Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to make cottage cheese using rennet: perfect for raw milk!

I continue to explore different things I can make at home that I typically buy at the store. Cottage cheese has been on the list of things to try for quite a while, but I finally gave it a whorl about a month ago. So glad I did, because now that I know how easy it is to make it's become a regular at our home.


Like most cheeses, for every gallon of milk you use, you'll have almost a gallon of whey left over from the cheese making process. I keep the whey in the pot I used to make the cottage cheese in and then the next day heat it up to make fresh ricotta cheese, which is delicious spread on a piece of toast for a breakfast sandwich. Check out my post on how to make ricotta. It's very easy and well worth the little effort!

I have tried several different cottage cheese recipes. Some use lemon or vinegar to make the milk separate into curds, but this version, which uses rennet, is the best in my opinion. I do plan to keep experimenting with other versions so I can pass on a really good recipe that takes advantage of ingredients almost everyone can get their hands on. If you've ever made cheese before, the curd in this recipe is very soft and makes a cottage cheese that is similar in texture to what you'd get at the store. The taste is different, but in my opinion its better!

I found this recipe on NHHoney.com. It's a great site, especially for those who have an appreciation for real milk!


What You'll Need
  2-3 cups of cottage cheese

1 gallon fresh raw milk 
(I don't see why you can't use pasteurized milk if that's your preference)
1/2 cup cultured buttermilk
10 drops liquid rennet
2/3 cup water
Unrefined sea salt to taste
Optional: cream to pour on top

Getting Started
1. In a large pot, stir together milk and buttermilk using a large, non-reactive spoon (wood, plastic or stainless steel). Place pot on stove and begin to warm milk over medium heat until it's about the warmth of babies milk or more exactly 88° F. 

2. In a small bowl, dissolve rennet into the water, stirring well. Drizzle the rennet mixture slowly into the milk while stirring with your spoon. Stir the milk thoroughly to make sure the rennet is well distributed. Cover the pot with a lid and turn heat off on the stove. Move your pot to a cool burner or the counter. (I do this because I have a glass top stove and the residual heat can continue to heat whatever I have on the stove another 10°.

3. Allow the milk mixture to set for about 30 minutes or until you can achieve a clean break by sticking your finger into the curd. A clean break is when you stick you finger into the solid mass, known as curd, and when it is removed it comes out perfectly clean. 

4. Using a large, sharp knife cut through the curd in a grid pattern so that you have about 1/2" squares when you look at the top of the curd. (Cut half inch rows one way, then turn the pot 90° F and cut 1/2" rows again.) 

5. Wash your hands and forearm, making sure they are good and clean.  Using your hands, pull the curds up and continue to slice them into small pieces which are no larger than a 1/2". If the mixture is beginning to cool off, place it back on the stove and heat until it's back in the 80°- 90° F range. As you continue to stir and slice the curds they will begin to reduce in size as the whey comes out of them. After about 10 minutes of stirring and slicing the curds should be ready. 

6. Pour the curds into a cloth lined strainer that is placed over a bowl to catch the whey. I use a non-terry towel. A real cheese cloth would work perfect, but avoid the cheese cloth you typically see at the store, because they don't have a fine enough mesh and the curds can go right through. 

7. After the curds have been separated from the whey, rinse them off with some cool water. Break the curds up into small pieces as you wash them off.

8. Place the now cottage cheese into a bowl, sprinkle with salt and stir. Pour on enough cream to give it the consistency that looks good to you. Cream isn't necessary, just an extra added bonus! Don't throw out your whey, be sure to try making ricotta cheese with it! Enjoy with some fresh fruit, yum! 










21 comments:

  1. I keep meaning to try making cheese but keep putting it off. You make it look so doable. i really should find rennet and give it a try.

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  2. WizzyTheStick: You should try it. You can use rennet for custards and yogurts too. Plus it's fun to learn to make different cheeses! :)

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  3. This looks very simple, and we love cottage cheese. I have done mozzarella almost exactly like that before only added a stretching step to the end. But I used rennet tablets (1/4) of one tablet. Do you think it would be the same proportion as that is what I have on hand?

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  4. Hi Jennie, I would use only an 1/8 of a tablet instead of 1/4. Your right that it's very similar to making mozzarella, but the curd is a little softer, hence less rennet. I'm sure you can use 1/4 of a capsule too, the curd just might be a little more "solid". Let me know how it goes if you try it. Thanks for the comment! :)

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  5. Wow, wow, wow!

    Everything screams amazing. So glad you experimented. So many people never do and will never learn how stuff works or get a feel for it so they can get more out of the final product. Speaking of which, have you ever experimented with not heating the milk? I like your description "temp. of a babies stomach". Very intelligent rational for the heating process!

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  6. Ok,

    Not sure how you get a clean break after only 30 minutes... i'm following your recipe..

    it's going on 1.5 hours now and i still don't have a clean break... it's more like a very soft custard

    any ideas?

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  7. could it be that i had to use powdered milk (mixed in to liquid) then added buttermilk, rennet, etc

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    1. Yep, powder milk does not work the same as regular milk, even ultra pasteurized milk doesn't work the same as flash pasteurized or regular pasteurized milk. I did do a quick search and saw this recipe (http://preparednesspro.com/do-it-yourself-cottage-cheese/) for making cottage cheese from powder milk. Looks like it takes all night to set up. Hope that helps!

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  8. Replies
    1. Hi! You can purchase it online at various places. I've gotten mine from Homestead Supply and Cultures for Health. I have also purchased the liquid type at Whole Foods in their cooler section (where the yogurt is).

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  9. I just made cottage cheese for the first time following your recipe and steps and all I can say is....Wow! The steps are easy, the process a bit time consuming but well worth it. The end product tastes so clean and natural almost hard to explain. Now if only my yogurt making was as successful. If you have any tips... Would love to hear them. I guess I am use to more of a Greek style and mince comes out very soupy still but still great to use for a smoothie/protein shake.

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    1. I know this is an older comment, but wanted to try & help anyway! Have you tried straining the yogurt? My yogurt is usually soupier than I would prefer as well (I use raw, whole milk & a starter culture from Cultures For Health). Once it has "set" & cooled, I let it strain through a fine mesh collander lined with coffee filters. It is amazing how much whey comes out of the yogurt--just keep an eye on it and stop straining it when it is the thickness you prefer, if you let it go too long it will be a cream cheese like consistency. I keep this in the fridge while I strain it, not sure if you need to or not, but I feel better doing that! I end up with a greek-yogurt consistency that is delicious! :) Hope this helps!

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    2. I make yogurt every week- we have used trial and error to work out a system. Grumpy (the hub) prefers tart/thick. Kids like mild/thinner. I warm the raw skimmed milk a bit( still can hold a clean finger in),add yogurt (1 cup for 1/2-1 gallon of milk) and mix. DO NOT waste money on a starter. Any good plain yogurt with live cultures will be fine(I look for the ones with at least 3 strains; like chobani). You can also use last weeks yogurt to continue the strain. I like to add fresh yogurt every 3 or 4 batches.
      Then I put quart jars into an old dehydrator (remove the shelves). The quart jars lift the lid about 1/2 inch off the bottom so it doesn't get too hot. I leave it 6 hrs for kids, and another 6 for grumpy and myself. Then- after scraping off the "skin", dump into a bowl lined with butter cloth (fine woven) or birdseye cloth diapers (don't be tempted to scrape out the bottom of the jar- the bottom has some grittier textured stuff). Tie it like a hobo sack and hang it over the sink. The kids stuff hangs for not more than 1/2 hour (soft but not thick) where the "greek" style hangs for 2 hours. In both cases I return it to a bowl and whip it up with beaters for a few minutes before I call it done.

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    3. I make my yogurt in a very similar way. I have a yogurt post somewhere on this blog and it goes into a couple of helpful hints for making yogurt thicker. I need to revise it though to add some of the other things I do. I haven't made yogurt in a while, have been hooked on kefir. So easy and has way more probiotics. Love it! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Just made it tonight- super easy! I tried to make cottage cheese once before and used Junket tablets but was not impressed. The only problem with this batch is I don't have enough cream- will have to wait until the cream rises from tonight's milking:)

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    1. So glad it worked out and you enjoyed it! It is super easy and super delicious!

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  11. Yum, this turned out really good and the recipe is very easy:)

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    1. Steph I'm glad your the recipe was a success. Isn't it fun to make foods like this from scratch? Who knew it could be so easy.

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  12. Wow! I buy my raw milk from Nunley Farm (NHHoney.com), where Kevin and Kathie Nunley have just a small place and 3 cows (2 calves as of now). They do a terrific job, the cows are sweet and loved. Kathie teaches dairy cooking classes once in a while. I learned how to make this cottage cheese in her kitchen last year. I'd lost my recipe- haven't made it for awhile. I was heading up to pick up some milk and beg the recipe off her again, when I decided to take a peak and see if I could find one that was "similar"(So glad I did). I don't think she has this recipe on her website now, so I'm lucky to find it one yours. This is by far the best cottage cheese I've ever had! Thanks!

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  13. Howdy! Thank you for posting this recipe. What does the buttermilk do? I have a recipe that just uses the Rennet, but doesn't call for buttermilk. I haven't tried it though. Just wondering if the buttermilk helps it set better or if it is used for the flavor. Thanks, Bonnie

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