If you have cultured buttermilk, then you are on your way to making cottage cheese!
There are tons of recipes for cottage cheese that simply have you clabber your cheese with vinegar or citric acid. However, it’s bacterial culture that clabbers cottage cheese (just check the ingredients on a store bought tub). If you use vinegar or lemon juice, then you are actually making paneer and/or ricotta. This means that they are not fermented… it also means that they are rather flavorless (which is why they are usually accompanied by more flavourful sauces).
- A gallon (4 liters) non-fat (skim) milk (using a higher fat milk is a waste, as the fat will just be drained off with the whey)
- ½ cup cultured buttermilk
- Pour milk into a large pot with the buttermilk.
- Leave on counter for 12 to 14 hour, until clabbered (curdled into a big mass).
- Cut into curds by slicing on the diagonal in the pot (2 cm cubes).
- Heat 8 cups of water to 100 F, then add to curds.
- Keep at 100F by putting it on the stove in a basin of water. Gently stir every 5 minutes.
- You're finished when the curds have separated from the whey (curds will be firm and sink to the bottom of the pot, which takes about 30 min to 1 hour).
- Pour into a strainer lined with cheese cloth. Rinse with cold water and allow to drain until most of the whey is gone, but not until the cheese is dry.
Options for Finishing:
1) Use it as a dry curd cottage cheese for cooking.
2) Turn it into snack-style cottage cheese by adding heavy cream and non-iodized salt (to taste).
3) Add non-iodized salt (1-2 tsp) and continue to press moisture out of the cheese until it is a firm slicing cheese.
What does one do with a liter of cottage cheese? Well, it melted nicely on our pizza, made a lovely lasagna, and a tasty lunchtime snack; but in the end I used most of it up making a traditional Eastern European comfort food… vareniki (pierogies) -coming next week!