Author Topic: Raw cow milk cottage cheese made from clabber- Help! Soft curd texture  (Read 1894 times)

Offline laurensinthegarden

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This question goes out to all of you who  make cottage cheese from clabbered raw milk.  Often, I find the curd texture to be a bit softer than I'd like, which means that it's not as firm as commercially made cottage cheese, though the flavor is amazing. My procedure is as follows:

I use a splash of buttermilk to inoculate fresh cows milk in the stainless steel, sanitized pot in which it will be cooked.

Next, I cover it with a clean dishtowel and set it overnight in the food dehydrator set to 100 degrees.

In the morning voila, clabbered milk, ready to cut into curds.


After cutting, I let it sit for a little while and then gently heat to approx 115-120F to cook the curds.
 
With the next step I drain off most of the whey, replacing it with cold water or cold water and ice cubes to cool the curds.
 
Then I drain it,  add salt to taste and then drain it in a fine mesh basket for a few hours to overnight to get the right dryness to the cottage cheese.  i usually do add cream right before I serve the cheese to lengthen the time the cottage cheese stays fresh in the fridge.
 
The only problem that I encounter at times and not all the time, is that the curd can be quite soft and light.  It is has soft, distinct curds of excellent flavor, but I wish I could get a little more structure to the curds.  The cottage cheese flavor is really great, like the best store-purchased cottage cheese around, but if I could improve the texture to be about 30% more firm I would.  All of the old-timers that I've talked to who recall making cheese with clabber haven't been able to make any other suggestions that might improve the texture as this seems to be a traditional way around here of making cottage cheese when most families kept a dairy cow.  Would I need a dash of rennet?  If so, how much and would I add it in the beginning when I stir in the splash of buttermilk as I set the milk to clabber?  Any thoughts or ideas would be much appreciated, as the kids aren't to keen to eat stuff that isn't a close match to what I can purchase in the store.  Thanks in advance:) Laurensinthegarden


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Offline Calvin Gross

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Re: Raw cow milk cottage cheese made from clabber- Help! Soft curd texture
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 02:48:54 PM »
When I make cottage cheese I allow the curds to sit at about 115 as long as it takes the curds to firm up to what I like. I taste the curds and look for that nice little squeak that tells me when they are done.  I would avoid rennet in cottage cheese making as I think it tends to make the curds just too chewey.

Calvin

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Raw cow milk cottage cheese made from clabber- Help! Soft curd texture
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 02:58:00 PM »
When you use clabber, there is possible variability in the ratios of bacteria, that contribute to differences in water-retention properties. To remedy this, easiest way is to adjust the cook schedule and keep cooking until the curds are the moisture level that you like. You can try adding rennet if you want the ability to retain larger whole curd particles, as it makes the curd more resilient and less prone to shattering.

Another possible cause is varying fat levels, which you can remedy by skimming the cream.
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Offline laurensinthegarden

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Re: Raw cow milk cottage cheese made from clabber- Help! Soft curd texture
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 04:43:49 PM »
Thanks Calvin and Linuxboy!   I appreciate your suggestions.  I don't much want to use rennet for cottage cheese.   

Way back when I first obtain this lovely raw milk from grass-fed cows, most recipes I came across called for rennet which I did try a couple of times and was sadly disappointed with the results; rubbery, tasteless, boring.   The quest was on.

Back in November of last year Linuxboy I found a post of yours from months ago that inspired me to make a super clabber using the temp range you suggested to favor  l. cremoris.  It was the ultimate- perfectly flavored buttery-smelling delish clabber, that made the most amazing cottage cheese that sadly I was never quite able to repeat.

I forgot to mention that I do skim the cream from the milk before I get started, so the fat content is relatively stable.  What both of you said that intrigues me is controlling the cooking (time in this instance I presume?) to obtain a different quality curd.  I pay attention to the nuances in the qualities of the curd as I cook testing and trying as I go, but that said I have had the curds in for hours at times and have not discerned a difference in the density or hardness of the curd.  What am I missing?

As I am just barely past total beginner stage I certainly appreciate your assistance with this.  What variables in the cooking process will  change the density of the curd?   How do I control this?   I LOVE having this milk to try all this stuff with and it is wonderful to have the assistance and support of this forum.  Thank you.
Lauren

Offline linuxboy

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Re: Raw cow milk cottage cheese made from clabber- Help! Soft curd texture
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2012, 05:09:28 PM »
There are three factors that influence water level in lactic curd, assuming you're using a moderate culturing temp (75-85F): they are the temp at cook (final, as well as degree rise over time.. .the speed), and the agitation, and the curd size. If you are heating and holding at that temp, the curd tends to clump together and will not let go of its moisture. If you want to try for a drier curd, can try to cut to smaller size, agitate a bit more, raise temp, or some combination of the above.

I am so thrilled to read that there are other people using clabber and trying to maintain the heritage traditions. Hope that helps.
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Offline MrsKK

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Re: Raw cow milk cottage cheese made from clabber- Help! Soft curd texture
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 08:09:03 AM »
Good clabber is so awesome, isn't it?

I agree with Linux on the things you could do to get the intended results.  I would suggest just changing one thing at a time, though, so you get some indication of just what it was that caused the difference.  I, personally, would do more stirring.

Offline MaggieM

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Re: Raw cow milk cottage cheese made from clabber- Help! Soft curd texture
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 09:25:01 PM »
Hello - I'm not a present-day cheese maker but may have information helpful re making cottage without rennet by the clabber method. I grew up on a farm and ate nothing but this kind of cottage cheese for many years. I loved it so much that when I eventually came across 'store bought' cottage cheese I could barely tolerate it. I had to convince myself it was an entirely different food and then it seemed OK!  :D

My mother used the following process to make clabbered cottage cheese in Kansas.  I remember this as a warm weather process only: Fresh raw milk was skimmed very thoroughly.  The milk was poured into a standard oval shaped blue granite roasting pan and set on the screened back porch with the lid on to keep flies off. I can't remember how long it took (a day or two?) but eventually the milk clabbered. It was heated (to firm the curd and possibly to arrest bacterial action?) and then poured through a standard kitchen mesh strainer, and worked with a fork until the whey was effectively removed. This resulted in fairly dry, small curd, cottage cheese.

One reason I mention location is that I later lived and farmed in northern Canada. I used the above process.  Raw milk for drinking at the northern location was equally good as the Kansas milk but the cheese was not as delicious.  It had a bit of a 'sharp sourness' the Kansas cheese had not had.

I have no idea why the two were different but assumed the difference was due to a different wild bacteria that 'drove' the clabbering process.  I also explored making hard cheeses (with rennet) at my northern farm and the same 'sharp sourness' showed up in these.

Another explanation for flavor differences might be that normal air temperatures were different at the two locations.  Milk took longer to 'turn' in the northern location.  I don't know what difference humidity might have made but it was much more humid in Kansas.

I very much enjoyed experimenting with cheese making when I was farming; it's a delight for me to imagine a community carrying on the adventure! (I found cheeseforum because I heard a science discussion giving 'the fact' that rennet is required for cheese making and wanted back-up confirmation that rennet is not necessary!)  :D