What is Cottage Cheese?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Cottage cheese is a loosely packed cow's milk cheese distinguished by its slightly bland taste and the whey that is left in with the cheese curds. The cheese is designed to be eaten fresh and is highly perishable. There are a number of uses for cottage cheese, ranging from a dish in and of itself to a substitute for ricotta in dishes like lasagna. Most grocers carry it, and it is also often available directly through dairies.

Cottage cheese can replace ricotta in a lasagna casserole.
Cottage cheese can replace ricotta in a lasagna casserole.

To make cottage cheese, cow's milk is curdled and then drained, but not pressed. Draining removes much of the whey in the cheese, but not all of it. Pressing would extract the remainder of the whey, turning it into a firmer cheese like pot cheese or farmer's cheese. Some producers also rinse the curds to reduce their acidity, so that they will taste less sour and tangy. The curds and whey are packaged together and sent to market; they should ideally be eaten within 10 days.

Skim milk can be used to create low fat cottage cheese.
Skim milk can be used to create low fat cottage cheese.

There are a number of variants on cottage cheese. Some producers use nonfat or skim milk to make nonfat or low fat cheese. Others add cream after it is made for a richer style. Some producers tend to make a drier version, while others keep it moist. The curds also range in style from small bits to large chunks, sometimes called “popcorn style.” In some cases, ingredients such as fruit or savory vegetables are added to make the cheese more flavorful.

Cottage cheese, among other whole dairy foods, can be high in LDL cholesterol.
Cottage cheese, among other whole dairy foods, can be high in LDL cholesterol.

Many consumers eat this type of cheese as a diet food, since it is low in fat and high in protein and calcium. It is often mixed with fruit such as pineapple or melon, or used with granola. Others snip chives over their cheese, or include it in recipes ranging from gelatine to stuffed manicotti. Weight lifters in particular try to integrate cottage cheese into their diets, since the high protein makes it a good muscle builder.

Granola is often eaten with cottage cheese.
Granola is often eaten with cottage cheese.

Some consumers dislike cottage cheese because of its very mild flavor. In some cases, producers have addressed this by leaving some acid in, making a tangier cheese or by flavoring it. Other consumers actively seek the cheese out because it is slightly bland, making it a great food for people who are sick or pregnant women looking for a neutral-tasting source of protein.

Cottage cheese may be popular with pregnant women because of its bland taste and high levels of protein.
Cottage cheese may be popular with pregnant women because of its bland taste and high levels of protein.
Cottage cheese is made from cow's milk.
Cottage cheese is made from cow's milk.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I like it in the morning over sliced bananas and in the afternoon with two heaping spoons of tuna fish. It sounds gross, but try it. It's good!


Most American cottage cheese is nasty. Most of it is full of cheap fillers, emulsifiers, thickening agents and who knows what else. I've hated cottage cheese all my life, the result of living all over America and being forced (by Mom) to sample lots of it. So lately I had some in Israel. My god it was good. This wasn't some organic/artisanal/gourmet/lah-dee-dah high-end brand. This was the ordinary stuff, one of two brands of local cottage cheese sold in every Israeli grocery store. They're both wonderful. One is larger curd, one is smaller curd. The ingredient list doesn't have anything in it that you need a chemistry degree to understand. It's utterly wholesome.

I would suggest that, if you are American and hate cottage cheese, you give it another try in any other country you visit. You may be pleasantly surprised. Real cottage cheese is delicious.


I love a big dollop of cottage cheese on a bowl of chili. It sounds a little odd, I realize, but it tastes great. I also like it on a baked potato instead of sour cream. Again, sounds odd, tastes good!


I mix low fat cottage cheese with unsalted black beans to give me protein and lower my cholesterol.


Great if you don't have teeth. Eat it before you eat spicy foods. Eat it to build muscle and strong bones. Superior source of calcium and vitamin d. Great fast snack with a piece of fruit.


Eat with a spoon of strawberry jam or maple syrup. It's delicious. From CA


I never enjoyed cottage cheese until I tried it with a little Indian masala spice sprinkled on and stirred in. Makes it very yummy!

Now I love it as a snack at work. I put it in a 1 cup glass Anchor container. It's perfect to keep satisfied in between meals to stay away from bad snacks, and it helps me get more dairy and lean protein in my diet. Yay!


Like many others here, I am eating it right now. My favorite is with mandarin oranges with all of its juice. I think of cottage cheese as the perfect food, healthy and delicious. It can be used in so many ways. I have eaten it daily for most of my life. I am 50 years old.


I love cottage cheese! I especially love it with mandarin oranges. Yum. Eating some now!


I like it with honey!


I love jello and cottage cheese.


Cottage cheese is a great tool for bodybuilders. high protein and low calories -- that's what we look for and really what any athletic person should look for. None of those muscles are going to give you a better physique if they're covered in fried chicken and tater chips.


I like my cottage cheese with pineapple or cherry tomatoes with lemon pepper. Yum!


When you try out a food, get the best money can buy. Otherwise it doesn't tell you a thing. I've found more variation in cottage cheeses than in anything else I've tried from tasteless through awful to marvelous. Stay away from store brands and bargain brands and you're more likely to like it.


When I was a kid my father would give us children cottage cheese with a little salt and pepper and plain lays chips to scoop it up with as a snack.

I am in my 30's now and still eat the stuff weekly. It goes great on salads.


I have become a big user of the Daisy Brand cottage cheese. I like the 4 percent best, but I have eaten their 2 percent and think it is good as well. The stuff is all natural and lasts for weeks in my refrigerator without preservatives. I used to eat the Breakstone cottage cheese, but have stopped.


I like to use cottage cheese as a filling for crepes. A little bit of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon adds a great touch.


Wow it's gross.


Well as for me i like cottage cheese with fruits. i am here eating it right now.


I always thought it was gross. the other day, i said to myself, well, i don't dislike any other kind of cheese, maybe i will actually like it? and I do - love love it, could eat a bucket of it. unfortunately yes, it's good for you but even low fat is not that low in calories and i could eat a cup at a time. 1/4 cup just doesn't satisfy!


I like cottage cheese instead of sour cream on baked potatoes, and also as a chili topping. Sounds odd, tastes great!


this is my first time trying cottage cheese. i don't know if i will like it or not. other people say it's great. hope i like it, being that it's suppose to be so good for the body and all. Wish me luck. --Ellen in Virgina


I started eating cottage cheese 11 years ago when i

was pregnant and loved it and now i cannot stop eating it. I am 43 with four kids and my cottage cheese keeps me fit. It's awesome.


Dean's formerly made dry cottage cheese which I used in a cheese loaf or ate with fruit and mayonnaise. i can no longer find it anywhere. I always took cheese loaf to family reunions and my relatives always ask where it is! I have introduced many friends to dry Cottage cheese and they ask me where do you find it?


Anything which is that gross has to be good for me. Among my favorite foods, it and tofu don't even make the list.


cottage cheese tastes fantastic. eat it as yogurt chat, sprinkle roasted geera, paprika powder, chat masala. eat it plain with tacos or crackers.


I *hate* cottage cheese. I have been looking for a substitute because the diet I am on uses it a lot by itself. Cannot find any suggestions for something different. Most people just doctor it up with fruit or something. Curses!


Me, I love it! Goes with everything!


Cottage cheese mixed with flax oil cures cancer.

Quarter cup cottage cheese mixed with table spoon of flax oil on a daily basis. The cottage cheese activates something in the flax oil which fights cancer cells and also builds up the immune system. --No1 Muppet


Is cottage cheese the same as kwark in holland?

It can cure cancer mixed with something else, i forgot. Sorry! Check the web for yourself.


I'm curious to find info regarding the development of cottage cheese. Was it an error or intentional?


I mix it with my favorite yogurt.


I like my cottage cheeze with blueberries, chopped almond and sprinkler of cinnamon.

Jasmine from Dallas Tx


Is American cottage cheese different to that available in Britain and Holland? I've tried American recipes that incorporate cottage cheese into cooked dishes, but however carefully I follow instructions, they always come out a watery disaster.


I have never tried cottage cheese for the past 27 years, well now I'm almost 28. I usually see it time from time in buffet, I've tried it once and it tasteless I almost never want to taste it again. But when I tried it with the right ingredients it just taste fantastic. I prefer mine with cottage cheese layer on top of dry cranberry mixed with sunflower seeds for two days. Until the bottom is moisturized and it's ready to eat. I definitely want to try fruit topped with granola and honey.


Nonfat cottage cheese tastes delicious by itself. I never add anything to it.


I love cottage cheese. It goes with almost anything, chips, fruit, it can be used in baking or as a substitute for dishes. My sister likes it with just salt and pepper. I prefer mine with fruit topped with granola and honey. Who knew cheese could be this good.... :)


I have never liked cottage cheese - the texture, the taste, all of it seems pretty gross to me. But I know it's healthy and a lot of my friends with small children are feeding it to their kids, who seem to like it. Maybe once you are hooked on it, you like it for the rest of your life, I'm not sure.

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