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What Is Cottage Cheese? How To Store, Freeze, Serve & More

What Is Cottage Cheese? How To Store, Freeze, Serve & More

This no-nonsense guide will help you learn what is cottage cheese and covers: how to store cottage cheese, how to freeze cottage cheese (but we don’t recommend it), ways to use it in cooking and recipes, and tips to tell if it’s bad. 

Cottage cheese is a creamy, tangy, soft and spoonable cheese that is made from fresh milk. It is heated and treated so that the lumps, or curds, separate from the moisture, also called whey. Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and calcium, and it is often used in breakfast dishes, salads, and desserts.

Is it your first time seeing cottage cheese listed as an ingredient in a recipe? If so, it makes sense to wonder what it’s made of, how it looks or tastes, how it’s stored, and what other recipes use it. 

If you want to know more about cottage cheese, look no further! Here, you’ll explore the world of cottage cheese!

There must have been at least one point you’ve tried it on a dip, on toast, or with eggs without knowing what it was. 

It’s quite easy to spot, though; it’s white and has a unique texture.

If you’re looking at trying it, grocery-store cottage cheese containers are primarily available in two main sizes: small and large curd. Small curd has a curd of a ¼-inch size, while large curds are approximately ⅜ inch.

Aside from the size, they also have slight differences in taste. 

Large-curd cottage cheese has a sweeter, less acidic taste than small curds. Those who love the large curds like to put them on their salads and bread.

Meanwhile, small curds could be watery and sour yet creamy and soft, making them suitable to mix with yogurt or used as a replacement for mayo and a skim milk substitute in making ice cream. 

There are tons of ways you can use cottage cheese. You can use it in making savory recipes, appetizing side dishes, and more! See below for more links to recipes, ideas for serving, tips for storing and freezing and more about cottage cheese!

Let’s start with the basics. 

Also known as pot cheese, and dry curd is also called farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese is a white or slightly yellow, soft, spoonable cheese that’s eaten cold as is, or added to recipes.

It doesn’t go through ripening or aging processes, so it falls under the fresh cheese category. It has a subtle or mild flavor, unlike aged cheeses.

Its flavor can easily change from bland to slightly salted or sour and somewhat acidic as it depends on the moisture content and the presence of acidic ingredients.

Also, the fat, acid, sodium, cream, and dry-matter content vary. But generally, cottage cheese has a mild, creamy flavor with a hint of saltiness.

Texture-wise, cottage cheese with a milk fat content of 4% is the creamiest and milkiest cottage cheese.


The term ‘cottage cheese’ is believed to have originated because the cheese was generally made in cottages from leftover milk. Cottage cheese can be eaten by itself, with fruits, toast or even used in salads. The cheese is creamy, lumpy and sold in pots.

On the other hand, low-fat varieties may feature a noticeably sour taste akin to sour cream. Modern innovations also create calcium-fortified cottage cheese, have probiotics, or have a longer shelf-life. 

Furthermore, while cottage cheese is mainly high in lactose, lactose-free varieties are now available in the market.

How is cottage cheese made?

It was only until the mid-1800s that the term “cottage cheese” came about in American vocabulary. 

Farmers in Europe were well into making farmhouse cheesemaking for centuries, and the immigrants to America brought the tradition with them. 

Here’s a quick summary of making homemade cottage cheese.

  1. The process starts with using pasteurized skim milk. 
  2. The solid particles will undergo acidification to create the curdled milk.

There are several ways to do this process.

You can add lactic starter bacteria like rennet or UF retentate, but take note, cottage cheese is generally made without rennet but with an acidic ingredient like vinegar and lemon juice. 

Others choose to fortify with non-fat dry milk (NFDM).

  1. The process has several steps, including forming, annealing, cooking, washing, and coating the curds with a cream dressing. 
  2. You can also add spices, herbs, or fruit to give the dairy product a signature flavor.
  3. The curdled milk will then be allowed a “setting time” at 72 to 75°F, between 5 to 16 hours before being cut.

Is cottage cheese Keto?

If you’re on the low-carb, high-fat keto diet, you may wonder if this cheese suits your meal plan. It contains some carbs, so it’s wise to choose the right variety.

A keto-friendly option is the full-fat, plain cottage cheese. Avoid nonfat and reduced-fat types. These have less fat and high carb content as it uses stabilizers and gum-based thickeners. 

For it to be keto, it should have about 4% fat and 3 grams of carbs per 100 grams. You can mix in chopped olives or olive oil to add fat content or serve as a dip for low-carb veggies like broccoli, cucumber, and celery.

What is whipped cottage cheese?

Simply put, when you whip cottage cheese in a high-speed blender or, better yet, a food processor, you get this result.

Light, fluffy, and airy are three words to describe this versatile cheese spread. 

Those who made whipped cottage cheese found that whipping also makes the cheese saltier, with added tanginess in its flavor. 

It’s perfect on toast and baguette or as a dip for crackers, carrots, and cucumbers.

How to eat cottage cheese

When you are wondering what is cottage cheese and how to eat it, it works in lots of meals and recipes. Below are some simple ways to use this incredibly versatile dairy ingredient:

  • Fold in a spoonful for fluffier scrambled eggs, pancakes, and waffles.
  • Top salads for added protein.
  • Use as a sour cream substitute, combined with milk and lemon juice.
  • Mix with fruits: Add to a bowl with berries, melon, and bananas, or blend with fruits and almond milk for a delightful smoothie.
  • Use it as a creamy spread for our kitchen-tested and deliciously perfect breakfast toast.
  • Use as a mayo substitute. Spread it on a sandwich or add it to recipes calling for mayo.
  • Use as a ricotta cheese substitute for lasagna and other pasta dishes.
  • Add as an ingredient when baking bread, muffins, and cakes. Cottage cheese adds tenderness, flavor, and an interesting texture to these baked treats.

Because of how versatile cottage cheese is, there are several yummy recipes you can try making with it–from breakfast and dips to baked goodies and smoothies.

Here are five recipes you can also try:

A lighter take on the heavy cream-and-butter combo of a traditional alfredo, swapping it with cottage cheese and garlic.

This dip is made with cottage cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, radish, and chives. Add add-ons to the recipe, like smoked mackerel, onions, and boiled eggs. This recipe is a delicious spread on sliced bread or topped on baked potatoes for lunch or dinner.

Here’s a truly delicious dip perfect for fruits. The recipe is lusciously creamy, thanks to cottage cheese, honey, vanilla, and a splash of lemon, which adds an amazing depth of flavor.

This Strawberry Cottage Cheese Smoothie is straightforward, and its flavor profile resembles that strawberry milkshake you love. Simply gather milk, frozen strawberries, cottage cheese, honey, and a dash of vanilla, then let the blender do the rest!

Fill your entire house with the heartwarming aroma of these Cottage Cheese Rolls! The rolls are soft, pillowy, and heavenly tender, with a hint of cottage cheese and vanilla. It calls for a gluten-free bread flour blend, but feel free to use all-purpose gluten-free flour and tweak the recipe a bit.

Tips on storing cottage cheese

Here are some tips to help you keep your cottage cheese fresh and tasty for as long as possible:

  • As it falls under the “fresh cheese” category, cottage cheese has a short shelf life, compared to aged cheeses. First, you should check its “Best By” or expiration date. 
  • Use a clean, unused spoon each time you go for a serving of cottage cheese. This helps to cut down on the amount of bacteria introduced the whole container.
  • We recommend that you pick up dairy and meat as the last thing you put in your cart when shopping so it stays as cold as possible for as long as possible. When you reach home, refrigerate it immediately, keeping the temperature to 40°F or lower. 
  • Keep your opened or unopened container as far back in your fridge as possible.
  • Don’t keep cottage cheese in the door of the refrigerator, as a lot of cold air is lost at the front of the fridge.
  • Keep cottage cheese refrigerated to maximize shelf life; spoon out your serving and immediately put it back in to stay cold. 
  • Cottage cheese should not be left at room temperature for over 2 hours to prevent bacteria growth. 
  • More importantly, remember to store the cheese tightly covered and cold after opening it. Once opened, it will last for an entire week in the fridge. 
  • Check for mold every time you open the lid, before eating or using.

Can you freeze cottage cheese?

The quick answer is yes, you can freeze cottage cheese, but a couple of manufacturers don’t recommend freezing cottage cheese because it can affect the taste and texture.

Some makers, like Daisy Brand and Friendship Dairies, don’t recommend freezing their cottage cheese products, as this process can adversely affect the taste and texture of the cheese after being thawed.

Umpqua, one of the primary suppliers of all Dairy Queen stores in Oregon, also advises their consumers to avoid freezing cottage cheese because it breaks down and gets mushy.

So noting this, it may be a good idea to use thawed cottage from frozen only in recipes where the texture may not be as noticeable.

When frozen, unopened cottage cheese lasts between 3 and 6 months. Once the original container is opened, you can keep it frozen at 0°F for 2 to 3 months.

You can separate individual portions in heavy-duty freezer bags or airtight containers. 

This prevents taking out the entire container of cheese only to remove it from the freezer each time you need it.

When you’re ready to use the cheese, defrost it in the fridge for 3-4 days before use. 

Change the water if you thaw it in cold water every 30 minutes, so it keeps cold as it thaws. Thawed cottage cheese will have some liquid at the top–drain this before using the cheese.

If thawed in water or the microwave, consume immediately.

What happens when you freeze cottage cheese?

Fresh cottage cheese has a high moisture content. Freezing causes some moisture loss in the cheese, which can significantly change its consistency, texture, and taste.

Due to these changes, thawed cottage cheese is best to add to cooked dishes like casseroles, soups, pasta dishes, casseroles, and sauces.

How long does cottage cheese last?

Unopened cottage cheese lasts for as long as the expiration date on the packaging, as long as it is kept consistently cold.

  • Store in the freezer, unopened, and it will last up to 6 months.
  • Once opened, it lasts frozen for up to 3 months, but it’s best to move it to a more airtight container.
  • If not frozen, opened cottage cheese will last for up to one week in the fridge.

Although Dairy Brand claims their products can last up to two weeks after opening.

To know for sure, watch out for signs of spoilage.

How do you know if cottage cheese has gone bad?

This type of cheese should not be left at room temperature between 40° to 140° F as this encourages the growth of bacteria. 

It has probably gone bad or on its way to unhealthy bacteria and mold levels when left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

You will also notice discoloration, turning yellowish, with a sour taste and damp, sour smell with spoiled cottage heese.

Any signs of mold growth mean it’s time to throw it away.

The bottom line

Cottage cheese is considered soft cheese and fresh cheese, with a curdy texture with a subtly sweet, slightly salty taste. You can have it in chewier large curds (4% fat) or creamier small curds. 

It can also be used as a keto-friendly, gluten-free ingredient, so be sure to pick the plain, full-fat variety made with natural ingredients.

This cheese makes a great dip or spread for baked potatoes, bread rolls, and toast. 

Cottage cheese also adds creaminess to pasta, sandwiches, pancakes, and smoothies. 

Cottage cheese tends to have a shorter shelf life of up to 7 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Unopened frozen cottage cheese lasts up to 6 months, although freezing changes its consistency, flavor, and texture.

More About Cottage Cheese