Eric Rector (Monroe Cheese Studio) and Jamien Shields (Turner Farm Creamery) have collaborated on this simple and straight-forward recipe for making a cottage cheese, just as might have been made every day by settlers on the coast.
Christmas Cove Cottage Cheese
For 1 gallon of fresh milk:
Add 1/8 tsp MM series freeze-dried culture, or an equivalent mesophilic culture at 70 deg F, then let it “wake up” for 30 minutes.
Stir in 1/8 tsp Calcium Chloride (CaCl) solution for a firm curd, then heat milk to 86 deg F while stirring.
Add 1/2 drop rennet (double-strength, diluted in water) just to incorporate, then settle the milk, cover the pot, and let sit at room temp (72 deg F) for at least 4 hours.
Cut into 3/4″ cubes taking care not to damage the curd.
Raise the temp while stirring, gently at first, to 113 deg F over about 30 minutes.
Drain curds; then wash the warm curds with very cold water to cool them completely, then drain the curds again, as much as possible.
Stir 7 grams of salt (1/4 oz.) into the curds. If you wish to add add any spices, herbs, or flavorings, they can go in now, just before packing.
Pack into tub/containers; the curds will continue to weep whey resulting in a creamy mix to help keep the curds semi-independent. If you set aside the whey from the first draining in the pot, you could skim the whey cream that rises to the top overnight and add that to the packed curds for a creamier flavor.
Yield: about three pint containers (40 oz).
I had to chuckle at the comment about this being a cottage cheese recipe just as the early settlers might have made.
My grandmother never used rennet in her cottage cheese, and I know she never used a freeze dried culture! If she used any culture at all, it was from the last batch of cottage cheese–basically curdled milk was her culture. She set the pan of fresh milk in a warm place, and when it had curdled enough, she broke up the curds, heated it to release some more whey, salted it a bit, and served it. Sometimes she added a bit of cream. Yum!
I admit, though, it did take a lot longer to make.