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What Is Dry Curd Cottage Cheese?

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  • Written By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2014
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Dry curd cottage cheese is a dairy product that contains little more than raw cheese curds. Contrary to the name, these curds are almost always moist. They are called “dry” primarily because they lack the liquid base common to most standard cottage cheeses. Cheese makers drain dry curd cottage cheese to isolate the solids, leaving the whey and any milk run-off as waste. The curds are common in baking, and have a mild flavor that can complement a variety of salad and pasta dishes.

Making dry curd cottage cheese is relatively simple. In most cases, the process starts as does any cheese-making endeavor. Cooks must heat milk to nearly boiling, then add an acid, often in the form of the enzyme rennet, which causes the milk solids to separate from the whey. These solids will float to the top of the milk, where they can easily be skimmed off and drained. Cheese makers can control the density and thickness of these solids by manipulating the proportion of acid to milk, as well as selecting milk of differing fat levels.

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When making cottage cheese according to more traditional recipes, the solids recovered from the milk are broken up into still smaller pieces, then cooked on their own over low heat. The heat breaks down many of the curds’ core compounds, which leads to the continued production of a thickened, enriched whey. The manufacturing process for the dry version skips this second cooking, leaving the solids as they are on first formation.

Most of the time, the curds are strained and pressed through a cloth or metal sieve until all excess moisture has been removed. The curds are then set aside, and either packaged for sale or refrigerated for later home use. Dry curd cottage cheese is commonly salted, and herbs and other flavors can be added as well. Different types of cheese curds are usually characterized either by their flavor or their richness.

In some markets, dry curds are also called “baker’s cheese” or “farmer’s cheese.” This is likely owing to the simple and relatively low-tech process required for their production. Many home cooks make dry curd cottage cheese, and most recipes are forgiving of beginners’ mistakes. The alternative names are also sometimes used by commercial manufacturers to conjure images of rustic, old-fashioned cheese making.

Dry curd cottage cheese is something of an anomaly where dairy foods are concerned, as it contains almost no lactose. Lactose is a sugar compound found in nearly all milk products. People who suffer from extreme lactose intolerance must generally avoid dry curd cottage cheese, but people with only mild lactose sensitivities can usually still enjoy it.

The curds tend to be somewhat chewy in texture and, unless seasoned, do not often carry much of a distinctive flavor. This makes them particularly good choices for baking. Dry curds generally have a high heat threshold, and tend to melt very evenly. Cooking with cottage cheese curds is a good way to add pockets of creaminess or unique texture to a variety of dishes, from breads and other baked goods to meat preparations. The curds also slice and crumble well, making them unique garnishes for a wide range of meals.

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turquoise
Post 3

I was looking for dry curd cottage cheese a few weeks ago, but couldn't find it anywhere. Then, I discovered that Indian paneer cheese is basically the same thing as dry curd cottage cheese. I found paneer at the Asian grocery and it worked perfectly well in my recipe.

discographer
Post 2

@fBoyle-- Did you try to eat it plain? You won't enjoy it that way. Dry curd cheese is best when used in dishes or seasoned heavily with herbs, spices and some salt. It's not meant to be eaten plain as regular cottage cheese is.

I also think that you must have boiled the milk too much after the milk solids separated. If you don't remove the solids right after separation, they harden and take on that rubbery texture. So remove them quickly and strain out all the liquid.

I like to form my dry curd cottage cheese into a ball after straining. I keep it under something heavy for about half an hour so that it solidifies. I can then slice it or cut it into cubes to use in dishes like pasta or casserole. If I'm going to eat it on salads or in sandwiches, I add herbs and spices like oregano and red chili pepper, cayenne or black sesame seeds. Make sure to add salt too.

fBoyle
Post 1

I made dry curd cottage cheese yesterday. I found the recipe in a recipe book and I was tempted by how easy it is. I followed all the directions and it worked, but unfortunately, I didn't like it as much as I had expected.

Dry curd cottage cheese is surprisingly hard and chewy and reminds me of rubber. Moreover, it doesn't taste like anything at all. I'm not sure how some people eat this on a regular basis.

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