Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese
Source of milkSkimmed milk
TextureSoft, creamy, and soupy
Fat content0~5%
Related media on Commons

Cottage cheese is a curdled milk product with a mild flavour and a creamy, heterogeneous, soupy texture, made from skimmed milk. An essential step in the manufacturing process distinguishing cottage cheese from other fresh cheeses is the addition of a "dressing" to the curd grains, usually cream, which is mainly responsible for the taste of the product. Cottage cheese is not aged.[1]

Cottage cheese can be low in calories compared to other types of cheese — similar to yogurt; this makes it popular among dieters and some health devotees. It can be used with various foods such as yogurt, fruit, toast, and granola, in salads, as a dip, and as a replacement for mayonnaise.



Main article: History of cheese

A popular story on the origin of cheese was taken from Homer's Odyssey, in which the poet describes how the Cyclops, Polyphemus, made cheese by storing milk in animal stomachs.[2] The enzyme rennin from the stomachs of nursing animals induces a coagulation process separating the curds from the milk.[3]

Cheese is thought to have occurred in the Middle East around 5,000 BC.[2] Evidence of cheese can be found in a band of carvings on the walls of an ancient Mesopotamian temple that dates back to 3,000 BC. The ancient carvings show how the civilization created a cheese-like substance, using salt and milk to create a salty, sour curd mixture believed to be somewhat similar to today's cottage cheese.[4] As Rome expanded its empire, it spread the knowledge of cheese, discovering many new forms.[5]


Home-made cheese in cheesecloth traditional method

In the early 20th century, farmers in northeastern British Columbia made something they called "homesteader's cheese," which is said to have been similar to modern industrial cottage cheese (a "Dutch cheese" also existed there at the time, but this was something else).[6] The term cottage cheese first began to be used for such simple homemade cheese in America in the mid-19th century.[7]

The first American cheese factory opened in 1868, beginning the wholesale cheese industry in the United States. The popularity of industrial cheese in the United States, in general, increased greatly at the end of the 19th century; by the turn of the 20th century, farm cheese production had become significant.[3]

World War I poster encouraging U.S. citizens to consume cottage cheese as an alternative to meat products

Cottage cheese was widely promoted in America during the First World War, along with other dairy products, to save meat for infantry rations. This promotion was shown in many war posters, including one which claimed that one pound of cottage cheese contains more protein than a pound of lamb, pork, beef, or chicken. After the war, cottage cheese quickly became more popular. Thirty million pounds (14,000 t) of cottage cheese were produced in 1919[7] (out of 418,000,000 pounds (190,000 t) of cheese in general in 1920),[3] and by 1928, 87,000,000 pounds (39,000 t) were manufactured.[7] Consumption peaked in the United States in the 1970s when dieting became popular, and some $1.3 billion of it was sold per year, but in the 1980s, yogurt became more popular, and sales dropped considerably further in the 2000s.[8]

In 2016, a Wall Street Journal article speculated that cottage cheese might be ready for a resurgence following the popularity of Greek yogurt due to its high protein and low sugar levels.[9]

In 2023, a TikTok trend for making ice creams, cookie dough and other foods with cottage cheese led to a 15.9% rise in sales of the product in the United States.[10] Stores in the United Kingdom reported a 22-30% increase in sales by May 2024, compared to a year previously.[11]


A container of cottage cheese

Since the 1930s, industrial cottage cheese has been manufactured using pasteurized skim milk,[12][13] or in more modern processes using concentrated nonfat milk or reconstituted nonfat dry milk.[12] A bacterial culture that produces lactic acid (Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis or L. lactis ssp. cremoris strains such as are usually used) and rennet, which allows the milk to curdle and parts to solidify, are added to skim milk and heated until it reaches 90 °F (32 °C), and maintained at that temperature for 8 hours or more. The solids, known as curd, form a gelatinous skin over the liquid (known as whey) in the vat, which is cut into cubes with wires, allowing more whey to drain from the curds. The curds are then reheated to 120 °F (49 °C) for one or two hours. In Iowa in the early 1930s, hot water was poured into the vat, further forming the curds. Once the curds have been drained and are primarily[clarification needed] dry, the mass is pressed to dry the curds further. The curds are then rinsed in water.[2][7][12][13] Finally, salt and a "dressing" of cream are added, and the final product is packaged and shipped for consumption.[2][8][13] Some smaller modern luxury creameries omit the first heating step but allow the milk to curdle much longer with bacteria to produce the curds or use crème fraîche as dressing.[8]

Cottage cheese made with a food-grade acid must be labelled as a "Direct Acid set."[12]

Usually, a small amount of low CO2-producing citrate-fermenting lactococci or leuconostoc bacterial strains are added to the starter mix for the production of diacetyl for added buttery or creamy flavours. Producers must be careful that the final product contains approximately 2 ppm diacetyl and that the ratio of diacetyl to acetaldehyde is 3–5 to 1 to achieve the typical cottage cheese flavor. If the ratio is too small, the product tastes grassy; if it is too much, the taste becomes harsh.[2]

Cottage cheese is naturally yellow due to the cream dressing, but to increase consumer acceptance and appeal of the final product, titanium dioxide is usually added to the dressing to make it a brilliant white colour and enhance the marketability of the finished product. In the United States, the FDA allows the additive in many dairy products (not whole milk) up to 1% of total volume by weight, but it must be labelled in the ingredient list. It may also be used in Canada and the European Union. Recently, producers have added this ingredient in nanoparticle form. In the US, the FDA does not restrict nanoparticle technology used in food, but in Europe, it must be first submitted for approval as a food ingredient. According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, it is found in hundreds of products, not always labelled as such, including many organic products;[14][15][16] however, several large US producers have denied using it.[17]

Cottage cheese may be marketed as a small-curd (<4 mm diameter) or large-curd (>8 mm diameter).[12]


Cottage cheese
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy412 kJ (98 kcal)
3.38 g
Sugars2.67 g
4.30 g
11.12 g
Vitamin A equiv.
37 μg
12 μg
83 mg
0.07 mg
8 mg
159 mg
104 mg
364 mg
0.40 mg
Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[18] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[19]

Cottage cheese is popular among dieters[12] and some health food devotees. It is also relatively popular among bodybuilders and athletes for its high content of casein protein while being relatively low in fat. Cottage cheese is also safe to eat during pregnancy, unlike some cheese products that are not recommended.[20][21]

The sour taste of the product is due to lactic acid, which is present at 124–452 mg/kg. Formic, acetic, propionic and butyric acids contribute to the aroma.[12]

Due to its incorporation of whey, cottage cheese is high in lactose relative to most other cheeses. However, lactose is partially decomposed by lactic acid fermentation.


Cottage cheese and kabanos breakfast

In the United States and Canada, cottage cheese is popular in many culinary dishes.[22] It can be combined with fruit and sugar, salt and pepper, fruit purée, tomatoes, or granola and cinnamon. It can be eaten on toast, in salads, as a chip dip, as a replacement for mayonnaise in tuna salad, and as an ingredient in recipes such as jello salad and various desserts. Cottage cheese is also popular with fruit, such as pineapple, pears, peaches, or mandarin oranges.

See also

Coagulate skimmed milk with lactic bacteria and rennet

Coagulate with citric acid or acetic acids


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  11. ^ Simpson, Jack (3 May 2024). "UK cottage cheese sales boom as social media craze drives demand". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
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  13. ^ a b c "The Manufacture of Cottage Cheese in Iowa Creameries and Milk Plane". Circular (Iowa State College, Agricultural Experiment Station). 126: 16. Archived from the original on 2020-10-30. Retrieved 2019-02-21.
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