I've been attempting to make cottage cheese before moving onto more complicated cheeses like mozzarella. I say attempting because I've only been mildly successful so far.
I've tried 3 different recipes, all very similar, but with very different results. I will be trying a 4th recipe later this week.
The basic recipes are all follow the same process;
- heat the milk to a given temperature
- add the acid to start the separation of the milk
- let sit for a time
- cut the curds (if possible)
- heat slowly to separate curds from whey (to approx 46oC/115oF) and dry out the curds (up to 2 hours)
- strain for a time in cheesecloth
- add cream
The key differences in the recipes are vinegar vs. rennet, temperature and sitting/curdling time. The two vinegar based recipes I tried (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/quick-cottage-cheese-recipe.html, http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/how-to-make-cottage-cheese-01132013) used a high temperature (85oC/185oF and 49oC/120oF) gave a very small curd and the cheese came out more like a ricotta cheese.
The third recipe I tried uses rennet instead of vinegar to make the curd (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/la-presure-home-1/). When I first tried this one, the curd didn't set. The recipe calls to heat it to30oC/85oF and then sit for 4 hours for the curd to be made. When I checked back after a few hours, no setting was happening. As it happens, I turned on the oven to make dinner and left the "cheese" on the stove top and lo and behold the curds began to set.
I think the trick with this one is that the original recipe is from a warmer climate, or house and the ambient temperature is warm enough to keep the curds setting whereas my house is cool 22oC/72oF or so.
I am going to try the recipe from here (without the culture) using the rennet and the heat/timing to set the curd and keeping the heat at 30oC/85oF using my dehydrator.
The proportions of ingredients look to be:
- 2 cups milk
- 1 drop rennet
- 1/8 tsp salt
As for the left over whey? I'm going to use that in my bread.