Monday, August 17, 2009

Homemade cottage cheese

I've been experimenting with homemade cottage cheese for a while. I think we've finally got it right. Yippee! Not that I have done anything as far as pioneering any methods here. Just know that it took me a little while to feel like I had the hang of it and cut yourself some slack if your first batch doesn't turn out perfect. Mine didn't. Now, if your first batch does turn out perfect, feel free to make sure you know how amazing you are! I'd hug you if I could. This recipe does in fact come from the makers of Junket Rennet tablets. If you don't know what that is, don't feel badly. I had to learn about it too. Rennet tablets contain the natural enzyme rennin. Rennet changes milk into a smooth custard, and eventually cheese curd. I was surprised to find it at my local Wal-Mart by the ice cream toppings. It is in fact what a lot of folks use to make homemade custards and ice cream. So...look for the box. If you don't have it, it can be ordered. I keep it on hand. Cost, $1.50 a box, 8 tablets to a box. 1/4 tablet makes about a pound of cottage cheese. So, it's well worth the price. May I add here that I love these people who make Junket! You all rock! My cottage cheese recipe comes from the Junket folks. Everyone should check them out, buy their stuff and keep them in business. I don't work for I'm saying it from the heart. Really. Plus their packaging looks like 1950. I feel so retro when I use it.
1/4 Junket Rennet Tablet
1/2 cup water
1 gallon skim milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cream
1. Dissolve Rennet Tablet in water by crushing. Set aside. In a large saucepan, heat skim milk to 70º F. (Use a thermometer folks!) Stir in buttermilk and Rennet Tablet solution, mixing well. Cover with towel and let stand at room temperature 12 to 18 hours until firm curd forms. To test for firm curd, remove a milk sample at a point near the edge of the pan or bowl with a spoon. The curd is ready when the coagulated milk sample holds its shape and the edges are sharply defined.

2. Cut curd into 1/2-inch long pieces using a long knife. Heat curd slowly over hot water until temperature reaches 110ºF. May I interject here and say that my first batch I did over a double boiler, I heated it a little too much and my curds ended up really hard. More like cheese than cottage creamy cheese. So, just heat the water then turn off the heat. That worked perfectly the second batch. Hey look, this picture could have been taken in 1950. It's like "I Love Lucy" but I'm not wearing fake eyelashes. Oh yes, I am wearing that frilly apron though.
Mmmm. Curd.
Hold curd at that temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring at 5-minute intervals to heat curd uniformly. Again, 110 degrees is not super hot. Use a thermometer to help you gauge it. You'll be glad you did.
Pour mixture onto the fine cheesecloth in a colander and drain off whey.

Also, have a bowl of cool water nearby.

Now it gets really non-technical.
I bunched it with a clippy thing. Then when the whey had drained for 2 -3 minutes I said, " Dude...NO Whey." Sometimes I turn into surfer chick.

3. After whey has drained 2 to 3 minutes, lift curd in cheesecloth and immerse in pan of cold water 1 to 2 minutes, stirring and pressing with a spoon. Then immerse in ice water 1 to 2 minutes.

Drain the curd until it is free from whey and place in a large bowl. Add salt and cream and mix thoroughly. Chill.
Yes, this is really my own homemade stuff. I feel so proud.

There you go. Have fun and let me know when you have said " whey".
You know I love you.


Goob said...

and remember to use your whey in something yummy like a quick bread or muffin!

Yeah, this was so not the same method I used. I had used the powdered milk method found on a famous blog which teaches how to use your food storage. The cheese pretty much sucked, though nobody noticed it sucked when I added it to a salad.

So your method would work with powdered milk though, reconstituted, right?

Chef Tess said...

Absolutely works with dry milk reconstituted! I use the dry milk almost exclusively for cottage cheese and it tastes awesome!

Unknown said...

i am on vacation in san diego (i threw that in to make you jealous!)
as soon as we get home on the weekend we are getting the ingredients to do this!
WE ( my daughter and i) she is so excited to do this! also.

Chef Tess said...

Gramee...Oh San Diego is the bomb. Love Crystal Pierre! My FIL served in the Navy over there. I hope you and your daughter do make the cottage cheese! I love to hear it.

Angela said...

I remember when I learned about the Junket/Rennet tablets and I went and bought a bunch for fear that someone else would find out how useful they are and go buy them out before I could get more. Silly, I know, but way useful and CHEAP and they don't take up a ton of space in your food room. I'll have to try this.

Chef Tess said...

Angela, you are one of my favorite! Thank you and yes...I have to truly confess that I did the same thing when I found out about Junket. I bought 6 boxes and then 3 the next day. You know...since suddenly everyone else will want them magically. Even now, I buy them a few boxes at a time. The same thing with vital wheat gluten for making meatless meat. Gosh it's amazing how some things are just so perfect and so few people know about them.

Goob said...

Junket reminds me of my grandma, I'm not sure I can recall her ever using it, but she had a little Junket recipe book that I had, and sadly got rid of...I'm sure it was from no later than the 60's. UGH, I got rid of some treasures. I thought I was doing myself a favor, and I suppose that since we're still not "permanent" anywhere, I did, but I miss those little retro-cookbooks.

Angela said...

Ha! I buy the gluten flour by the 50 lb bag! You know someone eventually is going to catch on to the little gem products like these and then I'll be glad I already have mine :)

Chef Tess said...

Angela. Sweeet respect right now. Yes, we are kindred spirits. I suspected it, but now I'm certain.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie, Thanks so much for contacting us, we are always excited to hear from fans of our Junket products. Please feel free to include our productsor recipes on your blog anytime.Please let us know if there is any additional information you need for a product review or recipe.

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emmers said...

You posted this tutorial in 2009 and I am admittedly a little behind the times! My first attempt is sitting on the counter for its 12-18 hour rest before moving on. Fingers and toes crossed that everything works! I was nervous to leave it on the counter at room temperature though...are we sure that the milk won't go bad?!

Chef Tess said...

Yup. I'm

Chef Tess said...

Sure it will not go bad.