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In The Family
What is Cottage Cheese Exactly?

The lowdown on curds and whey.

This June, the New York Times asked the world, “Is America ready to love cottage cheese again?” Which struck some fans as odd, considering the Cabot dairy company alone makes over 5 million pounds every year, and you can find it in just about every supermarket. Still, as the Times reports, cottage cheese has started to get the small batch treatment in part thanks to millennial shoppers looking for ever more obscure forms of high-protein fermented dairy. So what is cottage cheese?

Like farmer cheese or queso blanco, cottage cheese is made from fresh curds that are cut into tiny nubs to release their whey. The watery whey is then drained away, but the curds aren’t pressed, so the mass retains some of its dairy content. From there the curds are washed to reduce their acidity, then dressed with milk, cream, or creme fraiche to form a lumpy scoopable goop that inspires delight in some, despair in others. If you’re looking for fancier cottage cheese, seek out higher fat versions that dress the curds with cream instead of milk. You’ll still get plenty of protein—and a much richer flavor.

Also read: In the South, Cottage Cheese Was Never Not Cool

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.