Curds & Whey

  • 12 cups fresh water (3 quarts)
  • 6 cups instant dry milk powder
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the water in a very large pot over low heat. Stir in the dry milk powder as the water heats. Heat it gently so the milk won’t burn. When the milk is very hot (about 120°), stir in about a cup of vinegar. Stir the mixture up gently. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes, don’t skip this part. The mixture has to sit for the milk to have a chance to curdle. Now there should be a big clump of white cheese curd in the middle of a pool of clear amber liquid. Look at it to make sure. If the liquid is still milky, then you need to add more vinegar to finish curdling the cheese. Add a couple of spoonfuls of vinegar at a time and stir gently. More of the cheese will curdle and clump up. Continue until all of the cheese is curdled, and the liquid is clear. This liquid is called whey. The white clumps are called curds. You have made curds and whey, just like Miss Muffet.

Now the cheese must be rinsed. Line a strainer or collander with cheese cloth, or a thin cloth napkin, or a clean baby diaper. Get the cloth wet with a little water. Carefully pour the big pot of curds and whey into the strainer. Let all of the whey strain off. Run a little cold water over the curds to cool them down, and to rinse out all of the whey. Squeeze the curds with your fingers to break them up, and rinse them thoroughly. Gather up the cloth around the curds. Squeeze it to remove as much of the moisture as you can. This part takes a few minutes. Be patient, and squeeze the cloth covered ball until it is quite dry.

Now, open up the cloth and transfer the cheese curds to a bowl or container. You will have between 1 and 1-1/4 pounds of cheese curds, or between 3 and 4 cups of firmly packed curd. Stir the salt into the curds.

Ricotta or Cottage Cheese: The cheese you have now will work as ricotta cheese in lasagna, or pretty much any where else. To turn it into cottage cheese, add a little evaporated milk or yogurt to “cream” it and stir to combine. You can divide the mixture in half and make some of each if you want to give them both a try.

There are lots of other things you can do with this curd too. See the Dairy Section for details.

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  1. says

    We add 1Tbs to 1/4c of butter powder or just plain butter as we are heating the milk. This makes a product that turns out more like when using whole milk. When making drinking milk from powdered, 2tsp of butter powder added to a quart of milk will bring back the whole milk flavor (approx. 4% milk fat.) Since nonfat milk is what is left remaining when the cream is removed from whole milk, and cream is turned in to butter and non-fat buttermilk, by adding butter powder back in to the mix, the cook is just “reassembling” the milk. Try this technique when making yoguhrt from powdered milk then also try making the yoguhrt in to cream cheese. The same goes for making a cream product when needed for whip cream, drinks, on strawberries, etc. which is about 72% butter fat or roughly 3/8cup butter powder per quart of milk.

    Also, save the whey (the leftovers after the curd is removed from the pan) to boil pasta, potatoes, in soups, etc. as it is still very nutritious. The whey can also be used to make the next batch of cheese instead of more vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic agent. Using the previous whey to make curds will leave a softer curd.


    • says

      I took ur advice and used the leftover whet to make another batch of cottage cheese & yes it is softer and tastes better. THANKS. Now i will refridgerate the same whey & use it tomorrow to boil my pasta for Mac & cheese.

    • Dennis Kelley says

      I have a question please… my wife, she is going to have barriatric surgery soon.. I understand that she will need Protein and lots of it .. will this work as a food supplement for her to help provide the necessary protein she will need? If so, I will surely make this for her.. Thank You.. “Diamond!” My grandma used to make this when I was a kid.. now I know how too! :)

  2. Cassie Hay says

    How do you make this with regular drinking milk? We get WIC so it would be more affordable for us to just use the whole milk we get from that.

    • L. says

      Using dried milk powder is absurd. It’s redundantly over processed with heat and expensive. Yes. Use regular milk. It works great.

      Holy Cow! To throw away the whey is obscenely wasteful. That’s the protein of the milk! It is extremely high in protein and very nutritious. The left over whey is tasteless and can be put in shakes and used as a milk substitute in recipes. It stores for long periods of time in the frig as well.

  3. Lynda says

    To make it with regular drinking milk, just use milk in the recipe as if it was from powdered. Alton Brown has a good recipe that is similar – using skim milk and he adds some cream or milk after draining to make it like storebought cottage cheese. Yummy.

    I make mine with raw milk from the farm, pour off the cream layer to make butter, then use it to make cottage cheese. It is wonderful.

  4. Gale Osborn says

    My friend has a small farm and milks goats. She is making goat cheese and is giving me the whey. I get up to 2 gallons a day. the whey already has the culture in it,she uses renet and buttermilk for culture. I have been experienting and made a lot of things. I make buttermilk by adding 2 cups dry milk to two quarts whey,leave it sit out overnight,stir the curds into the whey and store in a glass jar. My buttermilk makes the best biscuits,pancakes and waffles. I made fatfree sour cream.I used 3 cups non-fat dey milk in 3 qts of whey.Left out overnight.Next morning placed the curd in an old pillowcase and drained about 4 hours.Mixed with a mixer. Very good. Made ricotta with the whey,also. All these things freezes well.

  5. sernamary says

    I would love to try these recipe. and they curds and whey. i have a lot of powdered milk that i want to use up; thank you very much for posting this

  6. janet says

    so can you use they “whey” to make anything else besides another batch or boiling water?…and my powdered milk is fat free!..any info would be great!!..thanks …j

    • L. says

      Since you are separating the fat from the milk protein(whey), you would have to use the dried WHOLE milk at least. Lots of suggestions online for using the whey. Don’t throw it out. It’s high in protein.

  7. Bonnie says

    Has anyone tried Kefir, I have all the curds and whey I need as it keeps growing for as long as you care for it, I no longer have goats but I know it is in all the goat magazines.

  8. Nealla says

    I live in a remote area of Indonesia and use shelf-stable UHT full-fat milk. Will this type of milk work for ricotta cheese?

  9. Rachel Gu says

    I have a hard time finding pwdered milk where I live and wonder if I can use reg. milk or semi skim milk. But the directons say 12 cups of water and then 6 cups of pwd milk. If using reg. milk, do I use 12 cups of it or more or less?

    • L. says

      Butter is the fat from the cream of milk. Once the milk is homogenized, no you can’t get butter. Powdered milk is more processed than liquid milk so not likely.

  10. amyo6 says

    So… I am thinking to use whole fresh milk.
    Would I still use the ratio of 12 cups water to 6 cups dry milk… when using fresh milk?
    Or would I use less water?

    Thanks, this is a great resource.

  11. Rita Grimm says

    Hi my name is Rita Grimm and I love trying all kinds of things I would love to make Bree. Cheese do I need a culture and were can I get it I live in Cape Town. Thanking you ever so kindly
    Just which some people would use there commonsense when you talk about powdered milk. And fresh milk if you make milk with powder milk haha

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