In this article, we’ll be talking about dry curd cottage cheese, its health benefits, and how to make it at home.
What is dry curd cottage cheese?
This versatile dairy product goes by many names. You might not have come across “dry curd cottage cheese” in your local supermarket or at your grocer. But you might have seen it called by other names: farmer cheese, baker cheese, or if you’re feeling a bit fancy, fromage blanc.
This cheese is described as buttery, with just a hint of tang. (That tanginess is a hallmark of most soft cheeses.) Overall, it has a mild taste. This cheese is somewhat moist, as are a lot of soft cheeses, but is still dry enough to slice or crumble. You can spread it, too, if that takes your fancy. Dry curd cottage cheese goes great on toast or crackers. But we’ll be talking about serving suggestions later.
If we’re getting technical here, this soft cheese is made from milk that is cultured, which curdles it, and then pressed to separate the liquid whey. What you’re left with are the solid curds, which go on to enjoy their new life as delicious dry curd cottage cheese. It’s essentially cottage cheese that has been pressed to remove most of the moisture.
You might come across this delectable dairy product hung in cheesecloth or pressed to make a solid block that’s still crumbly.
Also, fun fact: different countries and cultures have evolved their own versions of dry curd cottage cheese: Americans like theirs salted, while the Mexican variant queso fresco is a bit spongy; on the other side of the globe, Indians make chenna that’s almost like dry cottage cheese. It seems like everyone wants a piece of this cheese!
Now that you know what dry curd cottage cheese is, let’s talk about its nutrition and health aspects.
An ounce of this crumbly cheese—about two tablespoons—would net you the following: (1)
- Calories: 50.1
- Calories from fat: 40.5
- Total fat: 4.5g
- Sodium: 10.1mg (1% DV)
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Protein: 3g
- Calcium: 80.1mg (9% DV)
- Iron: 0mg
(The percentages daily value (DV) are calculated based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.)
Health benefits of dry curd cottage cheese.
Not only does this soft cheese taste great, but it’s also great for your health, too! Here are some of the benefits of dry curd cottage cheese that might sway you to add it to your cheese platter.
1. Fewer calories
A tangy tablespoon of the stuff has half the calories and less than a third the fat of other kinds of cream cheese (2). Depending on the brand you go for, you can enjoy a low amount of sodium as well (pick the salt-free products if you like).
So are you looking to shave off some pounds? With dry curd cottage cheese, you can do just that while enjoying a great tasting (and guilt-free!) snack.
2. Wholesome nutrition profile
While dry curd cottage cheese goes easy on the calories, research has shown that its nutrition profile is quite well-rounded (3).
When added to the diet of a youngster, it can be a pillar component and an important source of valuable milk protein, milk fat, and vitamin B2, among other necessary nutrients. Even for grownups, dry curd cottage cheese can be a source of calcium and phosphate, necessary for the development of the skeletal and muscular systems.
Add to this bevy of nutrients healthy amounts of vitamins A, E, P, B2, B6, B12; folic and nicotinic acid; and macro-and micro-elements like iron, sodium, magnesium, and zinc. And last but definitely not least— like many other fermented milk products, our chosen cheese contains probiotic cultures that have a whole bunch of healthy effects on your body.
So we can safely say that, yes, dry curd cottage cheese is light on the calories. But it can easily hold its own when it comes to nutrition.
3. High in calcium
There are many reasons why dry curd cottage cheese stands out in the world of soft cheeses. For starters, the taste. The texture. The nutrition. And talking about nutrients: one, in particular, makes this cheese extra special: our titular cheese has a high amount of calcium.
As you’ve probably heard throughout your childhood, your body needs calcium to keep your bones and teeth. Calcium also keeps your heart, muscles, and nerves in working order.
Some studies suggest even greater benefits. One 2007 study demonstrated that calcium, when paired with vitamin D, may work to prevent cancer and diabetes (4, 5). Just keep in mind that these studies are not definitive, and future research may sway these opinions.
Our point is, calcium does good things for you. But a lot of the food that contains calcium isn’t necessarily light on the carbs. If you want a guilt-free snack to make sure you’re hitting that calcium count, why not try dry curd cottage cheese?
4. Low in lactose—great for lactose intolerance
What does 65% percent of the entire human population have in common? Sadly, it’s lactose intolerance. This condition makes your body unable to (or at least very poor at) digesting lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and most dairy products. Yes, that includes cheese, too.
But the lactose intolerant people of the world need not go their entire adult lives without tasting cheese. There are multiple varieties of soft cheeses that can be eaten without triggering lactose intolerant symptoms: brie, camembert, muenster, and of course, dry curd cottage cheese.
Dry curd cottage cheese is 99% lactose-free (3). This miraculous trait is because of its unique preparation process, which drains out the liquid whey and almost all the lactose along with it. Remember how we said that this type of cheese is pressed to remove moisture? There goes even more of the pesky lactose. What you’re left with is a non-bloating, non-gas-inducing dairy treat.
So if you’re lactose intolerant and constantly worry about whether to try out just a little bit of cheese, drop all your qualms and treat yourself to some dry curd cottage cheese.
How to make dry curd cottage cheese at home?
Dry curd cottage cheese used to be super popular at supermarkets. But sadly, these places are stocking it less and less. So if you plan to enjoy dry curd cottage cheese well for years to come, here’s how to make it at home.
- Whole milk or raw milk with the cream removed: 1 gallon
- Cultured buttermilk: ½ cup
You’ll also need to have on hand cheesecloth, a colander, a 6- to 8-quart non-aluminum pan to heat the milk, and a large pot that’s big enough to set the other pan in.
- In the pan, heat the milk to about 25°C (roughly 75°F). Remove from the heat afterward.
- Stir in the cultured buttermilk. Cover the pan and keep it at 25°C (roughly 75°F) for 24 hours.
- By now the milk in the pan will have settled into a thick custard-like consistency. There may be a layer of whey on top. Cut the curd into ½ inch cubes, slicing in perpendicular lines. Your cut lines might seem to disappear, but this is normal. Let is sit for 5 minutes.
- Heat water in the large pot to about 50°C (120°F).
- Place the pan of curds in the larger pot so that the water level surrounding the pan reaches the level of the curds inside.
- Gently stir the curds for 30 seconds every 5 minutes, and let the temperature of the curds rise. The gentle stirring will keep the curds from clumping together.
- When the curds reach about 38°C (100°F), increase the heat beneath the pot until the curds reach 50°C (120°F). Keep the curds at this temperature for 25-30 minutes. Stir more vigorously every 5 minutes.
- Most of the curds will be firm now. Squeeze a few of the curds to see if they’re still soft in the center. If it’s a little soft, that’s fine; if it’s runny, continue to hold at 50°C (120°F) checking the firmness every 5 minutes.
- Line the colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth and set it over a container to catch the whey. Carefully pour your curds into the colander and let it drain for 5 minutes. You can save the whey for other uses if you want.
- Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and rinse the curds under a stream of very cold water, or dip the curds in a bowl of cold water. Rinse until the water runs clear. Let the curds hang inside the cheesecloth to finish draining for 15 minutes up to an hour.
- Place the curds in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, if you want. You now have dry curd cottage cheese ready to use in any recipe!
This recipe, in these proportions, should leave you about 1 ½ pounds of dry curds.
You can safely refrigerate and use the cheese for up to a week (keep it in the humid drawer of your fridge. If you need to keep it for longer, just wrap it tightly and freeze. But remember—never wrap any soft cheese in plastic.
Whether you’re looking for a guilt-free snack or the next big secret ingredient in your recipes, dry curd cottage cheese should hit the spot. The low-calorie count and the wholesome nutrition profile should cover all your health-oriented bases. Even lactose-intolerant people can have a bite!
Keen to test your cheese-making skills? Let us know in the comments how your cheesy adventure turns out.