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May 2, 2007 07:04 AM

Cottage cheese

Am I the only person to notice a difference between the cottage cheese we usually get and some U.S. brands? Such American brands as Breakstone's, Morning Select (these two available in a few Toronto supermarkets), Bison (available around Buffalo) and Michigan are dry, firm and tangy. By contrast, such local brands as Nordica seem to be little lumps immersed in an unappetizing, milky liquid that usually remains in the box after you have finished the little lumps. I usually pull the lumps out with a fork, so that the white liquid does not sop into the surface of my bagel, or whatever I am having.

I have written to several local manufacturers of cottage cheese on several occasions, suggesting that it might be nice if the US style were available at least as an alternative, but have either received unhelpful answers, or none at all.

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  1. If the Western Dairy alternatives are available in your are, you could give them a try-seem to win friends on this board, though I am not a cottage cheese fan.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LJS

      We use "dry cottage cheese" purchased from Loblaws for when we make our homemade perogies. It is found between the cream cheese and cheese section. Not in a container, it is in a package, a plastic bag.
      Hope this helps.

    2. I have seen the dry kind of cottage cheese at Sam's Club and soem Loblaws. Both places had the Western dairy brand. For some reason the cottage cheese with the liquid (often cream or milk) is the norm here in Ontario.

      1. I absolutely love cottage cheese, and I'm also frustrated by the lack of selection we have here. It's important to note, however, that there are three types (that I know of) cottage cheese that are made. There is a firmer, dryer type that is typically used in baking. There is a rarely-seen variety that is very much like ricotta in texture, although not as creamy, and much more acidic. And finally there is the curds-in-liquid style that we see most often. Amongst those:

        Nodica - The absolute worst, and most readily available. I have bought this about a dozen times, and literally half of them have been spoiled, including a couple containers that were literally inedible. Even when it's not spoiled, it's tasteless.

        Country Something-or-other - Pretty bland as well. Available at most supermarkets.

        Equality - This is identical to Country as far as I can tell. Found at Dominion, I think.

        No Name - Available at No Frills. Better than the preceding brands. Similar texture, but a richer, creamy, buttery taste.

        Dairyland - My favourite, and the only one with an edible very-low-fat variety (0.5%), although 2% is still my preference for all brands. Full of additives, but it has a much superior texture to the other curd brands, and a pleasant, creamy taste. Available at Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Marts with a grocery section.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Kasumeat

          I think the ricotta-like cheese to which Kasumeat refers is Quark - very rich, tasty in my opinion, but often used in baking. Ricotta itself has a nice, firm texture, but, to me, is a bit sweet for eating by itself, rather than incorporated in, say, lasagne.

          There are several "pressed" varities, some just in plastic-wrapped blocks, as well as in a plastic bag by Western. This is good, but is not the same as the cottage cheese Western makes in the usual box, which is no better, I think, than the rest.

          I think the Country something-or-other is Country Choice, "Le Cottagier" in French. No better than the rest.

          Oh, well, I guess it's another drive to Buffalo.

          1. re: Kasumeat

            I eat Dairyland cottage cheese out of the tub. It is, in my opinion, fantastic, but as others have noted, the curds-in-liquid style.

            I can't even stomach Nordica or any other goo brand, but make a weekly trip to Shopper's for my Dairyland 2%. Love it!

            1. re: GilTO

              Watch out for the 500 gr tubs of Dairyland 2% cottage cheese. The ingredient list has changed and I find it now has the same goopy texture as the regular brands. For some reason, though, the 750 gr tubs are still of the higher quality I buy this brand for. Saputo sent me some replacement vouchers and said there is a texture problem they're aware of, so hopefully this will be rectified. But for now I'm not willing to take the chance, so only buying the larger tubs.

              1. re: GilTO

                I just discovered this Dairyland cottage cheese 0% fat at Shopper's. (It was good Friday and all the stores were shut). Like yourself, I am delighted with it. NO fat and delicious! For years I ate the Nordica and others. I this price and quality, I will be buying at Shopper's from now on. N.B.: Saputo (Italian Co.) used to make this (Dairyland label), I believe, but they sold out to somebody. With the Dukan Diet book just released a lot of folks will be looking for a no fat cott cheese. I like the fact it's not sour, and you can chew on the curds!

              2. re: Kasumeat

                I've only recently discovered Dairlyland cottage cheese, and now I can't stand the slimy, goopy stuff put out by the main brands like Nordica and Sealtest. I've only seen it at Wal-Mart so far, and not living near to one, I am very hopeful that Shopper's still carries it (seeing this is a 3-year-old thread). It really is superior in taste and texture, in my opinion. They have recently had texture issues with the 500 gr tubs, so I stick to the 750 gr containers instead.

                1. re: CeeQueue

                  Shoppers still sells it, they have it on sale for $2.29 each on most weekends.

              3. It's NOT a US vs Canada difference. There are different styles of cottage cheese.

                The most typical style in both the US and Canada is the "lumps in liquid" style. Most products sold in tubs are this style. When these are firmer and dryer, you'll usually find a list of additives on the tub.

                The firmer style is variously called farmer cheese, pressed cottage cheese, and baker's cheese. There are also dry versions of a similar cheese called quark. The most widely available brand is Western, and the highest fat versions taste best. If you want low fat, you seriously sacrifice taste. No cottage cheese is actually all that high in fat, so why be silly?

                There is a store called Daiter's on Bathurst near Baycrest that should have it's own brand of cottage cheese in various forms as well as Western and probably others. They specialized in making cottage cheese for many years and you could (likely still can) buy it directly from the cheesecloth in which it has drained. Steve Daiter is the person most likely able to direct you to what you want. This is your best place to begin.

                Beyond Daiter's, you will find these cheeses in most food stores catering to a Jewish or mid-European clientele. Many Loblaw's and Dominion stores carry these cheeses

                Breakstone's is a premium kosher brand. They may make more than one style, but the one I know has the lumps.You can find it at stores in Jewish areas, but I think Western is better.

                Western has always been very helpful when I've requested information. The email to use is:

                8 Replies
                1. re: embee

                  Kensington Market has one of the oldest 'creamery's' in Toronto....Called "Mandel's" is the only serious contender to Daiter's stuff and Daiter's is a wonderful suggestion, for me, it's toss-up...I live a bit closer to downtown but I'm at Baycrest twice a week........sooooooooooo..
                  Mandel's is on Kensington Avenue, next to Global Cheese.

                  1. re: pearlD

                    In the first place, the dry variety of cottage cheese such as Morning Select and Michigan, is not the same as pressed cottage cheese. Nor is it the only type to have additives - just try reading the lid on a box of Nordica.

                    I don’t think it’s true that both varieties are available in Canada and the U.S. In many U.S. cities, especially in the northeast, both varieties are available. In Toronto (and in Victoria, too, I have noted), all the common commercial varieties are lumps in goo.

                    Nor do I agree that the higher the fat content, the better the cheese tastes. To me, the 4% Nordica is just gooier than the 2%, nothing more.

                    I don’t think Breakstone’s is any more kosher than any other brand. It was, though, very popular among Jewish families (such as mine) when I was growing up in New York. It was a small, local dairy, run by Selig Breakstone himself, that prospered (and was, I think, bought out by Kraft).. After all, unless you dumped in some meat or meat product, what is not kosher about cottage cheese?

                    1. re: ekammin

                      Just trying to help - not to dispute. There are multiple kinds of cottage cheese, all different, of which I named three. There are "creamed" and not-creamed versions of most. Quark is similar, but not exactly the same. Ricotta, as you note, is a very different taste.

                      The dry styles, such as pressed, are the kinds least likely to have additives, though they may. The lumps-in-liquid tubs that are relatively dry are the most likely to have lots of additives, as are all of the major supermarket brands. I have no dispute about your opinion of Nordica and its ilk.

                      My comment about higher fat refers specifically to the solid types of cheese, such as the Western varieties in the plastic bags and the stuff that comes wrapped in paper. It has little relevance to the lumps in goo style. Sorry if that point wasn't clear.

                      Anyway, I don't eat lumps in goo and I have suggested a specific place with some cottage cheese expertise. You should at least check them out. Toronto was once a centre for fabulous fresh Jewish style cheeses. At one time, Daiter's arguably made the best cottage cheese in the world and the defunct Mandel's on Baldwin St the best cream cheese. (Some in Winnipeg might disagree about the cream cheese.) As with deli, it isn't what it was. But there is still some pretty good cottage cheese available in Toronto.

                      If you still intend to drive to Buffalo, you can bring me back some Nathan's or Hebrew National franks. But Daiter's is a heck of a lot closer.

                      As to the kosher thing, some cottage cheeses are, indeed, treif. It depends on the coagulants they use as well as on supervision. Most are kosher (Western certainly is). But you expressed a liking for Breakstone's, which is found pretty much only in Jewish-oriented stores. Apparently it has a hechsher that some of Toronto's orthodox community specifically likes (especially for Passover). You aren't likely to find it in eastern Scarborough, but it is widely available along Bathurst and in Thornhill.

                      1. re: embee

                        Sorry about "Mandel's"...see my previous comment... The store next to Global Cheese on Kensington Avenue is called "Mendel's Creamery". Don't know if 'someone 'usurped' the late "Mandel's Creamery (Baldwin Street)... defunct as pointed out by 'embee'.
                        I do buy cottage cheese & cream cheese in Mendel's and think it's pretty good. I must say in all honesty, I never noticed the spelling until thanks!

                        1. re: pearlD

                          Mandel's on Baldwin was the original but it closed in 1995 (the window is still there though). No relation to Mendel's. My mouth still waters every time I pass that window.

                          1. re: cjdubs

                            Some of the old Mandel's cheeses are still made by Western, as are some former Bird's Hill/Blue Bell cheeses, though none of these are distributed widely.

                            I think there's some truth to the idea that many artisan cultured/fermented products depend as much on the flora in their surroundings as on their recipes. I doubt that Western mucked with the Mandel recipes, but (while they remain delicious) they don't taste the same.

                      2. re: ekammin

                        Ekaminn, what kind of animal did the milk come from ? Are you SURE?

                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                          Of course, I can't be sure that it's not from a horse, pig, whatever. But then, I can't be sure that a kosher label on a food package isn't a counterfeit, either. Not being kosher myself, I don't know how one would go about being sure of this.

                          As for cream choose, Loblaw's used to sell a "Winnipeg-style" one that was superb. They don't sell it anymore, unfortunately.

                  2. Same problem with Canadian Sour Cream... US Sour Cream is totally different (read: Better).

                    Any US Breakstone's Sour Cream available up here?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: JonasBrand

                      As noted previously re: cottage cheese, there is good sour cream and bad sour cream in both the US and Canada. Most sour cream in the US is additive laden crap, just like here.

                      The only place you are likely to find Breakstone's is in Jewish-oriented stores along Bathurst and in Thornhill. As it is mainly imported around Passover, the current supply will probably be sparse, but some stores do carry it all year.

                      I find Western sour cream the best I have ever tasted, including when I was a child in New York. (No, I'm not a shill for that company). It is fairly widely available around Toronto. There is currently some 30% butterfat Western sour cream at at some Loblaw stores. You should be able to find 14% and 5% butterfat all over town.

                      1. re: embee

                        Long ago I gave up on sour cream. I thought what was available here , other than Daiter's of long ago, was a bore and with a huge fat content. I switched to Maslanka which I much prefer regardless of the fat content. As it is ,Western Dairy maslanka has a fat content of 2.9%, MC is at 3.2% . I prefer MC.
                        Maslanka is essentially buttermilk yoghurt. Maslanka is much cheaper if you go to say a Russian store than at Loblaws etc.

                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                          Is MC Maslanka the one made by Future Bakery? (That is, by the dairy owned by the guy Borys - whose surname I won't try to spell - who is now an MP?) If so, than I agree with you. I like that brand better than Western.

                          But I love Western sour cream, where the 30% version is a reasonable substitute for creme fraiche and the 14% for any other old fashioned sour cream. If I have only the supermarket brands to choose from, I'll skip the sour cream entirely.

                      2. re: JonasBrand

                        I'll add my plea to yours -- I've found the Breakstone's cottage cheese (the only kind I will eat) but I would love to find the sour cream. I grew up with that stuff.