How To Make Cottage Cheese With Lightly-Soured Milk

by Tammy Taylor~

I love milk so I always have some in my fridge.  But sometimes travel or just the busyness of our lives means that milk sits in the fridge long enough that it’s not flavorful to drink anymore.  It’s become lightly soured.

Now I’m not talking about SPOILED milk here. I’m just speaking of milk a little too close to (or even just past) the date on the carton. That’s when the flavor starts to change somewhat.  In the past although I hated to throw it away, I’d sigh and pour it down the drain.  What a waste!  Then I thought for a moment – you can use lightly soured milk for making biscuits, sandwich bread or pancakes. I wonder if there’s another way to use it.  I know, I’ll make cottage cheese!  Oh man, it’s so easy…

I often use lightly-soured milk to make my own delicious cottage cheese. This reduces our food waste and provides delicious food. #TxHomesteader

On this occasion I had about half a gallon of milk remaining & it was just past the date on the carton. Of course I’d never try this with SPOILED milk, but lightly soured milk is perfect to use for making cottage cheese.

Heat Lightly-Soured Milk

So I poured that milk into a pan and heated it to 185 degrees. I was careful not to let the milk get hotter than that since too much heat could change the texture of the curds and make them rubbery. Low & slow heat is best.

I often use lightly-soured milk to make my own delicious cottage cheese. This reduces our food waste and provides delicious food. #TxHomesteader

After my milk reached 185 degrees I stirred in a tablespoon of plain white vinegar. This vinegar provides the acid the milk needs for separating the curds from the whey.  Using a gentle stirring motion with a wooden slotted spoon I stirred about 3-4 minutes. Now I figured the curds were as separated as they would get.

Strain Curds

So I turned off the heat & poured the hot curds & whey into a colander that had been lined with cheesecloth. I let the curds drip until the whey was all drained off.  I kept that whey for use next time I’m making my homemade bread. What a perfect way to use a byproduct of my cottage cheese.  It not only adds a little extra nutrition but also more flavor. So I allowed the whey to cool and placed it in a glass jar & stored it in my refrigerator. I’ll be sure to use it the next time I make my homemade KitchenAid sandwich bread!

Now that the curds are drained and cooled I crumbled the curds with my freshly-washed hands to the size I wanted them to be.  You can keep the curds large or crumble them smaller, but I prefer the smaller curds.  This kind of flexibility is the beauty of making it yourself!

I finished with just over a cup of curd.  (Your quantity of curds could vary based on what kind of milk you’re using.  Whole milk will give more curds, skim milk much less) 

To my curds I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but I guess that’s totally optional.  Then I splashed in just enough fresh milk to give it a creamy texture.  If you have half & half it will make it even creamier, but I seldom do so I just use milk. Whether skim, 2% or whole milk, I’m just splashing in a small amount and stirring it in.

I often use lightly-soured milk to make my own delicious cottage cheese. This reduces our food waste and provides delicious food. #TxHomesteader

Delicious Homemade Cottage Cheese

After a quick stir to combine the curds, milk & salt and I’m done.  Making this cottage cheese is even easier & quicker than making Yogurt.  And I love that this soured milk wasn’t wasted.  I store my cottage cheese in a repurposed glass jar in the fridge, and typically enjoy it with cold slices of cantaloupe from my garden.  Delicious!

I’m sharing the recipe below for about 1/2 gallon of soured milk. You may need to adjust some of the ingredients based on the amount of soured milk you actually have.

5 from 2 votes
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Homemade Cottage Cheese

Author Texas Homesteader

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon lightly soured milk
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
  • Splash of fresh milk

Instructions

Directions:

  1. Pour 1/2 gallon of lightly-soured milk into a pan. Heat milk to 185 degrees. (Don't heat higher than that or the curds may become an unpleasant texture.)

  2. Add 1 Tablespoon plain white vinegar and stir continuously until milk curds separate from the whey. It could take three to four minutes for all the curds to separate.
  3. Strain separated milk into cheesecloth-lined colander and allow the milk curds to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, break up curds to the size you like them using clean hands. If desired add 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste (optional). Stir in a splash of fresh milk, cream or half-and-half.
  4. ENJOY!

 

~TxH~

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6 thoughts on “How To Make Cottage Cheese With Lightly-Soured Milk

  1. Nancy

    This sounds just like when Miss Susie showed me how to make ricotta cheese. Only we didn’t add milk afterward. I used to get raw milk from some Mennonite friends down the road from us and I’d make butter. I would drain the buttermilk of and use that in my bread and biscuit recipes.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I end up with a partial gallon of milk that’s lightly soured more often than I’d like to admit, Nancy. I’m thrilled to have something to do with it now instead of just pouring it down the drain. ~TxH~

      Reply
  2. Evelyn Edgett

    Oooh, thanks for this recipe, I have copied it out and will be trying it soon. I had to laugh about saving the whey, since years ago I made cheese for the first time, using a gallon of fresh goat’s milk a friend gave me for helping her with a project. I followed the instructions to the letter, and I ended up with a pretty nice little round of cheese that tasted good. I looked at the whey left in the big pot, and since I hate to waste anything, I wondered how I could use it. I knew it could be fed to some livestock, but at that time I didn’t have any, nor did I know you could bake with it. Then I recalled that old nursery rhyme about Little Miss Muffet, “eating her curds and whey”. I thought okay, I’ll give it a try. I scooped out a cup of the still warm liquid and took a big swallow. Oh. My. GOSH! I now knw where the goat smell went–it was in the WHEY! I spit it out, but not before I choked and it went up my nose and out over my face and neck. I rinsed my mouth, then brushed my teeth and gargled several times, washed my face–I could NOT get rid of the smell and taste. All I could smell for days was goat. I decided that if Little Miss Muffet could eat THAT stuff, why the heck was she scared of a spider?

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh man, you gave me quite the chuckle this morning Evelyn. (note to self, do NOT try to taste goat-milk whey!) ~TxH~

      Reply
  3. Lauri

    I agree, homemade cottage cheese is so good, & easy to make. I wish I had thought of using slightly soured milk, I just threw some away! D-:=

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Although I love cottage cheese, RancherMan will have nothing to do with it. So I don’t buy it. But if ever there’s milk that’s starting to lose its drinkability I know it won’t be wasted and I’ll finally get to enjoy cottage cheese too! ~TxH~

      Reply

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