Lucky for me, I have access to fresh raw milk through a cow share. My next-door neighbor bought a cheese-making book, and we’ve been experimenting together. On Sunday, she made mozzarella, and I was going to make cottage cheese using a culture. But the milk was about a week old, and just barely starting to sour, and I was getting fresh milk on Monday, so I decided to experiment instead and follow an old-fashioned procedure described in a sidebar: I left the milk out on the counter.
By today, the milk had curdled into a mushy, gelatinous mass inside the jar. I poured it into a pan and heated it until the curd began to separate from the whey. It didn’t take long. At that point, I suppose I could have sat on a tuffet and had my fill, but I don’t much like spiders, so I poured it carefully through a square of muslin and hung it to drain for a couple of hours.
Then I put it in a jar and tasted it. That’s right, the solid crud I’d basically skimmed out of a jar of unpasteurized milk I’d left out for two days. I actually put some in my mouth and swallowed it.
It was delicious! Possibly the best cottage cheese I’ve ever had. And I made it. By leaving the milk out! When I think back on all the gallons of milk I poured down the drain, just because I’d left them on a sunny counter top all day and they smelled bad when I got home . . . it makes me weep. I may never refrigerate milk again. (I know, this will probably kill me. But I have a pretty healthy immune system, so hopefully I’ll last until breakfast tomorrow, so that I can enjoy some more cottage cheese on some toast. Mmmm…bacteria-y goodness.)