Friday, November 15, 2013
good morning everybody! I am happy to report that the cottage cheese experiment was a success. last night for dinner I had a nice serving of my very own homemade cottage cheese over some tomatoes sprinkled with some chopped red and yellow pepper.
after I hung the cheesecloth bag up to drain, I went off to have breakfast with my friends and do a bunch of stuff. I think I was gone for about 3.5 hours. when I got home, the bag had drained and I had a good sized solid mass of curd left. I poured it into a bowl--it essentially plopped out in one big mass. put it in the frig and let it get chilled.
then I took some and mashed it with a fork, added a little heavy cream because I happened to have it, and some skim milk to moisten it. salt and pepper and it was time to taste.
it was really very good. had a slightly different texture (a bit finer grained) than store bought, and tasted fresher. I don't know what kind of stabilizers or preservatives are in store bought CC, but I suspect they contribute to the flavor and this homemade stuff didn't have any of that. there is no way you could tell it was made with powdered milk. that weird powdered milk flavor was not present at all. i would say i ended up with about a generous quart or quart plus a cup or so of finished curd from the gallon of milk i started with. i have a couple other recipes for this but they are more complex--involve rinsing the curd and stuff. this simpler way worked fine--it used a fair amount of rennet compared to the other recipes--i may try using less to see what happens with another batch.
the nice thing is--you can make this yourself and totally control what is in your product both in terms of preservatives and non organic compounds, as well as calories. i belong to a food coop and i think they carry organic powdered milk. powdered milk is fat free, so the only fat came from the heavy cream i added at the end--and you certainly wouldn't have to add that. i used buttermilk for my inoculant, but you could easily use fat free plain yogurt instead. making your own yogurt isn't that hard either. you DO need to moisten the curd again--i suppose you could put some of the whey back in--commercial cottage cheeses have some whey in them. i suspect there are other things you could do with the whey as well. i mentioned feeding it to chickens--pigs would eat it too--but i am betting you could add whey to bread recipes as part of the liquid or find some other way to reclaim it. it just looks like a sort of thick, milky water.
this is really a pretty simple process--and while it takes some time to complete the process, the real time consuming steps happen without needing you to be there (letting it stand overnight and letting it drain for several hours). the heating and mixing is very straightforward and simple. you do need to have a good stainless steel pan for the cheese and a larger heatproof pan for the waterbath. i also put a little cooling rack in the bottom of my water bath to hold the pan of cheese up off the bottom a little way so it would heat uniformly surrounded by the water. you need a fairly long knife that is stainless or hard silver (they make a curd cutting knife you can get too) some clean cheesecloth (you can run it through the washer on hot or soak it in boiling water) and a good sized colander. and a place to hang the cloth bag while its draining. you also need a thermometer--but a candy thermometer won't work--you have to have one that goes as low as 90 deg. f. a clip on one is nice, but I have rigged a non clip one before by suspending it in the liquid from above (you have to be kind of a kitchen MacGyver to make it work--but it's possible).
i will take Karen's suggestion and do a photo thingy about this next time i make it so you can see what i did. i am sure you could halve the recipe if you aren't sure you can eat this amount of product in time. the next thing for me is to watch and see how long it stays edible for.
have a great weekend!