Cottage cheese comes in many varieties. Some have different fat content; others have different flavors and you may even see some packaging having the “large curd” or “small curd” label on it.
What is large curd cottage cheese? Cottage cheese is made by coagulating milk and separating the milk fats from whey using either acids or enzymes. Cottage cheese made with an enzyme called rennet will produce visibly larger curds while cottage cheese made using non-rennet ingredients will produce smaller curds.
Does this have an impact on the flavor and texture of the cheese and is large curd cottage cheese superior to its smaller counterpart?
Read below as we dive into what cottage cheese is and how these differences can affect various characteristics of the cheese.
How Cottage Cheese is Made
Making cottage cheese is very simple. Before we discuss the method though, it would be better if you understand the mechanics and chemistry of what goes behind making cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is made by allowing the milk to curdle. Milk has a very special property: when you add acid or enzymes to it, it changes its texture and consistency.
How does this happen? Well, there is a bit of science that goes into this.
Milk naturally consists of milk proteins.
These proteins can be thought of as puzzle pieces with different shapes that have nothing to do with one another—and there are enough unique shapes to cause the milk proteins to not clump together.
This is partly what makes milk homogenous and what gives it a liquid consistency.
When an acid is added to milk, the pH level of the liquid changes along with the behavior of these protein strands.
The acid modifies the proteins in a way where they become “attracted” and want to clump together and separate from the liquid that they are suspended in, which is called whey.
When enough of the fats clump together, they can be strained and the whey can be discarded.
The curds can further be processed by putting them in a cheesecloth and squeezing them tight to release any excess liquid. After doing all of this, what you will be left with is pure cottage cheese.
Since you used a basic acid to coagulate this cheese, you will have produced small curd cottage cheese, to be precise.
The Role Of Rennet
So where does large curd cottage cheese fit here?
It turns out that if you add rennet, which is an enzyme commonly derived from animals or even plants, it will affect and modify the milk proteins in a way where they will want to clump up in large, thick curds.
Remember, these acids and enzymes are used to manipulate milk in different ways. In the same way as acid, rennet causes specific reactions that cause the curd to clump up differently and also take on a subtle flavor.
Rennet is known to produce a better-tasting product due to the absence of acidity; however, it is derived from animals which may not be to everyone’s liking.
Fortunately, there is also plant-based rennet and food scientists have also been able to replicate the characteristics and effects of this enzyme using microbial and genetically modified products too.
So, you can rest assured that you will be able to find a cottage cheese brand that is made as per your preference.
You may even check the back of the packaging for more information on the ingredients.
Large Curd Vs. Small Curd
The difference between these two cottage cheese products is mostly in their flavor and texture. Large curd cottage cheese is considered to be a superior product since it tastes better than small curd cottage cheese.
For example, large curd is known to have a milky, creamy, and rounded flavor
Small curd, depending on how the milk was coagulated, would have a milky, creamy, salty, and slightly sour taste due to the use of acid.
The use of flavorings is also extremely common in both these products.
You can either choose from the classic taste without additional flavorings (apart from salt and perhaps sugar) or you could also go with products that have artificial flavors or sweeteners.
Due to the use of rennet, the large curd cottage cheese will have a non-acidic flavor which will make it more desirable for the flavor palettes of many people.
Cottage cheese is widely consumed because of its health benefits and the fact that it is a cheaper source of protein.
Large curd cottage cheese may be a bit softer and airier than small curd cottage cheese too.
Both types of cheese are texturally different with large curd cheese being a bit more spreadable, especially commercial-grade large curd cheese since it will be further processed.
Large curd cottage cheese can be eaten as it is or can be paired with salads, fruits, and fresh slices of bread. This type of cheese is famous among bodybuilders too who find it to be a great source of protein compared to other foods.
If you want to go a bit lavish then we recommend adding a bit of heavy cream with this type of cheese for an even creamier and richer flavor.
The heavy cream and large curd cottage cheese mixture can also be used on crackers, toasts, apple slices, and more.
Please note that adding heavy cream will drastically change the nutritional profile of the cottage cheese and will also increase its lactose content which may warrant some attention for people who have lactose intolerance.
A Few Things To Keep in Mind
As discussed, cottage cheese can be made using different techniques. For example, it generally doesn’t matter what fat percentage you go with since you will still be able to make cottage cheese without much issue.
However, some diet-conscious people may choose to go with low-fat milk which may require the addition of calcium chloride and other additives so that the rennet can do its job more effectively.
The milk can also be flavored with salt and sugar which will, in turn, change the flavor profile of the cheese. This practice is common when making both, large and small curd cottage cheese.
Also, you can change the texture of the curdled cheese by shaping it in different ways too.
For example, it is a common practice to make blocks of cottage cheese. This is done after the curds have been drained of excess liquid.
A heavy object is placed over the cheesecloth and pressed tightly for about 2-3 minutes and then left for about 8 hours.
This releases even more liquid over time and the compression causes the cheese to retain a block-like shape.
You can cut the block into cubes and use it in different ways too. You may even flavor the cheese before shaping it by adding in herbs, spices, pickles, and more.
But generally, the best way to enjoy large curd cottage cheese would be to have it on its own. It’s healthy and has a very pleasing flavor when compared to small curd cheese.
If you are new to the cheese game, then we highly recommend that you start with the large curd variety first.
Now that you have an idea of what large curd cottage cheese is, its many uses, and the difference between small and large curds, it is time to look at a few important questions that you may have in your mind:
How is large curd cottage cheese stored?
Cottage cheese can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container at 40°F as per the expiry of the product.
However, once opened, you can store the cheese in the fridge for about 6-8 days. Please try to consume the product before this timeframe just to be safe.
You can also freeze the cheese by placing it in a freezer-safe plastic bag and removing as much air as you can from the pack.
The cheese can be stored at 0°F for about 2-3 months, provided that it has remained frozen the entire time without experiencing any temperature changes.
Frozen cheese can be thawed in the microwave or overnight in the fridge before consumption.
Can you find lactose-free large curd cottage cheese?
Yes, you can find some brands that offer lactose-free cottage cheese in many varieties. You can even find cottage cheese with varying milk fat content.
Be sure to check the back of the packaging for more information about nutrition and allergens.
Is large curd cottage cheese healthier?
Both small and large curd cottage cheese are known to be a healthier alternative to other types of cheese. Large curd cheese has a better flavor overall as it doesn’t have a distinct acidic flavor like the small curd type.
Furthermore, large curd cottage cheese is rich in protein, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.