Cheesemaking is arguably not the most photogenic kitchen project. Especially when photographed in an orange and purple kitchen, after dark, under fluorescent light. But that's how it goes. I couldn't wait to share our latest passion with you so you get the ugly pics.
Last week we picked up an extra gallon of milk from the farm for cheese making. Our intention was mozzarella but somehow we shifted our plans and went for cottage cheese instead. We made the recipe for large curd cottage cheese from the book The Home Creamery. And while the recipes in this book are designed for pasteurized milk, it worked perfectly with raw milk.
The process was so simple that the kids did most of the work. (Okay, Lupine did most of the work, but Sage jumped in to measure ingredients and stir a bit too.) And I would profess that if my five year old can do it – very nearly on her own – you posses the skills to make it too.
One gallon of milk made around four cups of cheese. Then I cooked the whey again and was able to get a 1/4 C or so of ricotta. The rest of the whey went to my dogs as a treat. Nothing was wasted. Even the jars get washed and refilled. I love that.
Before I dig in and tell you about the cheese, let's talk milk quality for a moment. (No, not raw-vs-pasteurized, but if you want to have that chat we can.) I mean vitamins. We get milk from two different friends. Both farm organically, but one has their cows out on pasture already and the other does not. If you look at the top photo, can you see the difference in their milk? It's not a lighting trick. There is a reflection on that jar, but the color is dramatically different in person. The bottle on the right has a golden hue to it. That's what you are looking for. The white milk most of us grew up on is lacking the nutrients that we need. It's from a cow that wasn't fed it proper diet and is vitamin deficient. The more yellow or golden your milk or butter, the better it is for you.
As an aside, I taught a neighbor how to make butter for a school project. We had raw summer cream, skimmed from our pastured cow's milk. They had a pint of conventional heavy cream from Walmart. When we were done our butter was bright golden yellow, theirs was almost pure white. And pretty much devoid of nutrients. Grass-fed dairy was a part of Lupine's healing protocol for early childhood tooth decay. The white milk had no place in that protocol. What color is your butter?
Okay. Enough milk talk. Back to the cheese.
A basic cottage cheese recipe is so simple. All you need for the batch we crafted is milk (raw or otherwise), rennet (we buy ours at the coop but a cheese supply store would work too), and a splash of cultured buttermilk.
And how did it taste? Well, my intention was to photograph the final product in a lovely bail-top jar the next morning. By the time I got my camera, the entire batch was gone. In Sage's words (my cottage cheese addict), "That was the best cottage cheese I've had in my entire life!"
If you are looking for more homemade dairy recipes, I've shared simple tutorials for butter, yogurt, and ricotta cheese. And while I don't feel right about sharing the recipe from the book we used, this one looks pretty darn close. (And he got the pretty "after" shot of the cheese in a bowl.)
Here's to making your own!