We try to keep the food in our household “processed-free” as best we can. It doesn’t always happen, but whenever I can make something and realize that it (a) requires very few ingredients, (b) doesn’t take too long to make, and (c) tastes significantly better than the processed version, I feel like a rock-star.
While we were traveling, we got into the habit of reading ingredient labels more diligently than we do at home in Canada (due to some of the rather dubious products in the US), especially on our dairy products, as we wanted to purchase rBST-free dairy. We eat a lot of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese and found it disconcerting the length of unpronounceable ingredients in many brands. Shouldn’t yogurt and cheese just contain milk, bacterial cultures and perhaps a bit of salt? Many brands had a list that seemed to take up the entire length of the container! And the amount of salt? Whoa! Too much for us.
When we got back to Vancouver, we thought we were in better hands. We were wrong; do you know how difficult it is to buy cottage cheese that does not have a whack-load of salt and a whack-load of ingredients? Very difficult. We were surprised and, quite frankly, very disappointed.
So, this week, I hoisted myself onto my rock-star pedestal and made my own cottage cheese. It required two ingredients: milk and lemon juice. And it tasted fantastic!!
The process is really simple. Gently heat 1L of milk in a sauce pan over medium heat (make sure it doesn’t boil; if you have a candy thermometer, aim for 125°F), stirring every so often.
Once hot, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly, 5 minutes.
Stir in 2 tbsp of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or vinegar.
Curds will start to form, keep stirring slowly for a few minutes.
Cover the pan and leave to sit for about 30 minutes, to allow the curds to fully separate from the whey.
Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl (or use cheese cloth, or even a tea-towel) and pour the curds and whey through the sieve.
Rinse the curds with cold water then gently press out as much of the liquid (whey plus water) as you can. The back of a wooden spoon works well. And that’s it! You have cottage cheese!
So the only thing that knocked me off of my rock-star pedestal? The amount of cottage cheese 1L of milk produced was TINY! Like, perhaps 1/4 cup of cheese (I might be being generous here), and I was expecting much more.
So, we enjoyed our tiny amount of homemade cottage cheese sprinkled on top of local strawberries. The taste is very good – really smooth and clean tasting – nothing like the standard store-bought variety. If only we had more! I used 1% milk and I’m not sure if using milk with a higher fat-content would help, or using more lemon juice/vinegar? I will experiment. Oh, and apparently the resulting whey (liquid) can be used in any recipe that calls for buttermilk. Looks like we’ve got some baking to do this weekend!
- 1 L milk, any fat-content
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
- Gently heat 1 L of milk over medium heat until it is very warm. Do not let the milk boil. Stir every so often as the milk heats. Remove from the burner and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice or vinegar and continue to stir the milk gently for a few minutes. You should see curds forming. Cover the sauce pan and leave to sit for 30 minutes, to allow the curds to fully separate from the whey.
- If you would like to use the whey liquid for baking, place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, to catch the liquid. Strain the curds from the whey. Run some cool water through the sieve to fully remove any liquid, then press the curds against the sieve with the back of a wooden spoon until they are dry.
- Eat as is, or mix a bit of cream / half-and-half and sea salt back into the curds, if you prefer a richer texture.