Homemade Cottage Cheese

Can I be a little bit honest here? I'm not quite sure I know what the difference is between ricotta and cottage cheese. I got this recipe from a blog I used to read and it claimed to be ricotta cheese, but it tastes like cottage cheese to me, so I'll just go with that.
To make homemade cottage/ricotta cheese is quite easy and you end up with a cheese that tastes, in my expert opinion, exactly like store bought cottage cheese. I used it to make the lasagna I made for an event I catered and attended today and it was an absolute hit!

Homemade Cottage Cheese


1. Pour milk into a large pot and heat until nearly boiling.

2. Add vinegar to the milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the curds start separating from the whey. The way to do this is to add the vinegar until you start seeing whitish clumps in yellowish liquid. At first, you'll just be seeing tinier clumps in small sections of the milk, but add enough vinegar until all the milk has separated into curds and whey. For my 1.5 liters of milk (less than half a gallon), I added approximately 8 tablespoons of vinegar to achieve the desired affect. Give the milk a quick mix with a spoon, but leave it alone afterward.

Milk, after adding a tablespoon or two of vinegar.
After adding all the vinegar to the milk.
3. Heat the milk on a low heat for 15 minutes, giving the milk a chance to fully separate into curds and whey. Do not mix.
After heating for 15 minutes. I know, doesn't look so different than the last picture,
but I trust this is an important step nonetheless.
4. Place a colander in a large bowl and line it with a cheesecloth.

5. Very carefully pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth. You don't want to break up the curds accidentally. Let the whey drain out of the curds for at least 20 minutes. If the bowl isn't deep enough, you may want to pour the whey into another container so that the whey doesn't reach the level of the curds.

Curds while straining.
Curds after straining
6. What will be left in the bowl will be whey and vinegar. Put this aside, as it is full of nutrition and can be used in recipes I plan on sharing in the future.

7. Fold the sides of the cheesecloth down to fold over the curds.

8. Run water over the folded cheesecloth. You want to rinse out any vinegar that might be remaining.

9. Let strain a little longer to get out all the water.

10. Now you can open up your cheesecloth and take the curds out and put them into a bowl. Break up the curds somewhat and mix in salt to taste. At this point, the website I had read said you'll have ricotta cheese. I take it one step further and add enough milk to get the texture to be similar to that of cottage cheese.

After running water over the strained curds, before being broken up and adding salt.
Broken up curds with salt, minus the milk
The finished cottage cheese

11. Enjoy your cottage cheese. If things worked out, you should end up with small curd cottage cheese that tastes exactly like the store bought stuff.

Note: I used 3% non raw milk for this. I can't vouch that it will work with other types of milk, but it is worth a try.
The whey you end up with is different than the whey you end up with after making things with raw milk or whey from yogurt or kefir. This whey is lacking the probiotics that other wheys have, so it most likely won't work in recipes that require those probiotics, like pickles, but I could be wrong.

Have you ever made cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, or any other cheese for that matter? How did you make it? Do you find the results taste similar to that of store bought?
Most importantly, what do you do with your whey?
Oh, and lastly, what exactly is the difference between cottage cheese and ricotta cheese? Google was no help in that!

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Hi, l have always made cotage cheese at home. I use 2 tablespoon vinegar for 1 liter milk and it works fine.
    Whey is used in making soups, cok rice or for kneading dough for making roties.

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