We make/use/eat a lot of cottage cheese. In order to make butter, we separate the skim milk from the cream. Here’s a pic of our cream separator. It’s from the 1950’s, and we bought it off ebay several years ago. You can see, we pour whole milk in the stainless steel bowl and then the cream comes out of one spicket & the skim comes out the other one.
**IMPORTANT NOTE** We DO NOT advocate drinking skim milk. Here’s a link to a past post containing Weston A. Price Foundation links explaining the reason we drink whole, raw milk. That being said, since skim is a byproduct of the butter-making process, if there are foods we can make from skim to keep our tummies full, we are all for it. Other uses for our skim milk are as fertilizer for our pastures, ricotta cheese, and for growing more kefir grains.
We fill our 5 gallon bucket up w/ about 3.5 gallons of skim, seal the lid on it, and let it sit for several days in our cool basement. This is to allow it to “sour” and form a solid curd. This can be anywhere from 2-6 days…depending on the temperature/humidity of the weather.
Once the milk has set, we pour it into several stock pots. (I usually do this outside, because the clumpy consistency makes a lot of messy splashes.)
Then we heat the milk slowly to about 120°, stirring every-so-often.
You will see as it’s heating, the whey begins to distinctly separate from the curds.
Next we strain the curds through a muslin-lined metal strainer over a large bowl to catch the whey.
**UPDATED THIS POST 8-5-12** I no longer use the cheesecloth – found that it’s MUCH quicker to just take my hand-held strainer, dip it in the pot, scoop out the clumps of curds, and dump it in another colander with a bowl under it. SAVES A TON OF TIME! 🙂
Here’s a pic of it:
That’s it! What you have left is cottage cheese. 🙂
This recipe yielded 5 pounds 10.5 ounces of “dry” cottage cheese curds. If I’m freezing the cottage cheese, I leave it “dry”, and add the cream/milk after thawing it. We do add cream and/or whole milk in with the curds because we like more of a moist cottage cheese when we eat it fresh, but that is purely optional. For our family, we like to add the same weight in cream to the curds & mix it up.
We prefer to use 1/2 cottage cheese & 1/2 ricotta cheese when we make stuffed shells. 🙂
We usually store our cottage cheese plain, because half of us like to eat it w/ homemade jam mixed in, and the other half prefer to eat it with freshly ground sea salt and pepper.