In the last week, a cold front has brought a series of storms across the Western Cape. Looking out the window, the rain is falling sideways and palm trees swing wildly. I heard August was generally a bad “winter” month here, but it was hard to believe when I was walking around over the weekend in a t-shirt in the sunshine along the promenade. I get it now. I even bought a scarf.
In the meantime, while I stay mostly indoors either at a hot yoga class or huddled beside the heater in the apartment with my jacket on, I have decided to make some cottage cheese, not only because it’s so easy to make and tastes great, but also to generate more heat by turning on the stove.
So with a mug of rooibos tea in one hand and a milk thermometer in the other, I transformed some full fat milk into fluffy, creamy cheese in the span of 5 hours. The amount of time you actually need to be in the kitchen? 10 minutes.
Cottage Cheese Recipe
1 litre milk (I used full cream milk, but low fat works too)
4 drops of liquid rennet
½ tsp of salt
Heat the milk in a pot on the stove, slowly, until it reaches 30 C on a milk thermometer.
Remove from heat, add rennet and gently stir for 2 minutes.
Cover the pot with a clean tea towel, place the lid on top, and let stand at room temperature for 4 hours.
After 4 hours, the milk will be softly set and jelly-like. You can test that it is ready by inserting a knife at a 45-degree angle. If it breaks clean, it’s ready.
Using a large knife or metal spatula, slice the curd across the pot one way and then do the same in the opposite direction.
Place the pot back on the stove, sprinkle in the salt, and “cook” the curd over low heat, stirring gently.
In a few minutes, the curd will separate from the whey, looking more and more like cottage cheese.
Remove from heat.
Pour the curds and whey into a cheesecloth-lined strainer with a bowl underneath to strain out the whey.
Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the curd and let it strain for 1 hour in the fridge.
Remove from the strainer, add more salt to taste, and enjoy!
You can use the reserved whey to make ricotta (recipe found here).
Make sure everything you use when making cheese at home has been cleaned carefully with hot water and soap, and then rinsed well with more hot water.