History of Dairy Products: Cottage Cheese

About the dairy product cottage cheese, history and information about its production and nutrition, recipe to make your own cottage cheese.


Fermented milk foods were the standard fare of the early Egyptians and Greeks, and cottage cheese, long a popular food in Central Europe, used to be made at home in the cottages of colonial America. Currently, consumption of cottage cheese in the U.S. has reached almost one billion lbs. annually. Uncreamed cottage cheese provides about 38 gm. of complete protein per cup, as well as calcium and some vitamins. The commercial product may, however, contain such unwanted additions as diacetyl, an artificial butter flavor, artificial dyes, as well as stabilizers and mold inhibitors.

Delicious and nutritious cottage cheese can quickly be made at home. Heat one quart of milk in a heavy utensil. Use skim milk for fewer calories. When the milk is warm (about 110deg) add one tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir, keeping the heat low, until the milk curdles. Pour curdled milk into a muslin or cheesecloth bag and strain. Add salt to taste and any other flavoring you like, such as chives, parsley, or fresh basil. Seeds such as caraway or dill can be used as well, and a half cup of yogurt or sour cream can be mixed in, if you like a creamy texture. Be sure to save the whey, which contains minerals and is good for the digestive system. This whey can be drunk as is or used in bread-making, etc. If for any reason you do not want to use this whey, make your cottage cheese with rennet. In souring the milk, the lactic acid causes the calcium to be dissolved in the whey and rennet helps to prevent this loss. The procedure with rennet is pretty much the same. Add it either in liquid or tablet form to the warmed milk, and let it stand until it sets. When firm, place it over a very low heat, or even a pan of very hot water, stirring frequently until it separates into curds.

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