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All about cottage cheese

This might have been the very first cheese made in America

When Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey, she was actually eating cottage cheese. Miss Muffet was an early trendsetter because it’s still a popular food item today.

Jennifer Giambroni is the director of communications for the California Milk Advisory Board. She says by the mid-18-hundreds, the term “cottage cheese” was a part of American vocabulary.

"And it was for this form of simple cheese that we were making at home, kind of cooking down milk and cream. The interesting thing is, they think that this was really the first cheese made in America, which makes sense," she says. "It’s a fresh cheese that you make at home very easily. You don’t have to age it or anything like that, so it would be something that people ate on a regular basis."

Giambroni says they did a survey of Americans to find out where they thought the name “cottage cheese” came from. One of the common misnomers was that it came from a city named “Cottage” in England, but it really just refers to the homes that the immigrants lived in when they came to America. They called them “cottages”.

You can still make cottage cheese at home, but most of what we consume today is made commercially.

"It’s made by adding acid to pasteurized milk," says Giambroni. "This causes the milk solids and the whey to separate. So, this could be either a bacterial culture, or kind of a food-grade acid like vinegar. And then after the curd is formed, it’s gently cut into pieces that allow additional whey to drain from the curds, and then the curds are further cooked and pressed to expel more of that whey. And then they’re rinsed, and salt is added."

Giambroni says on average, each American eats two-pounds of cottage cheese per year.

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