Friday, September 23, 2005

Homemade cottage cheese...

After all my incessant chattering about how I was going to start making cottage cheese from scratch, several of you asked for pictures and details.

The ingredients before: buttermilk (Laban), cream (creme), salt (sel), dry milk (lait ecreme en poudre), and rennet. Oh, and the cheesecloth.

The votes are in and the cheese making was a success. Not a smashing success, mind you, but definitely worth repeating and perfecting. This first attempt came out with a very soft texture, much like chevre (goat cheese)which we also like. Next time I'll let the curd ripen a bit longer and see if that helps.

As this is a work in progress, check for updates before you make this at home. :)

1/4 rennet tablet (an enzyme sold as Junket in grocery stores)
1/2 c cold water
1 gallon skim milk
1/4 c buttermilk (let sit at room temp at least 4 hours before using)
1 t salt
1/3 c cream

Step 1: Milk, buttermilk, and rennet

Crush the rennet and dissolve in water. In a large saucepan heat the skim milk to 70 degrees. Add the buttermilk and rennet solution. Stir well, then stir a little more. Cover with a towel and let it sit 18-24 hours until a firm curd forms, called ripening. To test the curd's readiness, cut a small piece from the edge. If the edges are defined and the curd holds its shape, it's ready.

Step 2: Curds separating from the whey

Cut the curd horizontally, vertically, and diagonally (both ways) at one inch intervals. Heat the curds slowly, one degree per minute, to 120 degrees. Hold temperature for 20-30 minutes, stirring gently every five minutes.

Step 3: Cutting the curds

Pour off the whey then drain the curds in a colander lined with cheesecloth. After 2-3 minutes, lift the curds using the four corners of the cloth and dunk them in cold water 1-2 minutes. Stir the curds well. Repeat this process in ice water.

Step 4: Pouring the curds and whey into strainer

Step 5: Draining the whey

Step 6: More draining

Drain the curds until free from whey and place in a large bowl. Add cream and salt to taste. Chill overnight.

The resulting product

Homemade cottage cheese on salad - yum!

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