First, let me say that this won’t work unless you have raw milk available to you. The reason is that raw milk never really goes “bad,” it just sours. You can use it months after it’s left the cow (properly handled, of course). Pasteurized milk, on the other hand, has had its molecular structure altered, and because of that it doesn’t ever sour, it putrefies. This means if it goes bad, it’s not edible. I know, I know, this happenstance eliminates the possibility for many to make cottage cheese using this method, but it’s still interesting to see how people made food 175 years ago.
But if you do have access to raw milk, this makes a wonderful creamy cottage cheese that I love. It’s creamier than store-bought cottage cheese, and the “lumps” are very small. The flavor is a combination of cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese. It doesn’t taste like store-bought cottage cheese because the store-bought stuff is cultured, which gives it a specific flavor. You can make cultured cottage cheese at home, too, if you purchase the culture from an outside source, but this recipe allows you to make your own like folks made it at home long ago. And, it’s easy as pie!
INGREDIENTS & HOW-TO
- 1/2 gallon raw milk
- salt (optional)
- butter (optional)
Take your milk out of the refrigerator and set it in a warm corner (room temperature or higher) until curds form, which will take between 12 and 24 hours, depending upon the temperature of your room. You’ll see the curd development easily as the curds will separate naturally from the whey, as seen at right.
Once the curds form, strain them overnight, making sure not to press them. This can be done in different ways. I took a colander and placed it inside a larger bowl, and then poured my curds into a jelly bag. I left the jelly bag sit in the colander in the refrigerator overnight (you don’t need to refrigerate it). If you don’t have a jelly bag, you can just line your colander with a kitchen towel. Or if you don’t want to save your whey, you can secure a jelly bag or towel (tied at the ends) to the kitchen sink spigot and just let it drip into the sink.
The next day, turn your cottage cheese into a clean bowl. At this point you can choose to add more cream if you want it super creamy (I don’t find this necessary), butter for additional richness, or salt or spices to taste. I like it plain, myself. I just dump the cheese into a bowl and call it good.
I eat my cottage cheese with fruit and nuts, and I use it in recipes for things like homemade ranch dressing, dips, or anywhere I’d use cream cheese, sour cream, or sometimes plain yogurt. It has a wonderful flavor, and is so easy to make that I use cottage cheese in many ways. It is really only limited by your imagination!
Note: The references for this came from the 1839 publication, “The Kentucky Housewife,” by Mrs. Lettice Bryan. The original text reads: “Take a large bowl of milk* that is just beginning to turn sour, cover it and set it in the corner where it will keep lukewarm till if forms a curd. Then place a linen cloth over a sieve; put in your curd, fold over the corners of the cloth to keep out the dust, and let it drain till next morning, without pressing it in the least. Then turn it in an earthen dish, add as much rich, sweet cream as will make it a little soft; add a large spoonful of butter to each pint of the curd, mixing it in a very little salt, and work it with a spoon till th whole is very smoothly mixed. Then put it in a china bowl, and set it in a cool place till the tea-table is ready.”