Homemade Cottage Cheese From North Central Kansas

Reader Contribution by The Mother Earth News Editors
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This story is from Chris Long, submitted as part of our Wisdom From Our Elders collection of self-sufficient tales from yesteryear.

I grew up in a self-sufficient homestead on the plains of North Central Kansas in the 1930s. My mother often made homemade cottage cheese. We always used skim milk so the cream could be taken along with the eggs to “trade” for groceries. We were eating “healthy” and didn’t know it! We let a gallon of the milk set on the back of the cook stove (where the water heated, it was always warm) until it “clabbered.” The clabbered milk should look kind of like jello. This could take a day or more.

When I make cottage cheese today, I add a half cup of buttermilk, which speeds the process up, and I make it in my crockpot at a low temperature. Then, I use a large whisk to stir occasionally and cook until curds form and separate. This process takes a day or more. Place cheesecloth in a strainer or colander and pour mixture in. Drain thoroughly. Add cream or half-and-half, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

I found another recipe on the internet for quick cottage cheese. You heat a gallon of skim milk to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, remove from heat, and add 3/4 cup vinegar. Stir slowly for 1 to 2 minutes. Curd should separate from whey. Cover and let set for 30 minutes, drain through cheesecloth, and rinse in cold water. Squeeze as dry as possible. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon salt. Store in refrigerator until needed. Add cream or half-and-half as desired.

Photo Credit: Fotolia/Mara Zemgaliete

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