Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy, Cheesy Accident

A quick reminder: Today’s the last day to enter my contest – see the details above. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.

As for the happy accident – well, I think it will be good thing. Time will tell.

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A couple days ago I decided to make cottage cheese. It started by mixing a packet of direct-set mesophilic culture into a gallon of whole milk heated to 72 degrees. That sat on the counter, wrapped in towels, for 24 hours while I did things like write, organize the basement, wrap presents and sleep.

Yesterday I cut the coagulated mass into curds and heated them very gradually to 112 degrees. After half an hour at that temperature I should have been able to strain out the cottage cheese, give it a quick rinse, mix in a little cream, and sample the goodness.

But the curds were too custardy inside. I cooked them and cooked them, added a bit of rennet to encourage the process, and then even a few drops of apple cider vinegar. Finally, I gave up, strained the dang curds and put them in a cloth-lined cheese mold hoping to salvage a hard or semi-hard cheese.

I rigged up a press by perching a cast iron Dutch oven filled with bricks on top of the mold. More bricks increased the weight to about 30 pounds (50 would have been better) pressure. Again, it sat on the counter overnight.

This morning I unwrapped the tidy round above. The plan is to let it dry at room temperature for a few days, turning often until it forms a rind. Since it’s more or less farmers cheese, it should be ready to eat in a month or less.

Wonder how it will taste …


  1. I am impressed that you would try making your own cottage cheese. I love cottage cheese, but I don't like the amount of sodium in the ones you get at the store and so far the low sodium ones just don't taste right. I'd love to know how this tastes when it's ready for eating.

    Beverly aka Bookwoman

  2. oh my gosh Cricket! When I read your blog I'm constantly amazed at your talent. And I feel like a total slacker. :) I am just in awe of you.

  3. Well, it looks wonderful. I bet it will be very tasty. I don't eat cottage cheese very often because I prefer the small, drier curds that I remember from the days my grandmother and mother made their own. I've never tried to make it myself.