Making your own cottage cheese

October 12, 2009

Following hard on the heels of Stephen’s now-famous yoghurt-making antics, I thought I’d try out making cottage cheese, and see if the savings were enough to get me into the paper as well. I didn’t think that one would work twice, and thought I’d make do with the kind of crazy google hits were going to get off the frequent use of the word cottage.

If there is anything that makes me think of the 1970s it is cottage cheese. That and bean sprouts. But because around here we mostly stick to seasonal vegetables, getting greens for sandwiches is tricky, so sprouts it is. Likewise, with cheese being at times unreasonably expensive, cottage cheese is a good fat-and-protein addition to liven up lunches.

So how to make it? Easy. Put a litre of milk into a pot and apply heat, when it’s tipping 80-odd degrees, put one 1/4 cup of white vinegar into the mix and stir gently. The milk will curdle, and you strain the hot mixture through a muslin. And…. voila. Cottage cheese, or paneer, depending on your background.

I keep the whey and continually try to find uses for it, but let the curds cool in the fridge, mash it with a fork, and moisten it with some of that home-made yoghurt (you can’t use the whey, doesn’t work well). This makes it, to coin a phrase, just like the bought one.

And the savings. Well, I bought a litre of milk for this costing $2.09, and made 250g of cheese. 250g at the supermarket cost $2.35 the last time I checked. We’ll call that one “not a substantial saving”.

However, there are some key differences. My cottage cheese is incredibly simple to make, and is not time consuming. It is also without unnecessary packaging, and hasn’t been transported half-way across the country or world to my fridge (ignoring the packaging/transport of the milk, which I buy in bulk). Also, I know exactly what’s in it, something the me who has worked in food manufacturing knows is very, very important.

All in all you’d need decent access to a ready supply of cheap or free milk to make this one work well. But, there is satisfaction in making your own food, and in knowing that it has a low carbon-cost. Plus, you get to try celery sticks stuffed with raisins, and topped with cottage cheese! 1978 par excellence.


  1. I am thinking of getting a cow – seriously. we are looking for some land (Checked a nice 10 acre block today) and I know how to milk a house cow. Bit of a pain but free milk and cottage cheese migth be nice and if it doesn’t work out – beef (sorry vegetarians) Also any excess milk from the cow will feed the pigs

  2. Do you want to milk her every day though? And aren’t the overheads in vets and servicing etc quite high?Keeping stock is a real commitment I’d be careful of.

    • Milk twice a day – a real bind. I have done it before. Vets yes a cost but servicing etc depends on who you know. Its a long term plan for me

  3. I think the beauty of making your own dairy products is that you can use organic milk and have organic yogurt, cream cheese etc, which costs a small fortune but is a lot cheaper if you make it yourself. I’ve been looking for a good ricotta recipe. You got one?

  4. at the moment i’m trying to find rennet so i can make my own mozzerella.

    and strangely, the only ricotta recipes i can find use the exact same method above!

  5. I would have thought you could get rennet at Moore Wilsons Che?
    otherwise, i guess you’ll just have to source the abomasum of a suckling kid…

  6. The brand you’ll be looking for is Renco, usually near the gelatine etc at NW…

    • awesome… because killing a suckling kid just is not really in my repertoire.

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