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Cottage Cheese

Overview

The first step in the creation of cottage cheese is pasteurization of the milk. Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese, consumed without aging and so milk used must be pasteurized to ensure the safety of the cheese. Once the cheesemilk is prepared, starter culture is added to generate lactic acid from lactose. Acidification occurs until the pH is lowered to 4.6, which causes precipitation of the casein proteins. A very small amount of rennet is included with the cheesemilk and it functions to make the curd firmer and promote whey expulsion. After coagulation, the curd is cut and cooked at 50-55C for approximately 1.5 hours. During this time whey is expelled from the curd and the texture of the curd becomes firmer. The whey is then drained off and the curd is washed repeatedly with chlorinated water. The washings function to remove lactose and prevent further acidification of the curd. Finally, the curds are salted and typically mixed with a cream dressing. Traditionally, this dressing has been formulated to produce a product containing 4% milkfat, but lower fat versions are also available formulated to 1 or 2% fat. Cottage cheese can also be found without the dressing, a form referred to as dry curd cottage cheese. 

Cottage cheese is used as an ingredient to add sensory appeal, mild flavour, and nutritional value to foods. Cottage cheese is well recognized as being a healthy food, a fact that adds value to its use. A 125 gram serving of cottage cheese (creamed, lowfat or dry curd) provides an excellent source of vitamin B12 and a source of calcium, phosphorous, zinc, folate, riboflavin and vitamin B6.

Cottage cheese is a very popular product commonly consumed on its own but also suitable for use in other products. Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese consisting of individual, moist curds of variable size, possessing a mild flavour and an off white colour. Cottage cheese has a fairly short shelf life due to its relatively high moisture content.


Composition
 

The maximum allowable moisture content for cottage cheese according to Canadian law is 80%. Stabilizing agents (such as polysaccharide gums) can be added to the cottage cheese at levels up to 0.5% to help hold moisture. Creamed cottage cheese may contain additional emulsifying, gelling, stabilizing and thickening agents. Acid precipitated cheeses, like cottage cheese, contain lower levels of calcium than rennet coagulated cheeses such as cheddar.

  • Typical compositions for cottage cheese are as follows:

Variety

Moisture

 Protein 

  Fat        

Carbohydrate

 Ash  

Creamed (4% milkfat)

 79%

  12.5%

 4.5%

2.5%

 1.5%

Lowfat (2% milkfat)

79%

 14%

 2%

3.5%

 1.5%

Lowfat (1% milkfat)

80%

12.5%

1%

2.5%

1.5%

Dry curd

80%

17%

0.5%

2%

0.5%


  • Lipid profile (g/100g of cheese):

Variety

Saturated fatty acids

 Monounsaturated fatty acids

 Polyunsaturated fatty acids      

Cholesterol

Creamed(4% milkfat)

2.9

 1.3

 0.14

0.015

Lowfat (2% milkfat)

1.2

 0.55

 0.06

0.008

Lowfat (1% milkfat)

 

0.65

0.29

0.03

0.004

Dry Curd

0.27

0.11

0.02

0.007


  • Vitamin and Mineral content (mg/100 g):
Vitamins and
Minerals
Creamed (4%)

Low fat 
     (2%)    

  Low fat
(1%)
Dry Curd
Sodium

 405

 406

 406

 13

Potassium

 84

 96

 86

 32

Calcium

 60

 69

 61

 32

Phosphorus

 132

 151

 134

 104

Magnesium

 5

6

 5

 4

Zinc

 0.37

 0.42

 0.38

 0.47

Iron

 0.14

 0.16

 0.14

 0.23

Copper

 0.028

 0.028

 0.028

 0.028

Manganese

 0.003

 0.003

 0.003

 0.003

Selenium

 0.009

 0.0102

 0.009

 0.0108

Vitamin A

 0.048

 0.020

 0.011

 0.008

Thiamin

 0.021

 0.024

 0.021

 0.025

Riboflavin

 0.163

 0.185

 0.165

 0.142

Niacin

 0.126

 0.144

 0.128

 0.155

Vitamin B6

 0.067

 0.076

 0.068

 0.082

Folate

 0.012

 0.013

 0.012

 0.015

Vitamin B12

 0.00062

 0.00071

 0.00063

 0.00083

Pantothenic Acid

 0.213

 0.242

 0.215

 0.163

Vitamin C

 0

 0

 0

 0

Vitamin E

 0.122

 0.056

 0.110

 0.110


Cheese is of high nutritional value due to its high concentration of proteins. Casein contains various levels of all the essential amino acids although it is relatively low in sulfur containing amino acids. As a result the protein quality of cheese is slightly less than that of milk, which retains the sulfur rich whey proteins.

In terms of microbiological standards, cottage cheese must contain fewer than 10 coliforms per gram.


Application Based on End Use

The flavour and texture of cottage cheese make it an excellent compliment for fruits, vegetables, nuts and seafood.

  • Cottage cheese can be used as part of a salad. The texture of the cheese adds variety to the salad while the mild flavour of the cheese compliments the other flavours, particularly of fruits. The healthful image of cottage cheese also makes it a natural for use in salads.
  • Cottage cheese can be used as a topping for breakfast items such as pancakes, muffins or toast. The texture, moistness and flavour of the cottage cheese make it suitable for this application.
  • Cottage cheese can be used as the filling in a variety of pasta dishes. The cheese provides a soft, pleasant texture and the mild flavour of the cheese compliments the flavour of the pasta sauce. The light colour of the cottage cheese as a pasta filling or as a layer in lasagna is an attractive contrast to dark pasta sauces.
  • Cottage cheese can be incorporated into products such as bread, buns, cookies and pancakes to provide moistness. The cheese will also contribute to the browning of the products.
  • Cottage cheese can be pureed and blended in dips to provide moistness and viscosity without much fat.
  • Cottage cheese can be pureed and blended into cream sauces to provide viscosity.
  • Cottage cheese can be sweetened and used as part of the filling in desserts such as cheese pie. The curds can be intact or ground up to provide different textures.
  • Cottage cheese can be incorporated into products such as cheesecakes to provide a lighter texture.
 
Functional Properties
  • Cottage cheese has a mild, milky flavour that compliments many other ingredients.
  • Cottage cheese has a relatively light, soft texture. This texture is good on its own, for example as a pasta filling, or cottage cheese can be used in place of other cheeses to give a lighter texture, for example as a partial replacement for cream cheese in cheesecake.
  • Cottage cheese has a high moisture content. Incorporating cottage cheese into baked goods will help keep the product moist.
  • Pureed cottage cheese can be used to add viscosity to a variety of products.


For more information on cheese, please visit the University of Guelph’s Dairy Science and Technology Web site.

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