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Cottage Cheese Curds

-Fooducate

Ever wonder what those chunks in cottage cheese are? They are called curds, and in this post we’ll tell you all about them.

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese. There is no aging or ripening. This makes it cheap compared to other cheeses.

Turning milk into cottage cheese requires two additional ingredients:

  • a lactic starter to sour (acidify) the milk, similar to what’s used for yogurt
  • an enzyme, typically rennet, that causes the milk to start coagulating.

At the right temperature, and over the course of a day, the above mixture becomes firm enough. It is then cut into small cubes that are rolled, partially drained, and rinsed to create the little white curds. You can usually get either “small curd” or “large curd” varieties of cottage cheese at the supermarket.

In the next step, cream and salt are added to create the cottage cheese texture we’re so familiar with. Most manufacturers also add some sort of gelling ingredients such as locust bean gum or carrageenan to firm up the final result.

You can make your own cottage cheese at home, but it’s a rather tasking and lengthy process requiring stringent temperature control.

Cottage cheese enjoys certain health halo, especially the low fat versions. A half cup serving is less than 100 calories and has only 2.5 grams of fat (1.5 are saturated). It’s a great source of protein with 13 grams!

The biggest problem with cottage cheese, though, is its high sodium level – between 400-500 mg per serving. That’s close to 20% of the daily value! Unfortunately, there are very few low-sodium options. It just isn’t cottage cheese without all that salt.

About a billion pounds of cottage cheese are consumed annually in the US. That’s about 3 lbs. for every man woman and child!  There are many options to choose from at the supermarket, including cottage cheese mixed with various fruits. We suggest sticking with the plain, low-fat containers. Large tubs may be effective for big families, but since this is a fresh cheese, beware of the expiration date.

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