Quick Cottage Cheese

Total Time:
50 min
10 min
35 min
5 min

about 2 cups

  • 1 gallon pasteurized skim milk
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup half-and half-or heavy cream

Pour the skim milk into a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat to 120 degrees F. Remove from the heat and gently pour in the vinegar. Stir slowly for 1 to 2 minutes. The curd will separate from the whey. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a colander lined with a tea towel and allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse under cold water for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd is completely cooled, squeezing and moving the mixture the whole time. Once cooled, squeeze as dry as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine, breaking up the curd into bite-size pieces as you go. If ready to serve immediately, stir in the half-and-half or heavy cream. If not, transfer to a sealable container and place in the refrigerator. Add the half and half or heavy cream just prior to serving.

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    67 Reviews
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    Yummy! Salt to taste. I used farm buttermilk (Homestead Creamery Inc. VA.) to curds prior to eating. This gives the thicker cream texture of store bought but taste much better. I am making the ricotta cheese now.
    I can't figure out what I did wrong! My curds turned into a hard rubbery blob. The recipe is so simple I have no idea how i could have screwed this up! Any help???
    I have a suggestion for the remaining whey (which is very rich in protein). I make curry often and replace the water I use in curry with the leftover whey from the cottage cheese. The slight vinegary taste complements the strong flavors of the curry.
    I thought the cheese was really good - but I am concerned about what to do with the large amount of leftover whey. I read the posts about making ricotta - but I agree with one reviewer that there is not enough albumin left in the whey to make ricotta - at least not very much. 
    Can you truly make bread with the whey despite the amount of vinegar in it? If someone has successfully made bread with it please let us know. Sourdough bread might be a good application to try since it has a sour taste anyway. Next time I will try it.
    You can make Norwegian 'Brown Cheese' by taking the whey and reducing it until it is thick and adding cream to it. It will harden into a block or leave it creamy to spread on toast. It has a salty caramel taste to it. The amount of vinegar that is added initially will be minimal to the end flavor. Most other cheeses are made by adding or creating via bacteria, some acid.
    Every week I make 'Greek' yogurt in a crockpot with 1 gallon of 1 or 2% milk.Super easy 
    This week I saved a quart of milk to try the cottage cheese and turned it into paneer with chives. 
    I don't know why people have problems. It will work with any milk. Heat milk, stir in vinegar or lemon juice. You see it separate.Cool. I then drain it through a fine mesh strainer before using a tea towel. 
    Dump in towel, twist out any remaining liquid. Rinse with cold water. Twist again . Dump dry curds in bowl, crumble, add a little kosher salt, add some dry chives. This is cottage cheese if you add a little milk or cream.  
    But throw back in towel, twist and flatten, Put in frig for an hour with weight on top. Voila..paneer. Slice and enjoy on crackers or Indian recipe
    What fun! I just made this and it is Excellent. This has spoiled me for store bought. It's wonderful dry without adding the cream. I put in the towel lined collander and let the sprayer rinse while I stirred through it. No vinegar taste. Pressed dry and added salt to taste. Thanks Alton.
    I tried this, and not only was it quick and easy, it was the BEST cottage cheese I've ever had!! One problem I had though was involving the leftover curds. I stored them in a sealed container in the fridge like it said to do in the recipe, and then when I went to take out a portion to add cream this morning, the curds had changed to a kind of clearish color and the consistency had changed to a more gummy texture. Does anyone know why this may have happened? The cottage cheese I made from the fresh curds yesterday was perfect so I'm not sure what happened overnight.
    Works well... I tried it with lactose free milk.. didn't accomplish much cause I added cream.. but it was good. The best part was knowing what was in it.
    Better than store bought because I can control the amount of salt and creaminess. Very easy to make. Bought a gallon of 2% milk, consumed some, then left for Tahoe to catch the 2012 Spring Break snows. Drank some more after returning and had 2 1/2 quarts of milk remaining as of the expiration date. Although the milk would have been good for several more days, this was a prime opportunity to try another of Alton's never-disappoint recipes. Based on other reviews, I used 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 tsp of salt for 2 quarts of the milk. The taste and texture were perfect. Taste testing included spreading a bit of the cheese on whole grain crackers. Heavenly (Tahoe pun intended.
    Soooo good. I don't quite agree that I'll never buy store bought again, but I'll definitely be making this frequently. Followed the recipe exactly and had no problems whatsoever. I did cut back on the salt as some folks suggested - I think it's just a matter of taste, so add the salt gradually until it gets to your preferred saltiness level. I think I got a little under 2 cups, but it was close enough. My only complaint is that now I have to buy a bigger pot so I can make a double batch next time. Also, for those who said this was expensive, they must either be buying really cheap cottage cheese or really expensive milk. Mine actually came out a little cheaper than the cottage cheese I usually buy, but the milk was on sale. At regular price it comes out about the same. Now I want to try to make fresh mozzarella with the curds.
    Excellent, and a fun project with kids! My only reservations are in technique, so I'll just offer them as suggestions and not count it against the recipe. First, I loooove salt, and this is really too much. I would recommend starting with one teaspoon and seeing if you want more. Second, my curds turned out awfully mealy, because I apparently overworked them during the rinsing stage. So, with that knowledge, you should be able to make one mighty fine bowl of cottage cheese!
    I have heard that the mealiness comes from heating it too hot or too quickly.
    I just made this today and I was pleasantly surprised! This was really good. I don't care for store bought cottage cheese (I have tried so many brandsexcept for Knudsen which is not sold at any of the stores I go to (and it is expensive. I like a small, dry curd with just enough cream so the curd is not swimming. I can do that with this recipe! Very easy and mine tased a little like mozzarella. I will reduce the salt as 1 1/2 tsp of kosher was a tad much for my tastes but other than that, this was great!
    I've made this recipe twice now. The first time I used it for cottage cheese and it was delicious! I used whole milk both times and used 1 cup of vinegar instead of 3/4ths. I got about 2 cups of cheese curds. The second time, I let it drain over night then sliced it up to make fried cheese curds. Delicious! Both times I boiled the whey with a teaspoon of salt, let it sit to cool and then strained it. I got ricotta. Someone said it couldn't be done, but it can. :
    Thank-you Alton for sharing your recipe... I'm Looking forward to making my own cottage cheese and enjoyed reading all the extra information members have offered... Will post my cheese making results soon...
    I made this 3x so far. I used whole goat milk, because we farm goats. But the same process works. If the milk is not hot enough (you can go up to boiling it then you get low yield, and post silly add-ons like - and then I made ricotta cheese with all the protein I didn't use in my first 1/2 cup of cottage cheese that I made. It makes about 2 cups.. and if you don't have 2 cups of curd, then you also won't have yellow, clearish whey, and solid white curds. I skipped the salt and pressed it into paneer, and another time added 1/2 tsp. salt and some minced garlic, and another time just served the cottage cheese with local berries over the top.
    Wonderful recipe & so easy! Everyone loved it, especially the kids. I highly recommend adding the half & half and salt as the recipe suggests. For the reviewer who said it has no flavor on it's own, go look at the label on a container of cottage cheese at the store. They add salt and cream among other things. It's ridiculous to review this recipe without adding anything to it. I have used a lot of Alton Brown's recipes and never had one turn out bad. Try his recipe for brined turkey for Thanksgiving! I've used it several times and it's wonderful.
    Much better tasting than the one I buy at the store! I divided the recipe by 4 so I only used 1 qt of milk and that made for one large helping that I ate right away. I was worried that the vinegar taste would be prominent but it wasn't at all. I used half-and-half and it made the curds very moist. Incidently, I don't have a thermometer to tell the temp of the milk so I let it warm on medium till I saw a few bubbles (but not yet boiling - apparently this was too warm because I burned some of the milk and my cottage cheese ended up having some brown pieces BUT it still tasted good and had a nice texture.
    Recipe works well; rather fascinating to watch curd appear before my eyes. But absolutely no flavor by itself so kinda sad about that as I eat cottage cheese daily. Miss Muffet must have been pretty hungry to eat this.
    much better than store bought especially with the heavy cream
    Disappointing! I ended up with half a cup of curd with a strong vinegar taste. 
    I was excited to make this recipe (after seeing the episode), but will not try it again as there is nothing that I could do different since I followed the recipe exactly as instructed.
    Try a different ingredient than vinegar to produce the curds, there is lemon juice or rennet, for example. That will resolve the vinegar taste, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it more. 
    So this is what real cottage cheese tastes like!!! Yummy!!! I enjoy having cottage cheese for breakfast but since trying this recipe I know what I've been missing. The texture and flavor far exceeds store bought. Definitely worth the effort!  
    Thanks Alton!
    It is almost like a cross between fresh mozzarella and cottage cheese. It is so easy to make that I will never buy cottage cheese again.
    This may be a silly question, but I would like to make this recipe and want to be sure. Is "white" vinegar the same as "distilled" vinegar? If not, can you please tell me the difference and where to get it?
    I watched this episode and knew that skim milk is the only kind you can use for this recipe. I followed the recipe to a "T" and it came out perfectly becuase people have different tastes for the amount of salt i started with less until it was the way i wanted it. the texture was perfect it didnt gum up on my teeth like store bought tends to do. plus it tastes like mozzarella. My mom in law hates cottage cheese but loved this recipe i served some with berries and the rest i mixed in with salsa and served with chips perfect recipe will make this again!
    I am super upset with the turnout. I made the "cheese" exactly as instructed and in the end wound up with a hard dry yellow mess, it is nasty and inedible looks and tastes like shards of hard plastic,,......
    This is not true cultured cottage cheese, but makes something like it. If you squeeze it out good, it makes a chewy mozzarella crumble. Once you add the cream, it looks more like cottage cheese. I served it with apple slices and it was delicious, but I also imagine it would be great added to pesto over pasta, or in a lasagna. Oh, and don't try to use the whey. Don't forget about the 3/4 cup vinegar that has been added!
    My best suggestion would be to use skim milk like the recipe calls for instead of whole. I remember watching the episode and Alton was very specific about the milk being skim
    Cut the entire recipe in half. Curd texture was like a very soft mozzarella. This does involve a good bit of work. But, if you are a foodie like I am, you are just playing around in the kitchen anyways.
     I can't help but wonder if those complaining about the saltiness used your typical grind (iodized salt) an not kosher. Use kosher, and only use half. When making some up for consumption (adding the ? and ?), salt to taste.
    relatively easy to make, easy to eat, tastes good, but I don't know if I'll really "never by cottage cheese again" I just don't think that it was that amazing.
    I would like to make this recipe and was wondering about how long the cottage cheese curds will last in the refrigerator?
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