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Cottage Cheesy Ruminations

Did you know that there were regional styles of cottage cheese?

Neither did I, until I moved to Florida (and even then it took me over four years to discover it). I've been buying the stuff for a while, and mostly, I've been buying the store generic (Publix, if you must know), which I've never been that pleased with--liquidy and runny, regardless of curd size. Recently, Patricia tried a different, name brand. Same thing. So it's not like they saved money for the store brand by adding water and/or other locally available liquids, such as alligator effluent.

But I was recently there, searching for some other kind, and I found a brand called "Friendship." And on the side of the plastic container, it said, "California style." And a light went on. That's why the local cottage cheese sucked (at least to me). I'd been spoiled by eating the real stuff back in the Golden State for the previous quarter century. I bought it. It was dry, flavorful, ricotta like. Just the way I remembered from LA. One more reason that Florida sux (at least southeast Florida), though at least I can buy the exotic import here.

So, question. Why do the locals like it runny, and do they like it that way up in New York and New Jersey (whence came their ancient ancestors)? Are there other varieties in (say) the Midwest, or Mountain states?


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Josh Reiter wrote:

Hmmm, never notice the regional connotations applied to cottage cheese.

Here in Texas it has a good deal of water content. Use cheese cloth (oddly appropriate) or several layers of paper towel to press/wick the water away.

Brock wrote:

Hmmm. Things like "runny" and "dry" are of course relative. Cottage cheese here in NJ is not Ricotta-like, however. I may have to stop by Whole Foods to see what kind of "styles" they have available.

ech wrote:

Gotta say, in Florida that's just the whey they like it.

memomachine wrote:


Frankly I don't eat cottage cheese. It never struck me as particularly worthy of eating but then again I eat kimchee so take that in consideration.

David wrote:

I bet it's a result of making it low-fat. When I've eaten cottage cheese done the old fashioned style, like at Amana Colonies in Iowa, it's much more creamy than watery, which makes it really good. California was, I think, the first place that low fat became popular, so it makes sense that they were the first to realize that without the fat, the whey isn't nearly as good.

Josh Reiter wrote:

Actually, cottage cheese is the casein part of the milk protein. The yellowish liquid that collects at the bottom of the tub is the whey.

It is actually pretty easy to make on your own:

1 gal of skim milk heated to 120 F.
Remove from heat and pour 3/4 cup white vinegar into milk.
Stir for a couple of minutes and then cover and let site for 30 minutes.
Pour into colander lined with cheese cloth/clean towel.
After completely drained rinse with cool water.
Press cottage cheese into cloth to remove excess water.
Break up into bit size pieces.

The acids in the vinegar denature the milk proteins into their constituent parts - whey and casein. Essentially, when you make cottage cheese, you are doing on the stovetop what normally occurs in your stomach. Whey is a fast digesting protein, hence its watery consistency. Casein is a slow digesting protein because it curdles in the presence of acid.

The regional differences are the result of what type of milk is most readily available. Whether the cow is grass, grain, or corn feed greatly affects the protein ratios, fat content, and milk solids.

Edward Wright wrote:

"It seems that people who love cottage cheese are very interested in the texture as well as the taste. Some brands are creamy, others dry, a few downright lumpy. Companies have code words for the size of their curds and the texture of their product. California-style (Friendship, a New York dairy, uses this expression) refers to a drier cottage cheese, Vermont-style (as in Cabot Creamery) refers to a creamy mixture with defined curds."

Barbara Skolaut wrote:

I'm with memomachine (including the kimchee).

Rand Simberg wrote:

That's because you people have never had kimchi cottage cheese.

Jonathan wrote:

My understanding is that in NYC it used to be possible to get something called "pot cheese" that was dry with very large curds. I suspect that the current supermarket-style cottage cheese is an innovation, created and consumed by people who are not familiar with the old-style stuff.

If you like dry, try baker's cheese, which is like an extremely dry ricotta.

ken anthony wrote:

Cottage cheese and Triscuits! Ricotta for everything else.

Paul F. Dietz wrote:

Growing up in Maryland, I remember the cottage cheese as being of the dry variety.

(insert "no whey!" joke here)

memomachine wrote:


"That's because you people have never had kimchi cottage cheese."

Mark off #3 on the list of Signs of the Apocalypse!


Josh Reiter wrote:

I believe the size of the curd is affected by the ratio of acid vs. rennet used during the rendering process. If you made the recipe I listed you end up with a dry, fine crumb curd because it is purely acid based method. The more rennet enzyme that is used in place of acid the larger and fluffier the curds become.

Brock wrote:

Reporting back from Whole Foods. "California style" cottage cheese is a bit dryer than "NJ Standard", but not much. I've had "runny" cottage cheese in New Jersey, but it's certainly not the default (or the good stuff). One thing I noticed though is that there is no whey settled at the bottom of the California style cup, while NJ cheese does have a little whey at the bottom. Not too much though.

I think our cottage cheese is of high quality as long as you don't buy the cheap stuff.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on November 11, 2008 5:54 AM.

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