Thursday, May 5, 2011

Homemade Cottage Cheese

Mmm.   Cottage cheese.   Creamy, a little tart, a little salty.   Great with pineapple.   Or tomatoes.   Or tuna.  Or on salad.   Or salt and pepper the way my dad ate it.   [Come to think of it, that was the way my dad ate everything.   Except pie.]  

Anyway.  I love cottage cheese.  K1 does, too. K2 does, too.  So, I used my last gallon of fresh milk from The Swiss Connection to make some homemade cottage cheese. 

By the way, cottage cheese and farmer cheese are the same thing.    Farmer cheese is British.   I think.   Maybe.    At any rate, it's not Hoosier.   

Making cheese is a lot like making bread.   It's a zen thing.   You have to become one with the curd, one with the dough.   It takes time.   You can't rush it.   You can't force it.  You have to work with it.  You have to let it guide you.   If you do, then the results are spectactular. 

Making cheese is a freakin' life lesson.


Anyway.   I followed the recipe for cottage cheese in Ricki's book, Home Cheese Making.   This is the basic process:
  • Heat the milk to 72 degrees.   I used a gallon of fresh milk [minus 2 cups of cream that I used for the mascarpone.
  • Add mesophilic culture and stir well.
  • Let sit at 72 degrees for 16-24 hours.
  • Cut the curd into 1/4 inch cubes and let sit.
  • Raise the temperature slowly to 112 degrees over about an hour [Ricki gives explicit instructions]
  • As the temp rises, the curds and whey separate.  When the curds are hard enough, put it all in a collander lined with cheesecloth to drain.   Gather the corners and twist around to make a cheese ball. 
  • If you want to have less tart cheese, dip the whole ball in ice water a few times.   
  • Drain for 5 minutes.  
  • Salt [We used about 1 T of sea salt].
You can eat it right away.   I kind of like it very fresh, at room temp.   A lot. 
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