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homemade cottage cheese

I’ll admit until I went on my low-carb diet a few months back, I couldn’t stand cottage cheese. It was something they served in hospitals for sick people and I was not sick. Even the name sucks: Cottage cheese. Whenever I think of cottages I can’t help but think of those shitty paintings by Thomas Kinkaid. “Painter of light” my ass. You paint ugly pictures of imaginary places for old women.

But then I went on my low-carb diet and found that there isn’t a damn thing to snack on! So I settled on cottage cheese a couple of times and found that the stuff is pretty tasty.

I thought I’d take a shot at making it myself and I must say there is nothing as luxurious as homemade cottage cheese. It’s got a super fresh taste that can’t be matched by anything at the supermarket.

*A side note: While it tastes amazing, making cottage cheese at home is a lot of work. It take a long time and it’s more expensive than buying it from the store. So if you’re cheap, lazy and generally busy, you should buy your cottage cheese.

Homemade Cottage Cheese

1/4 Tablet Junket Rennet
1/2 Cup Water
1 Gallon Skim Milk
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1. Crush Your Junk(et) – Rennet is a enzyme found in the stomach of calves that enables them to break down the milk from their mother. We’re gonna use it to do the same thing here. Adding this to our milk is going to separate the curds from the whey.

Take one tablet out of the package and cut it in half. And cut it in half again. With your 1/4 of a tablet, take the back of a spoon and crush it in a small bowl. Then add the 1/2 Cup of water to dissolve the rennet. Set aside.

2. Pump and Dump – In a stainless steel stockpot big enough to hold a gallon of milk, add your gallon of skim milk. Turn your stovetop onto medium heat and stir the milk. We need to get the milk to 70° and we need to know when it gets there so using a thermometer is crucial. I use a probe thermometer with a pot clip to ensure the temperature is just right. Stirring will prevent scorching on the bottom.

Once you’ve hit 70°, stir in the 1/4 of Buttermilk and your Rennet mix from earlier. The live cultures in the buttermilk will help to flavor the cheese, but it and the rennet need some time to work. Take your pot off of the stove, cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature for 12 – 24 hours.

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3. Little Miss Muffet was a Trollip – With any luck you should now be left with something that look like a big jello blob in clear liquid. That my friends is curds and whey. You can ensure you’re reached proper curds by using a knife to make a slice in it, if the line you make stays visible, you’re good to go.

We want to have multiple curds and not just one big one, so we’re going to have to do some slicing. Get out your longest, thinnest knife for this task, it will make things a lot easier. Starting on one side, slowly slide your long knife in to the soft warm curd until you hit the bottom. Then, keeping your knife on the bottom, run your knife all the way across the pot. Take out your knife and do this same motion every half inch until you get to the other side of the pot.

Once you finish one direction, turn the pot 90 degrees and do the same thing this direction. You should have a cross-hatch pattern on top of the curd, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect, your cottage cheese will turn out just fine.

4. Catcher – We’re soon going to be separating the curds from the whey, so get a strainer with some cheesecloth in it setup over the top of a bowl. Leave this for a minute while we heat the curds.


5. It’s Gettin Hot in Here – Turn on your stove to medium and put your curds back on the burner. You’ll need a thermometer again here as we need to get the mixture to a temperature of 110° and keep it there for 20 – 30 minutes.

Prior to heating, if you pick up one of the curds it will practically disappear in your hand and it’s easily crushed into oblivion. That’s because the curd has not yet set. The process of heating for 20-30 minutes at 110° will set, or cook, the curds, firming them up so our cottage cheese has the delicious texture we know and love.

Heat the mixture to 110° and stir gently to distribute the heat evenly. Be very gentle though or you will demolish all your curds.

After 20 minutes you’ll see that when you stir your curds have real body now. This is what we’re looking for. If your curds haven’t firmed up, keep the heat on for a few more minutes and things will come together.

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6. Splashdown – Pour your curds and whey into the cheesecloth lined colander, lifting the colander once you’ve poured it all in. Save the whey if you’d like, but otherwise pour it off and fill the bowl with ice cold water. Put ice in, if you have it.


7. Teabagging – I don’t know why, but this picture always reminds me of this. This should take all of your fraternity guys right back to college.

Grab all four sides of the cheesecloth and pull them together at the top. Now take your curd sack and dunk it repeatedly in the ice cold water. The goal here is to cool the curds down to 40° or so. If you’ve got to stick your hand in there to stir them up a bit, that’s fine, just make sure all of the curds are cool before moving on to the next step.


8. Creamin – You can keep your cottage cheese as it stands now, but you’re probably used to a much creamier version. That’s because commercial cottage cheese has cream or half and half added. I like using cream, because seriously, if you took two days to make cottage cheese that shit better be the most luxurious damn cottage cheese ever made.

Add your salt and cream to the cottage cheese curds, stirring to combine.

That’s it, you did it. You made homemade cottage cheese from scratch. That’s quite the accomplishment. Now mind you, none of your friends or family will give a shit when you tell them, but you’ll know how awesome you are. And that’s what really matters.

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