is a versatile food and relatively inexpensive for the nutrition it packs into every bite. It is considered a fresh cheese therefore it’s more perishable than aged cheeses. Because of its high water content it’s easy to mix it with many other foods and in many recipes. It is in abundant supply commercially, but it's almost as easy to make at home. All it takes is milk and an acid to curdle it. The curd is strained and usually washed and are not pressed. Its fat content depends on the type of milk used, whether whole, low fat or skim. If fat is not an issue, some of the best home made cottage cheese recipes add half and half or heavy cream to the curd. Personally I always use and recommend the regular fat cottage cheese; it's tastier and I like its creamier texture and more robust flavor. Low fat cheeses usually have sugar added to improve their bland taste.
What’s in a name? Believed to date back to 1831 when it was made in cottages from the milk that was left over after making butter. When the curds are pressed only the name of the cheese changes, but the nutritional value remains almost the same but the name changes. Some of the names given to pressed curd cheese or cottage cheese are queso blanco, farmer, hoop or pot cheese
How do you eat cottage cheese? By itself, with seasonings such as salt and pepper, with fruits or vegetables, on toast, crackers or chips, mixed in meat salads or as a substitute for its costlier counterpart Riccota. I use it as a topping for a baked potato sprinkled with pepper and Parmesan cheese for a quick lunch. However, one of the most popular ways is in fruit plates. Another way became very popular years ago when carbohydrate free diets were recommended for weight loss and cottage cheese was substituted for potatoes.
Why would you eat cottage cheese? The nutrient value of cottage cheese and versatility has made it very popular. A ½ cup serving of cottage cheese made with regular milk provides 120 calories, 5 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrate, 14 grams protein, 70 grams calcium and 500 mg sodium. Because of its high protein content it is a favorite of some athletes, particularly bodybuilders, runners and weight lifters. Low fat and low sodium varieties are also available.
How do you make it yourself? This is a relatively simple cottage cheese recipe published by Alton Brown in 2007.
1 gallon pasteurized skim milk
3/4 cup white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Heat milk and salt over medium heat until it reaches 120°F. Turn off heat and add vinegar and stir for about 2 minutes until curd separates. Cover and hold at room temperature for about half an hour until the curdling process is completed. Pour the drained curd and whey mixture into a colander lined with a tea towel or cheesecloth and allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse under cold water for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd is completely cooled, squeezing and moving the mixture the whole time. Once cooled, squeeze as dry as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine, breaking up the curd into bite-size pieces as you go. If ready to serve immediately, stir in the half-and-half or heavy cream. If not, transfer to a sealable container and place in the refrigerator. Add the half and half or heavy cream just prior to serving.
Suggestions for using cottage cheese
There are six delicious, nutritious, flavorful fortified recipes using cottage cheese as an ingredient in Flavorful Fortified Food - Recipes to Enrich Life. Try them next time want more than just plain cottage cheese.