I am so chuffed with how my cottage cheese turned out. I have been taking it to work this week for afternoon tea with whatever fruit is on hand. It goes particularly well with honeydew melon or on crackers just like the photo above.
This is the equipment required to make the cheese. You need a pot that will fit inside another large pot. The recipe from Green Living Australia is for eight litres of milk but I adjusted mine to half of that quantity. I had a stockpot so I went and bought a smaller one which holds seven litres from Big W for $9. The important thing is that your utensils are stainless steel so they remain clean and sterile. Wood or plastic can hold bacteria which can spoil your cheese. The only item I forgot to photograph was a long bladed knife to cut the curd, and my steel measuring cups.
Stainless Steel Colander
Spoon measures and cup measures
Loose weave cheesecloth
Long bladed stainless steel knife
Ensure all items have been cleaned and rinsed in hot water.
These are the ingredients. Besides the milk, all the other ingredients came with my Cheese Making Kit but you can order them separately online from Green Living Australia. There are cottage cheeses you can make that don't use the cultures and rennet, they use lemon juice or vinegar instead and are alot quicker to make. However, I like the idea of doing it this way as I will need to learn for my other hard cheeses...and the whey from this process can be used to make Ricotta cheese which you can't with an acidic whey.
Four litres of milk (I just used the full cream from Aldi)
1/8 teaspoon of calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup of un-chlorinated or demineralised water
1 dose of Mesophilic Culture - it tells you on the packet how many litres/doses it will make. I only required enough to fit on the tip of a knife so I have heaps of culture for further cheeses.
1/8 tablet of rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup of demineralised water
3/4 teaspoon cheese salt
Add enough water to the large pot to fill it to one third. Place the smaller pot into the larger pot and add your milk. Add the calcium chloride (this is only required with store bought milk and helps with clotting. If you use farm fresh milk it is not required) and mix well.
Using indirect heat, slowly heat your milk to 30 degrees C. The instructions did not mention this but I should have taken the milk off the heat before it got to 30 degrees as I ended up reaching 36 degrees once I turned it off. It will be trial and error depending on your stove and pots as to how long it will take. I waited for it to lower to 30 degrees which took about 40 mins. Add your MO 030 starter culture and stir gently with the slotted spoon to mix in well.
Allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes, maintaining the temperature at 30 degrees C. I had no idea how to do this - heat on or off? So I just covered it with the lid and kept checking the temperature which did not budge below 30 degrees. Phew, that part I got right!
Add the rennet solution and stir in well, using a gentle up and down motion for one minute. Cover and let undisturbed for about 30 to 45 minutes at 30 degrees celcius. To maintain the heat I placed it back on the heat for about five minutes to heat the water in the outside pot. This seemed to work well.
Check for a 'clean break'. This is when you cut the curd and it should split along a clean line and not be too soft or milky. The above photo shows my first attempt at a clean break.
Second time around, about ten minutes later, I had my clean break.
Cut the curd as in the above photo, into 1.5cm cubes. Let it rest for five minutes. The clear whey will show between the pieces of curd.
Stir the curds gently for 30 seconds to prevent them from clumping together.
Gently increase the temperature of the curds and whey to 46 degrees C. This was the hardest step - to try and stop it from going up too quickly. The instructions suggest this step should take about an hour and I think I reached the temperature after about forty minutes. I only had the heat on low and took the pan off after the temperature started going up. You need to stir the curds every five minutes to prevent them clumping together. You can see in the above photo that the curds are sinking below the weigh which is exactly what they should do :)
When 46 degrees is reached, remove the pot from the heat and allow to rest for five minutes. Then pour off the whey into a separate bowl as per the above photo. It is impossible not to get a little cheese in it which I drained off before bottling.
Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the curds into the colander lined with your cheese cloth. Rest and drain for five minutes.
I sat the colander on top of a lipped bowl to catch the excess whey...
Then used a strainer to get the last little bits.
This is the cheese resting in the cheesecloth. Gently break up the curds with your fingers into smaller pieces. Sprinkle the salt on top and continue breaking up to mix it through. The cheese appears yellow here due to the shadow but it is actually very white in colour.
Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. It can be eaten straight away and will keep in the fridge for at least a week. You can also freeze it for later use as it is not runny and will thaw okay. It needs to be frozen in an airtight container and will keep for 3-6 months. It will not lose any of its nutritional value but may lose a little flavour. This recipe made 700g of cottage cheese...
And three litres of whey, which is fascinating stuff full of protein and probiotics. I used it to make ricotta cheese which I will post about next. I ended up with about 300g of Ricotta.
So I created approximately one kilo of soft cheese, and I still ended up with two and a half litres of whey after making the ricotta. Not bad for $4 worth of milk and maybe $1 in gas, culture, rennet, sodium chloride and cheese salt. What a bargain, and a hell of alot of fun! It may seem like a long process for this result (which it is), but I did make some cherry tomato relish and cleaned my kitchen and lounge while I was waiting and checking.
An internet search will reveal recipes for the acid (lemon or vinegar) method of creating cottage cheese if you want to try something a little more simple. I find it really interesting to discover how something I have always eaten is actually made.
Do you think you may want to try this yourself? If you have made cheese before, how did you go?