Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cottage Cheese in Korea

Cottage cheese is nearly impossible to find in Korea.  I've found it once at Haddon Supermarket in Oksu-dong for 15,000 won for a quart (32 fluid ounces) of cottage cheese that disappeared in a day.  I've gone back to Haddon several times since then, and they haven't been stocking it.

Thankfully, cottage cheese is ridiculously easy to make.  You just need white vinegar, milk, cream and salt.  I've found that making cottage cheese isn't cheaper than finding it haphazardly - even at four times the price of what it would cost in the states ($4).  That's because milk and cream are expensive, and 1 gallon of milk only yields two cups of cottage cheese.  Also, white vinegar isn't sold in most supermarkets.  I found white vinegar at the Foreign Mart in Itaewon for about 5,000 won for a quart (32 fl. oz.), but you can get a massive 1.32 gallon jug of the same white vinegar at Costco for 7,500 won.  I also saw it at E-mart the other day.

BUT I'm thankful that my cottage cheese yearnings have led me to making my own because it tastes AMAZING.  It's unlike any other cottage cheese I've bought - creamy, milky, pillowy pebbles of cheesy greatness.  This, too, can be yours.

As with any cheesemaking, you should only use milk that isn't ultra-pasteurized.  I explained this in my post about making yogurt.  Basically, stick to Pasteur Milk or Denmark Milk (available at any biggish supermarket). Most recipes I've seen for cottage cheese call for skim or part-skim milk so I got two 1.8 liters (approx. 1 gallon) of Denmark Milk - Low Fat.

To make cottage cheese at home, you will need:

3.6 liters (1 gallon) Denmark or Pasteur Low Fat Milk
3/4 cup of distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 cup of half and half (which I made using equal measures of Denmark Fresh Cream and milk)

Pour all the milk into a heavy pot (thin ones will scald the milk) and heat up to 49°C (120°F).  Turn the heat off and gently pour in the vinegar while stirring slowly.

Continue to stir slowly for about 2 minutes, and you'll see the curds forming.

Cover the pot and let it sit for 30 minutes so the curds can set.

Pour the curds and whey through a strainer lined with a cheesecloth.  I thought my cheesecloth wouldn't be fine enough so I used a knock-off Alexander McQueen scarf.


You're going to be left with a massive amount of whey.  I use that to make bread and bagels.

Gather up the cheesecloth so you have a pouch of curds and run the curds under cold water while squishing and moving around the curds in the cheesecloth until completely cool.  Then squeeze the curds as dry as you can get them.  You'll end up with a ball of curds resembling a steamed mandu bun.

Dump your curd ball into a bowl and add the salt.  Break up the ball into tiny pieces using a knife as you incorporate the salt.

Add the half and half to get the consistency you want.  I found that my cottage cheese gets a little dry and lumped together the next day so go a little runnier than you'd like if you don't intend on eating it all right away.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown's Cottage Cheese Recipe.


  1. This looks incredible. I have been on a bit of a break from Korea and fallen in love with cottage cheese since I've been back home. I'm back to Daegu in a few months and already wondering what to do about the cottage cheese issue- now I have found your site and can't wait to get involved with some homemade cheese making. Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for this post!!!!! Cottage cheese was a staple in my diet, and I've been heart broken since I moved here last month! I hope to try this recipe this weekend. :)

  3. Hi- thank you so much for your helpful article!! I just made a bunch of yogurt and was looking for ways to use the whey and your site has some great ideas! Question- do you have to use half and half cream to make cottage cheese? Thanks again!

  4. Hi, you can use just milk or all cream. If you use just milk, I've found the consistency to be a little too "loose". Half and half is just half cream and half milk so just experiment, and see how you like it.

  5. Can whole milk be used? Love your blog!

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