When I first began making cottage cheese, I really couldn't find a recipe that explained how to make it the "old fashioned way" that I had heard described to me. I had a couple of "Seniors" in my life who looked forward with great anticipation to my learning how to make the cottage cheese they remembered from their childhood. My father-in-law told me how his mother made cottage cheese on the back of the old wood cookstove, and then hung it on the clothes line to drip. His cousin, Dennis, also had similar memories of his mother making cottage cheese. It also didn't take me long to find out that those of German descent here on the east coast, referred to it as Schmierkase , which in German literally means "smear cheese". I began my journey by talking to as many people I could who remembered cottage cheese being made "the old fashioned way". I searched for instructions online and in books on how to make it, and I began experimenting. I am sure not everyone educates themselves the same way that I do, but I have to read "how to" do something and then follow through with my own experimentation. Sometimes it's a process that brings me full circle, but in the end, I have a better understanding of what I am doing. Such is the case with making cottage cheese.
Originally, I found a recipe somewhere that explained taking raw milk clabber and heating it on the stove, carefully monitoring the temperature, until the curd had reached a particular stage. At that point, the curd was then drained and rinsed. While this method worked, it seemed that I frequently had over cooked curds and the whole process seemed contingent upon my carefully watching the temperature of the curds that were cooking.
Later, I found a method I liked better (details here). I thought it was original but later found that "my" method had been previously recorded in the book Stillroom Cookery under instructions on how to make Schmierkase. The author writes:
This one pot method for clabbering and cooking on the stove top makes creating cottage cheese so simple, I can do it without much thought and with little clean up.
Note: If your clabber sets up and you don't have time to "cook" it to make cottage cheese right then, refrigerate it. It will slow down the clabber and keep it from getting too acidic for a mild tasting cottage cheese.
Additional Information on Clabber:
More About Clabber, Cultured Buttermilk, Curds and Whey
Clabber and Buttermilk