Facts About Cottage Cheese

by Matthew Lee

Cottage cheese sits on a plate with a tea towel in the background.

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Cottage cheese is a mild-tasting, high-protein cheese curd product. Made by curdling milk and draining most of the whey, or liquid, from the solid product, cottage cheese is essentially unprocessed or raw cheese. Due to its long history and adaptability, cottage cheese is linked to a number of interesting facts.

Cottage Cheese Transformations

Cottage cheese begins as slightly soured, low-fat pasteurized milk. This creates a substance with both liquid, or whey, and solid, or curd, parts. By draining the whey from the curds, you create cottage cheese. Slightly pressing or draining this gelatinous substance further creates pot cheese. As this dry-yet-creamy cheese retains some moisture, you can press pot cheese further to create farmer's cheese, a solid and crumbly cheese. While farmer's cheese is generally made with milk, cream and salt, the drier, less flavorful hoop cheese is made in a similar fashion without the cream and salt.

Cottage Cheese in History

While the history of cottage cheese dates back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, its name is derived from the time of the early American settlers. As this cheese was made on their stovetops and in their kitchens, the name cottage cheese arose to reflect the small dwellings that served as the settlers' homes. With such roots in American history, it may come as no surprise that it was a staple food for President Richard Nixon. Usually eaten for lunch, Nixon's last meal as president was a bowl of cottage cheese with a slice of pineapple on it.

Nutritional Facts

Compared with other cheeses, cottage cheese is surprisingly healthy. A 100-g serving of creamed cottage cheese contains 98 calories and only 4.3 g of fat, 1.7 of which is saturated. The same serving size contains 3.4 g of carbohydrates and 364 mg of sodium, or 16 percent of your recommended daily intake based on a 2,000-calorie per day diet. Though popular among athletes and bodybuilders due to its low-fat, low-calorie and low-carbohydrate content, cottage cheese is primarily known for its protein, with 11.1 g of protein in a 100-g serving.

Production and Storage

According to a 2010 USDA report, Americans consume approximately 600 million lbs. of cottage cheese each year. With 100 lbs. of milk required to produce 15 lbs. of cottage cheese, this means that approximately 4 billion lbs. of milk are required to produce enough cottage cheese to satisfy the U.S. market.

Based on the USDA's numbers, the average American eats approximately 2 pounds of cottage cheese every year. However, due to cottage cheese's short shelf life, these numbers may be distorted by the amount that is discarded every year. To extend the life of your cottage cheese, ensure that it is always kept in your fridge in a sealed container. Once cottage cheese approaches its expiry date, you may want to try pressing it to make one of the harder, longer-lasting cheeses listed above.

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About the Author

Matthew Lee has been writing professionally since 2007. Past and current research projects have explored the effect of a diagnosis of breast cancer on lifestyle and mental health and adherence to lifestyle-based (i.e. nutrition and exercise) and drug therapy treatment programs. He holds a Master of Arts in psychology from Carleton University and is working toward his doctorate in health psychology.