Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Making cottage cheese
I’ve been counting my blessings; no heavy coats, high boots, mufflers or warm gloves. But since I haven’t shoveled much snow, those extra pounds I accumulated during the holiday weren’t worked off.
I hope spring isn’t that far away and I’ll be getting outside for so many projects to help shed the pounds. But, after stepping on the scales at home I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands. I needed to buy a supply of “lite”cottage cheese. It can be fixed in so many delicious ways. I make myself believe when I’m on a diet that all of the diet foods are healthy and I should enjoy them.
When I picked up the cottage cheese I marveled at the cost ....it hadn’t gone up any more since my last diet. Depending on where you purchase it, it can range from $3.24 down to $2.19 which isn’t bad, but at one time it was one of the least expensive items in the food case and our family devoured many pounds of it.
I couldn’t help but remark to the family that with a little effort we could save by making our own. I got quite a reaction, and, it wasn’t pleasant.
I explained that the earthen crock pot that Grandma used was still around and I well remember her making it. Our milk came from my uncle’s farm and it wasn’t pasteurized.
Stores didn’t have the neat little 1-pound containers of small curd, large curd, creamed, flavored or any cottage cheese at all. Only the city markets carried it.
I was always around when there was something unusual was being made. Grandma took soured fresh milk (cloppered, when the milk separates and thickens) and put it on the stove hearth or sometimes in the oven while it was still warm leaving the door open. She would turn it around and around (I never learned why; I was told I could watch as long as I didn’t ask too many questions).
She cut the curd into squares with a knife, stirring gently until it was warm as your finger could bear and the whey showed all around the curd. She would pour all of this into a coarse cloth bag (one that sugar or salt would have come in) and hung it atop a pan to drain in a cool place overnight.
In the morning she would turn the cheese out of the bag, into a bowl and season with salt, sweet cream, and a little pepper. She would use her potato masher and make it to the correct consistency. The mixture was put into an earthen crock and kept in the icebox (or on the cellar bottom before she had an icebox).
It was a simple enough procedure, but we couldn’t make it today pasteurized added-to and taken from milk. Fresh milk soured quickly when it came straight from the cow at the farm and that is what is necessary for good cheese. However, have you noticed that unpasteurized milk is now available? There is a farm in Cazenovia that now has a store on the premises licensed by the state Health Department that sells all kinds of dairy products from their own cows’ milk, and we are told business is very good.