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Let your imagination soar, and picture a small house in a rural setting with a white picket fence and a pretty red barn in the background. In the pastures of rolling green hills are a herd of Holstein cows grazing peacefully and chewing their cuds. A farmer and his wife are working in the garden and fields of corn tall and graceful waving to the blue sky above.

Our ansestors were people who were independent in the strictest sense of the word. Providing most of their food, and depending very little on “store bought” food. They could last the winter on what they grew and stored.

Cottage cheese was named so because it was made in the cottages of those independent and frugal farmers in our past and was not a commercial product. It was made back then, from raw milk, which is not pasteurized. We pasteurize our milk now with heat to kill bacteria, and then it was used in the same raw state as it came from the cow.

The first product from the raw milk was butter from the cream. The remaining product was skim milk. This was placed in a crock and left in a warm place perhaps on the back of a wood burning stove for a 1 or 2 days. The milk will sour and “clabber” or will curdle and separate from the “whey” which is the watery part of milk that separates from the curds. The curds were then removed and heated over a low flame to firm somewhat and then placed in cheesecloth and drained until only cheese curds were left. They would chill for a few hours, then add salt and fresh cream and store in their springhouse or cool cellar for up to 5 days.

We can make cottage cheese in our homes today in much the same way our forefathers did, using pasteurized milk. Milk that has been pasteurized has no bacteria, which is critical in “clabbering” essential in making cottage cheese. Good bacteria must be added in some form. Cultured buttermilk or plain cultured un-sweetened yogurt are good choices. You may also use rennet tablets available in most grocery stores.


Clabbering the milk
Pour 1 gallon of pasteurized milk into container- you may use stainless steel or glass. Make sure milk is at room temperature. Add one of the following:
4 tablespoons un-flavored yogurt (with bacillus)
1/2 cup fresh cultured buttermilk
1/4 tablet rennet which is dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Cover the container with a cloth that is thin- it needs to breath. Place in a warm place until it is clabbered (temperature at about 80 degrees). It will usually “clabber” in twelve to sixteen hours.

Cutting the curd
The curd, which will be a thick somewhat like soft cream cheese, will settle to the bottom. The whey will be on the top. Cut the curd allowing more of the liquid watery whey to seep out of the cheese. Cut into approximately 2-inch cubes.

Heat the curd
1. Set the container into another pan containing a few inches of water and bring to boil. Heat over boiling water until it reaches temperature of 115 degrees. Be careful any higher temperature will cause the cheese to be tough.
2. After heating check for firmness, the curds should retain their shape and should be “not too soft.”
3. Place a porous cloth inside a colander and drain off all of the whey. Rinse off the curds and drain again.

Now look what you’ve done!
Chill your cottage cheese for a few hours, salt it to taste. You may use cream if you wish. Cottage cheese is delicious seasoned with herbs perhaps dill, chives or parsley. One gallon of milk will make about 1 ¼ pounds of cottage cheese.