Blue Cottage Cheese
- Bryan Harrell
I love blue cheese, but factors like price, fat and salt limit my consumption. However, from a few months ago, I tried a little experiment. I took a small chunk (maybe 35 grams?) of generic Danish blue cheese and mixed it with about 200 grams of smooth (not curd type) cottage cheese. After a few days, the blue cheese mold seems to spread itself all though the cottage cheese, changing the texture (making it softer and a bit more creamy) while imparting that great blue cheese flavor in a rather big way.
1. Have you or anyone you know ever done this?
2. Is it possible that the blue cheese is actually culuturing the rest of the bland cottage cheese, or is this just my imagination?
In any case, for not a lot of money I can get a tub of great blue cheese spread, with very little fat or salt, though the texture is very creamy. It is fantastic on toast (with a few twists of ground black pepper) and baked potatoes. It also makes a great starting point for white pasta sauces. It also keeps well for a few weeks.
This is seat of the pants advice, if it is the same blue mold as you saw in the cheese, then I presume it is ok.
What you need to be careful is if there is a secondary fungi/mold taking root, which would likely exhibit it self as anything including blue, then I would steer clear of the stuff. So if something appears off or suspicious, then pitch it.
If you have any type of compromised immune system, I would steer clear of any molds/fungi including those normally considered benign. I have sat through lectures with medical mycologists where they discussed fungus infestations in humans. Each and every time it was someone with a weak or compromised immune system.
So be careful! Please!
Thanks so much for the advice and the warning, which I really appreciate. I'll be 50 this year, rarely get colds, and have a strong physical constitution for someone who rarely exercises hard and only walks a whole lot.
Nothing has been amiss with the flavors, and there seem to be no secondary molds (such as the light pink stuff and other weird smelling things). The surprising thing is the change in texture -- the stiff 'wallpaper paste' texture of the smooth cottage cheese is rendered softer and more creamy, while there seems to be some liquid release, though it could be due to the salt which is way heavy in a lot of common mass-produced blue cheeses.
Anyway, I have been doing this for about four or five months now, with no changes in my health. To be able to get this much blue cheese flavor for so little makes me think I am 'cheating the system' somehow and getting away with something I shouldn't be. But the flavor is fine, and all cheeses involved are pasteurized anyway.
Any other opinions out there?
I live in Tokyo, and the smooth cottage cheese is available from Yuki-jirushi. I believe I have seen a similar type of cottage cheese in California, though. It's basically just the curd type that has been mashed, it seems, into a smooth consistency. Put some curd type cottage cheese into a blender and give it a whirl.
I think you've been very lucky, Brian. Cottage cheese is a potential breeding ground for nasty bacteria (the kind that produce staphylocoocal food poisoning). Unlike yogurt or buttermilk, whose acidity prevents growth of staph, cottage cheese is neutral pH and is a growth medium ready-to-go, particularly when warmed.
You did not specify whether your blue cheese incubation was done at refrigerator temperature or room temperature. If cottage cheese is contaminated with bacteria (from unwashed hands, unwashed veg, or imporperly washed utensils) it is a ticking time bomb if left at room temp for more than a few hours. Also, some people are very susceptible to this kind of food poisoning, and some are not.
I'd be afraid of the staph potential, more so than the mold issue.
re: Joel Teller
I had the impression from Brian's post that he simply mixed the two together and left it in the fridge for a few days. Why would that be any more dangerous than leaving the two separate for the same few days in the fridge? It seems to me that Brian is on to something here! One thing I didn't understand is why it wouldn't still be pretty salty. Cottage cheese is usually fairly high in sodium - is the smooth kind less salty? Or do you just mean that it's less salty than the equivalent amount of straight cheese?
PS my favorite blue cheese recipe would work well with your cottage cheese idea:
(from recipe published in Boston Globe)
1 lb pasta (orecchiette or similar)
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
6 - 8 ounces crumbled blue cheese
4 ounces baby spinach
Prepare pasta according to package directions. While water is heating and pasta is cooking, roast tomatoes at 350 on a baking sheet with a splash of olive oil for 10 minutes or until skin starts to blacken and peel. When tomatoes are done, mix with half the cheese in a large bowl to melt cheese. Toss with pasta and spinach and garnish with remaining blue cheese and toasted pine nuts if desired. YUM!!
The cottage cheese I get here in Japan is surprisingly low in salt, and the fat is about 4%, certainly tolerable. The blue cheese has a much higher fat and salt content. However, the blue mold flavor seems to grow with time, so with that, you really don't need much salt.
However, I do note it does not keep as long as straight blue cheese; likely because of the lack of salt.
And thanks for the recipe. One of my favorite things to do with this blue cottage cheese is to put a large dollop into mashed potatoes. It also makes a super sandwich spread. Handy, if anything.
re: Bryan Harrell
Hey Bryan, et al.
Also, the creamy cottage cheese here in Tokyo works as a very acceptable subsitute for ricotta, especially if used in a baked ziti, or lasagna. I'm actually starting to prefer it to ricotta. It seems to let more of the flavors of the other ingredients come through in the finished product.
I'm gonna have to start Bryan's experiment going, and try using in some recipes.
I just love this idea. I decided to give it a twist. I had some sundried tomato and herb feta in the fridge. Whirled it up with cottage cheese. Used part for the ricotta in my lasagna, and put the rest in the fridge to see what happens. Thanks for sharing the blue cheese/cottage cheese idea. I was careful to use very clean utensils, containers, etc. Everything was very cold and I put it right back in the fridge when I was done mixing it. My cottage cheese had no culture but the feta did. I will let you know what happens.
I did this a couple weeks ago. Just finished the blue cottage cheese tonight. It was deeeeeeeeeeelicious! Wow. Yum.
Found this recipe after I unexpectedly ended up with a gallon of cottage cheese a couple weeks back and looked for ideas (It was half-off ;)
I think the trick is to make enough that you don't eat it before it's been growing a bit. Next one I think i am going to drain before I stir in the blue cheese and compress a bit.
Here's what I did:
-Bought a small piece of delicious-looking locally made fresh blue cheese with lots of blue. I decided I could splurge a little if I was making it into 4 pounds of blue-cheese goodness (I only used half of the cottage cheese). The piece I bought was about 3 ounces.
FYI I recommend washing the work area. I've cultured cheese and saurkraut and kimchi and kombucha and mushrooms and beer and wine before. Cleanliness is important when you're growing mold and fungus.
-cut blue cheese into small crumbles
-pour half the cottage cheese into a freshly washed bowl
-add blue cheese crumbles
-pour in the rest of the cottage cheese and stir
-pour the blue cottage cheese mix into the original container(s)
-return containers to fridge for use.
-savor the taste the remainder as a baseline for your cheese
I left it alone for a day or two before I used some in a wrap. When I opened the container it seemed like the cottage cheese had a bluish hue, and when I spooned some out for the wrap, the cheese was definitely brighter below, so I stirred the whole thing up (the Penicillium mold needs oxygen).
Over the next two weeks I made wraps and salads and saw the cheese develop more mold, mostly a diffuse blue hue, but also small blue patches. It was good. It was easy. I am happy.