1. Cottage cheese chunks are called curds, and you can usually get either “small curd” or “large curd” varieties at the supermarket.
2. About a billion pounds of cottage cheese are consumed annually in the US. That’s about 3 lbs. for every man woman and child!
3. Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese. No aging or ripening. This makes it cheap relatively to other cheeses.
4. Turning milk into cottage cheese requires two additional elements. First is a lactic starter to sour (acidify) the milk, similar to what’s used for yogurt. Second is an enzyme, typically rennet, that causes the milk to start coagulating.
5. At the right temperature and over the course of a day, the mixture becomes firm enough. It is then cut into small cubes that will become the curds. The cubes are rolled, partially drained, and rinsed to create the form that we’re familiar with.
6. 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.
7. You can make your own cottage cheese at home, but it’s a rather tasking and lengthy process requiring stringent temperature control.
8. 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!
9. 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 no very few low-sodium options. It just isn’t cottage cheese without all that salt.
What to do at the supermarket:
There are plenty of options to choose from, 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, watch out for the expiration date.