When you peek into the refrigerator and notice the cottage cheese has gone sour, there’s no need to run to the store when you can make your own. Off the Fence Farms, established 10 years ago by Steve and Jetti Willett, is an organic farm located on W. Mill Road in Evansville that has created this recipe for homemade cottage cheese. Off the Fence Farms, which is now owned by the Willetts’ daughter and son-in-law Gwen and Kenneth McTaggart, offers a range of food, all ethically grown or produced, including CSA (community supported agriculture) vegetables, a dairy share program for raw milk, and pastured eggs fed certified non-GMO grains free of corn and soy. The raw milk is excellent for making cottage cheese, and although it can be made with pasteurized milk, Gwen says the taste is much better raw with cultures and probiotics. Follow this recipe Off the Fence uses to create their cottage cheese.
What You’ll Need:
• A gallon of milk – raw or any non-homogenized milk
• ½ C. mesophilic yogurt culture such as Matsoni (optional)
• 8 drops liquid rennet or 4 drops if using double strength rennet dissolved in about ¼ C. lukewarm water
• A large stainless steel pot or other non-reactive cookware
• A wooden or stainless steel spoon
• A knife long enough to reach the bottom of the pot
• Cheesecloth or a piece of a cotton sheet
First, skim the cream off the top of the milk. Pour the milk into the large pot and gently warm to 70 degrees if culturing or a temperature between 70 and 90 degrees if you’re not adding a culture. The temperature doesn’t have to be precise but don’t get too close to 80 degrees if you’re adding a culture; you’ll run the risk of killing the bacteria. Once your milk is warmed, remove it from the stove and gently stir in the culture, if using, as well as the rennet. Cover and allow to sit five hours at room temperature.
After five hours, the milk should have formed a mass — pulling away from the sides of the pan — with a layer of yellowish whey on top. With the long knife, cut the curd. Make four sets of cuts — each of them about a half-inch in width. The first set will be vertical cuts from the top of the pot to the bottom each about 1/2 inch apart, the second set will be horizontal 1/2 inch apart, the next will be diagonal cuts from the upper right hand corner to the lower left hand corner, and the last will be diagonal from the upper left hand corner to the lower right hand corner. Line a colander with your cloth and place in the sink if you want to discard the whey, or put it over another pot if you want to keep it.
Gently spoon the curds out into the colander. The whey will begin to drain away immediately. Gently stir the curds over the course of the next hour. Stir every 15 minutes.
After about an hour, spoon out the cottage cheese into jars or a bowl. Place the cottage cheese in the refrigerator.
For more information about Off the Fence Farms, visit offthefencefarms.com.