The Cottage Cheese Controversy

…or which handcrafted cottage cheese is best?

The rennet, slow, cooked type or the super-fast, vinegar-activated type?

The fast, vinegar type, outlined here: has a very rich taste, but the curds lack definition, creating a more ricotta-like texture. Ultimately, I spoon-blended this finished product and added garlic powder and minced chives. It is what I, now, refer to as Lazy Farmer’s Cheese.

It is, however fast, and easy and really delicious, and, probably, had I added more milk to the curd, it might have retained its shape better and been fine cottage cheese.

The rennet-type of cottage cheese is a lot more work, takes a hundred times longer and it looks pretty much the same.  I find that it tastes more “vinegary” than the type made with vinegar. Weird. I have detailed the making of it, here in pictures and the recipe for it is included in the junket rennet package insert or online.

It all started with 2 quarts of milk (the recipe called for one gallon, but I didn’t have a whole gallon for my experiment. I left all other ingredient amounts the same as the recipe called for). This recipe calls for buttermilk as the innoculant.

The night before making the cheese, the milk is brought to 70 degrees, and removed from heat. 1/4 of a dissolved rennet tablet in 1/2 a cup of water and 1/4 of a cup of buttermilk are added to the warmed milk, covered and set aside for the night, at room temperature.

The next morning, it looked like this:

the curd was not as firm as it needed to be, and I waited an additional 4 hours past 12 hours (for a total of 16 hours, for the math-impaired, such as myself), until the “break” looked like this:

Then the whole pot was returned to the stove, in a double boiler (type situation) and brought up to 110 degrees. I was to keep the temperature at 110 degrees for 20-30 minutes, although, in truth, mine did get a bit hotter. Maintaining an exact temperature in a double boiler is obviously not my strong area. But I persisted.

As my temp was too high for a while I removed the inner pan from the water bath and set it aside. I stirred the mixture gently every 5 minutes as called for in the directions.

 it looked like this while cooking, and the curd formation was more evident.

Once it had been cooked for the 20 minutes, I drained it into a cheesecloth-lined strainer: 

I allowed it to drain for a few minutes, to allow the whey to come away from the curd.

Then, I gathered up the cheesecloth, again, as per instructions, and immersed it in a bowl of cold water. Then, I allowed it to drain a few minutes, and immersed it into ice water, for the final cooling step 

a lot of the milky whey and many little curdy bits came away into the water.

Then, I allowed it to drain in the strainer for about 30 minutes 

afterward, I put the remaining curd into a bowl, added milk and salt, and voila, I had cottage cheese. 

Truth be told, the super fast, also super-small curd vinegar version came out better than the long, slow, labor-intensive rennet and buttermilk version.

So, as far as I am concerned, the vinegar type was the smarter choice, and I will be using it again. I will not be making the rennet type again.

Now, please keep in mind, I am very much an amateur cheese-maker and photographer, so I do apologize for my lack of skills in both areas. But as for my experience, this controversy is laid to rest.

Happy Cheesemaking, my little Blueberries!


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