Dairy Bargains.... (yogurt, string cheese, and cottage cheese from scratch)

I did it again. At the grocery store a couple days ago, there were several half-gallons of milk in the cooler at a dramatically reduced price. The catch was that they "expired" in two days. No problem, right? Make some muffins, some cream soup, maybe pop some in the freezer for another day? Unable to resist a bargain, I stocked up on this end-is-near milk.

On the first day, I made some string cheese for the kids using the American Mozzarella Cheese recipe that Dr David Fankhauser posted to his page.  For string cheese, I double the rennet, and reduce the sodium content by only using a half teaspoon of lite salt per gallon of milk. During the last steps, I pull the cheese into long strings and fold them over, like pulling taffy, until it starts to solidify, then serve it warm to the crowd instead of storing it in brine. If it is not eaten all at once, I'll put it in an airtight container and warm it up before serving it the next day. It will not have the preservative benefit of salt, so if I want to keep it longer than a day I freeze it.
Fresh Yogurt Banana and Ovaltine Smoothie

Two more days flew by. So here I was with a gallon and a half of milk with today's date on it.

Half a gallon (2L) became yogurt. Yogurt requires that milk be brought to a boil then cooled down before inoculating with the bacterial culture. Even though my favorite yogurt culture requires 12-15 hours' incubation, I was not worried about incubating pathogens because of the boiling step.

I was on a roll. Only one US gallon (4L) left.... why not make cottage cheese? My cottage cheese from out of date milk recipe also requires that the milk be boiled first, and can be used for milk even a week past its date. Tonight there were some, um... modifications to the procedure:

Step One: Put the milk on to boil.

Step Two: Quickly go to the bathroom, since the kids are in bed and the burner is on low anyway...

Step Three: Get side tracked. Check laundry, pet the cat, let the dog out, and let the dog in again. Find the portable extension phone one of the kids must have left in the toy box.  Forget why you went down the hall in the first place and check the latest on FaceBook.

Step Four: Hear the sizzle of milk boiling over and dash to the kitchen.

Step Five: Damage control. Pour the milk into another container, while carefully not stirring to disturb the burnt skin on the bottom of the pot. Get a towel to clean off the burners and the front of the stove. Pour vinegar into the pot and bring to a boil, which removes the burnt milk without scrubbing.

Step Six: Pour the scalded milk back into the (clean) pot, and place in the fridge to resume making cottage cheese later. Normal cheese making instructions would shun using old milk, and boiling or chilling it, but this is my recipe and it is idiot-proof.


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