Homemade Cottage Cheese
All utensils should be cleaned very well before beginning.
1 quart (1 liter) whole milk
4 drops liquid rennet
½ teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
6 tablespoons heavy cream (or half-and-half), or a mixture of heavy cream and buttermilk
Heat the milk very slowly in a medium-sized, non-reactive saucepan. Use the lowest heat possible and if you have a flame-tamer for underneath the saucepan, now’s a good excuse to use it.
Insert a thermometer into the milk (I use a chocolate thermometer, which is easy to read) and heat until the milk reaches 85 degrees F.
Turn off heat and stir in rennet. Stir gently for 2 minutes.
Cover the saucepan with a clean tea towel draped over the top and put the lid on. Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, the mixture will be very softly set and marvelously jiggly. Take a sharp knife and cut the mixture diagonally 5 or 6 times, then do the same in the opposite direction.
Sprinkle in the salt then set the pan over extremely low heat and cook, stirring gently, until the curds separate from the whey. It will take just a few minutes.
Do not overcook it at this point or your cottage cheese curds will be tough.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth or étamine, and set it inside a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the cloth and stir it gently to drain off the copious amount of whey. (You can use it in bread making or in soups in place of water.)
Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the cheese and chill the strainer (keeping the bowl underneath) in the refrigerator. Let drain for about 1 hour, stirring once or twice.
Spoon the cottage cheese from the cloth into a bowl and stir in the cream, or cream and buttermilk. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.