cup of apple cider vinegar.
You can use fresh whole milk, pasteurized milk, skim milk, and non-fat milk. If you have access to a dairy farm, go for the raw milk. For non-fat cheese, use non-fat milk or skim milk.
Get ready and start making cottage cheese with apple cider vinegar as coagulant. Doing so will give the end product a unique kick and flavor.
- Pour the milk in a heavy stainless-steel pot.
- Heat it gently, although liquid, milk solid can burn resulting in a bad flavor.
- Watch carefully because your aim is 120°F. I recommend using a stainless steel probe thermometer to do the heating accurately.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t be discouraged. Monitor by dipping a clean finger. If you feel it’s ready for a nice warm bath, then it’s all set.
- Thermometer is relatively cheap and quite handy. Get it from your favorite dollar store the next time. I’m sure you won’t regret it.
- While heating, stir it occasionally. Make sure no milk solids are sticking to the bottom.
- Remove from heat and gently add the apple cider vinegar.
- Stir gently until you see the curdling.
- Cover the pot and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- Then prepare the filter setup. Get a coriander and lay it with a clean cheesecloth or whatever thin cloth you may have. Then place the coriander over a larger bowl to collect the strained whey.
- Gently pour the curdled milk into the filter setup and wait until all the liquid has been drained, about 2 hours or more.
- If you find the cheese too acidic, fully envelop it with cheesecloth and put under running tap water for about 5 minutes.
- Drain again.
- Optionally, add salt to taste and cream if you find it too dry.
How to Make Cottage Cheese with Bacterial Culture and Rennet
You only need 3 ingredients plus a bit of patience;
- 4 liters whole milk
- 125 ml live Kefir that contains mesophilic bacteria
- 10 drops of liquid rennet
Liquid rennet don’t last long, but you won’t have much success with rennet powder.
This old style process to curdle the milk involves action of two factors, the mesophilic bacteria and the rennet. Unlike the acid process which curdles the milk in one go.
It is reliant on temperature. Poor temp control like the use of a lpg stove and not having a trusty thermometer will likely result in failure.
Follow these steps to make cottage cheese with bacterial culture and rennet.
- In a heavy pot, gently heat the milk up to 85ºF. A trusty thermometer and reliable electric stove are nice for this purpose.
- Add live Kefir. Make sure it has live bacteria or else, it won’t work.
- Get ¼ cup of ambient temp water, add in rennet, stir, then mix thoroughly into milk.
- Remove from the heat source and don’t disturb for about 5 hours.
- Here is the tricky part. Maintain the milk temperature between 70-80ºF. Wrap around with a towel or much better if you have an incubator type oven.
- After 5 hours, the surface will become solid and slightly shrink, forming a gap between solid edge and pot side.
- Cut the curds gently to form numerous cubes.
- Drain through cheesecloth and try to squeeze as much water as possible. Alternatively, letting it sit for two hours or more will achieve the same feat.
- If you want to remove the remaining whey, fully wrap the cheese with cheesecloth and place under tap water for a few minutes. Drain.
- Optionally, add salt to taste.
Cottage cheese will last in the fridge for about 5-7 days. Addition of salt and draining more water make it last even longer.
Check my article on Romano cheese substitute.
Don’t Throw Away The Whey
Don’t throw it out. Use the whey to make ricotta cheese.
It’s rich in vitamins and minerals and can be substituted for any recipe that calls for water. Use it for baking, cooking rice, making soup, and making broth.
Whey lasts in the fridge for about 6 months and even more so if frozen.
How to Eat Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a great protein source. In addition, it also contains essential vitamins and minerals.
Eat cottage cheese regularly with fruits, salads, and breads. It’s a great addition to smoothies, dipping sauces and sour cream.
To be able to cook your own food is great. Adding more recipes to the stock knowledge is even greater. To be able to make health cottage cheese right before the meal is so rewarding.
Choose to make quick cottage cheese using only 2-3 ingredients when you’re in a hurry. You can make it on the side while preparing dinner. Then leave some for the next day’s breakfast and lunch.
Try experimenting with the old school cottage cheese method on less busy days. It takes longer but you won’t be sorry.
Get the best milk you can find and if possible, get it straight from the dairy farm. It’s the best way to ensure what you’ll get is not adulterated and is free from any harmful chemicals.
You may also use the typical 5% vinegar from the nearby grocery. Lemon juice is a great alternative and gives a distinct lemon juice flavor. Other citrus extracts are great options. Bear in mind, whatever acid you choose will affect the final flavor. Cottage cheese is great for fruit, vegetables and salads. Also a good substitute for meat due to its high levels of protein, but fewer total calories and lesser fat content.
Check my post on Substitute for Parmesan cheese.