People have reimagined how cottage cheese can be used. Always a celebrated food, now it’s being blended into its creamy form and standing as the core ingredient to transform other known foods. Popular examples include cottage cheese bagels, cottage cheese pancakes, cottage cheese cookie dough and cottage cheese ice cream.
Kosherization of soft cheeses, like cottage cheese, differs from that of hard cheeses. There are many OU Kosher brands in the cottage cheese arena, Breakstone’s being one option. Cottage cheese is full of probiotics and high in protein.
The Reinvention of Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a staple food known for its versality. As Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Head of Dairy at the OU, notes, “Cottage cheese is unique in that it is probably the most authentic acid-set cheese that enjoys continued international and wild popularity. Its texture and taste retain the same old-fashioned character of the product in pre-industrial times, and modern mass-production technology has not jeopardized the timeless and authentic qualities of this ageless and classic fermented dairy product.”
Recently, Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace interviewed Julia Munslow, a Wall Street Journal senior platform editor, who wrote an article exploring the current trending nature of cottage cheese. In discussing its recent explosion, Munslow noted that “The #cottagecheese [hashtag] has more than 300 million views on TikTok alone.”
She explained that the younger age group is discovering this food that already has a following from the older subgroup. And she notes how it’s being used creatively: “It’s [now] cottage cheese in ice cream, cottage cheese in breads, and cakes…” and it’s being blended into “pasta sauce, pancakes, cookies, or even using it to make bread.”
Making foods with cottage cheese is simple. For instance, to make cottage cheese ice cream, you just blend cottage cheese and honey together and then freeze it for a few hours. There are a myriad of food items that are now being transformed by this new trend.
In examining kashrut aspects of cottage cheese, it’s important to understand the basic difference in how soft cheese, like cottage cheese, is made and hard cheeses. For cottage cheese, starter cultures are added to the milk to ferment. This produces lactic acid that turns the milk into whey and curds. The curd is separated, then mixed with other additives that results in cottage cheese. From a kashrut standpoint, in this type of production process, generally, as long as the equipment and additives are deemed compliant, certification can be given.
To make hard cheese, however, there is an added complication in that an animal-based enzyme, rennet, can possibly be used. Though often synthetic rennet is used, there is still a need for continual on-site supervision.
Breakstone’s cottage cheese is one option to use in trialing this new trend. It has different fat percentages and solid taste. This brand dates back to 1882, with the first store opening up on the Lower East Side.
Fermentation is used in the making of many foods, cottage cheese being one of them. In the making of cottage cheese, bacteria-based cultures create lactic acid. Bacteria contain probiotics, that help sustain the gut and bolster brain function.
Cottage cheese is also rich in protein. Protein contains essential amino acids that help cell growth and fortify body mass.
There has been a strong resurgence of cottage cheese. Not only is it being enjoyed for its inherent taste and texture, but it’s now also being blended and used as a core ingredient to create never-before-imagined dishes. Cottage cheese ice cream is no longer beyond reach. Filled with probiotics and protein rich, this ingredient is perfect to experiment with for new creations.
Recipe for Cottage Cheese Rugelach with Walnuts, by Eileen Goltz, Courtesy of OU Kosher:
⅔ cup small-curd cottage cheese
⅔ cup plus 3 Tablespoons stick margarine, room temperature
1⅓ cups all purpose flour
½ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the cottage cheese and 2/3 cup margarine and mix until combine. Add in the flour and knead until dough is smooth, about 1 minute. Do not over mix.
Divide the dough into 2 balls. Flatten the balls into disks. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and freeze until the dough is firm enough to roll, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor combine the brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, vanilla and 3 Tablespoons margarine. Process until the mixture a smooth paste forms.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 dough disc to 10-inch circle. Spread half of brown sugar mixture evenly over the disc. Cut the disc into 16 wedges.
Starting at the curved edge and rolling toward the point, roll up the wedges. Bend ends in, forming crescents. Place on ungreased baking sheet (you can use parchment paper) point side down. Repeat rolling, filling and shaping with remaining dough disk.
In a small bowl combine the egg and milk and beat to blend. Brush the milk glaze over the crescents.
Bake until cooked through and light brown, about 25 minutes making sure to reverse the baking sheets after 10 minutes, front to back and top to bottom, to ensure even browning.
Transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool immediately.
The rugelach can be made ahead and stored in airtight containers at room temperature or frozen for several weeks.