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Breakfast/Brunch, Healthy

No Rennet and No Fret Cottage Cheese

by Nick

I watch and read pretty much everything Alton Brown does. I think he is the ultimate Macheesmo guy. He’s adventurous, funny (mostly), and a damn good cook. That said, when I saw his “Good Eats” episode on milk I didn’t really think I would see much that I was interested in. I don’t love milk except in its non-milk forms: cheese, butter, etc. You will never find me eating a bowl of cereal with milk. Just not my thing.

My ears definitely perked up though when he started making his own cottage cheese. Typically, cottage cheese is made with Rennet (most cheese-making uses it actually). I’m much too lazy to go out and find Rennet. It’s one of those hurdles that I have not yet jumped in my cooking “career.” But Alton’s recipe (bless him) doesn’t use Rennet. It uses plain white vinegar. I HAVE THAT.

So I promised my test audience (girlfriend) that I was making my own cottage cheese for breakfast today, to which she replied, “Weird.” It was every bit as easy as Alton promised and I ended up with this.

The recipe I ultimately used was a bit different than Alton’s based on some other sources I checked out and also some comments that were left on his original recipe.

Yield
2-3 cups cottage cheese
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Homemade Cottage Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half
  • Salt

Helpful Equipment

  • Cheesecloth
  • Colander

Directions

1) Pour the milk into a medium-large saucepan. Bring to 120 degrees. And look. I don't have a thermometer. I guessed. You want it to feel slightly warm since your body is at 98 degrees. Just go slow and stir continuously.

2) When it gets to that temp, take it off the heat and stir in the vinegar. It should start to separate.

3) Once everything is stirred together, put on the lid and let it sit for 30 minutes. You want to give the curds plenty of time to cool a bit and also firm up.

4) Pour the curds and whey through a colander lined with cheesecloth or a fine clean towel. Gather up the corners of the towel and press the whey out (lightly). Don't show off your muscles here brother, just a light press will work.

5) Now the key part. Turn on the cold water and start rinsing off the curds. Keep the towel wrapped tightly around the curd but slowly roll it around. You have three goals here: 1) wash off the vinegar, 2) break up the curds, and 3) cool it off. Spend a few minutes on this. You can't over wash it.

6) Now put your curds in a bowl and add your Half and Half. Stir it together well making sure your curds are broken apart. I would taste it now before you salt it. It is pretty salty as is. I added just a few small pinches of kosher salt.


This would be perfect with any sort of fruit or just by itself. It is surprisingly light. Not quite as heavy or thick as the store bought version. It actually has a ricotta like consistency which is to say – tasty.

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18 comments on “No Rennet and No Fret Cottage Cheese

  1. Hey there dude, great post, this might sound like a stupid question coming from a aussie, what do u call half and half tho? love to try all your recipes but need to try to work out what some ingredients need to be replaced with what is available in australia.

  2. Sure thing. Half and Half is an american invention I think. It's basically 50% cream and 50% whole milk. So if you just mix those two things together you'll be all set ;)

  3. So I’ve been looking for cottage cheese recipes (especially those w/o rennet since I don’t have any).

    I too, came across Alton Brown’s recipe and have printed it out to try. Milk choices are kind of scarce for me right now, and the only available kind is either UHT box milk (skim or whole), and a milk powder that has whey in it. Am thinking to experiment with both kinds.

    Anywho, I had read on several other sites that cottage cheese made w/o rennet does not taste as good as the commercial stuff. But after reading your blog (and seeing the photo – thanks, btw!) I am inclined to think… well, not sure where the other sites owners got their opinion.

    Have you tried making this with lemon juice?
    I imagine it wouldn’t taste any different than the vinegar one as it’s to be washed off real well. But wondered if the curdling effect is just as good.

    Nice site – will visit often

    1. Hey Lily, I haven’t tried making it with lemon juice, but I think it would work fine. I think the curdling effect would be just as good.

      I definitely thought this version was very similar to store bought. I loved the texture and freshness of it.

  4. Hi Nick,

    My apologies but I forgot to ask:

    About how many servings does your recipe yield?

    (i.e., 2 servings at 1/2 cup each, etc.)

    Thanks

    1. Hey Lily, Yea… this recipe will make a bit over a cup. You could easily double it though if you wanted to make more.

  5. Hey Nick,

    This past weekend I made the ricottage cheese… it was soooo good.

    The only thing I did different from your recipe was that I used full milk (instead of half and half because I forgot to buy it at the store)… it came out really good though!

    The milk I used was fortified with whey, so using 1 cup of milk powder and 7 cups of water (and a couple tablespoons of vinegar), I yielded nearly 2 quarts of whey and very little cheese (maybe half cup)

    Also, I didn’t end up rinsing mine out (was planning on it, but after squeezing the whey out I had to taste it as-is… no hint of vinegar so didn’t bother with it.

    Next time I’m going to try liquid milk w/o whey.

    Anywho, that’s my story.

  6. Hi Nick,

    I found your recipe while searching for a no rennet cottage cheese recipe. I too, am too lazy to search dark alley ways for this mysterious ingredient. But we love cottage cheese! I was expecting slightly inferior results due to the lack of rennet. I’m so glad I found you because the results were amazing! Way better than any store bought cottage cheese! We ate the whole thing. The only thing I really did differently is substitute milk for half-n-half. I photographed the process and you can see my results here~

    http://poppyjuice-poppy.blogspot.com/2013/04/easy-and-delicious-homemade-cottage.html

    I did link your recipe in the article, hope that is okay. Thanks again for the fantastic recipe. I’m your newest fan!

    1. Hey Poppy! Thanks. Been a long time since I checked this post out, but I do love it. Glad you liked it and it worked for you.

      Cheers!
      NIck

  7. Thank you for sharing this! I made a no-fat version with powdered milk and I used lemon juice to curdle it. Worked out pretty well. The curds are a little “chewy”, I guess from the lack of fat, but I can live with it. I mixed in a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt to give it some creaminess. I also didn’t rinse out the lemon juice – I don’t mind the acidity. Finally, I added a bit of stevia to sweeten it. This is a keeper!

  8. wondering what the difference between cottage cheese and ricotta cheese is? for this exact same recipe, some people on the internet call it ricotta some call it cottage…..genuinely confused!

  9. Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are basically exact opposites… cottage cheese tends to be salty, ricotta cheese is sweet (often used in desserts). Cottage cheese is somewhat lumpy, while ricotta has a smoother texture. Cottage cheese is made of casein (one of the proteins in milk, about 20% of it) and ricotta is made of whey (the other protein in milk, about 80% of it).

  10. Hi great page! I just wanted to add, that I did make what I will call here “Queso Blanco” from soy-milk. I did this to try it out… and it works just as cow-milk. Just added the lemon or vinegar and the rest is the same.
    I wish I had a recipe for a hard cheese bc I would like to try to make a hard-cheese from soy and without rennet.

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