I guess it was inevitable. First I figured out that it was ridiculously easy to make your own homemade ricotta cheese that tasted a million times better than the store version. Then I figured out that it was ridiculously easy to make your own butter that tasted a million times better than the store version. So it was only a matter of time before I worked my way to cottage cheese…and guess what? Yup.
Here is all you need: skim milk (yes, skim milk. I haven’t tried it with any other kind, but I hear skim milk is the only variety that works. I am sure for reasons that I would understand if I had been paying better attention in sophomore chemistry, but I wasn’t). White vinegar. Salt. And a little heavy cream and half and half.
Okay, so here we go. Pour your skim milk into a big pot (I used my trusty Dutch oven) and heat it to 120 degrees (I used my trusty candy thermometer). When it reaches 120, take it off the heat and pour in the vinegar. This is going to make the curds (the solid part) separate from the whey (the liquid part). Cover it and leave it alone for about 30 minutes.
When you come back, you are going to have a stringy, goopy pot of stuff that looks nothing like cottage cheese, but hang in there. Scoop out the goop and put it in a clean lightweight dishtowel. Let it drain for a few minutes, and then gather the sides of the dishtowel together so the cheese is closed inside and run cold water over it for about 3 minutes, kneading and squeezing it the whole time it is being rinsed.
When you are done, open up the dishtowel. You will have a pile of dry pieces of something that looks nothing like cottage cheese, but hang in there, because here’s where the magic happens. Transfer those dried looking curds to a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup half and half, along with a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir it all around and voila! It looks EXACTLY like the best bowl of cottage cheese you’ve ever seen! Taste it and add more salt and more cream until it is the flavor and consistency you like.
Now, this cottage cheese is not going to be like that mass-produced stuff from the supermarket. It’s like a mixture of mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese, and it’s best eaten the very day you make it. (Which was not a problem for me!) If you do keep it overnight in the fridge, it will firm up a little and you may need to add a little more regular milk or cream to get it back to a consistency you like.
So if we can make butter and ricotta cheese, we can make cottage cheese too! I wonder what’s next….? I’m taking suggestions!
- 1 gallon skim milk
- ¾ cup white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup half and half
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Pour milk into a large heavy pot and heat to 120 degrees. Remove from heat, pour in vinegar and stir. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Remove solids from pot and place in a clean, lightweight dishtowel. Put the dishtowel in a colander and let drain for 5 minutes.
- Gather the ends of the dishtowel together until the cheese is fully covered and run cold water over the dishtowel for three minutes, kneading and squeezing the cheese curds the whole time.
- Transfer the curds to a bowl and add ¼ cup each of half and half and cream, along with ½ teaspoon salt. Stir. Taste and add additional salt and cream until the cheese is a taste and consistency you like.
- This cheese is best enjoyed the same day you make it!
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s version