Small Curd vs Large Curd Cottage Cheese

Small Curd vs Large Curd

Creamy, delicious and versatile, cottage cheese is a favorite of many – including yours truly!

Not only are there different types like regular, low fat, and non fat, but it also comes in two different curd varieties. While the differences in levels of fat are straightforward, the size of curds (large or small) isn’t something that most of us are familiar with.

So why are small curd and large curd cottage different from one another and how?

The main reason that small curd differs from large curd is the size difference between them because of the manufacturing process. Small curds are typically formed using half inch screens (also called knives) whereas large curds are formed with one inch screens. To a lesser degree, cooking points can vary as well as including additional ingredients (like cream) that are added depending on local taste preferences.

Taste Differences Between Small Curd and Large Curd Cottage Cheese

Since small curd cottage cheese is drier than large curd cottage cheese, it can have a slightly salty or sour taste to it. Large curd cottage cheese holds more moisture and as a result, most find it to have a sweeter and less acidic taste than small curd.

Property Small Curd Cottage Cheese Large Curd Cottage Cheese
Moisture Content Low High
Taste Slightly Salty or Sour Sweeter and Less Acidic

Ingredient Differences Between Small Curd and Large Curd Cottage Cheese

Both small curd and large curd cottage cheese result from milk acidifying and turning solid.

In order to break the solid down, cheese makers use either bacteria that produce lactic acid or an enzyme called rennet to accomplish this.

Originally, rennet was derived from the stomachs of ruminant animals and still is but today there are alternatives for those who don’t eat meat products. Non-animal types of rennet can be made from vegetable sources or isolated from the genes of animals and added to fungi or yeast.

No matter the method used, the purpose of using them is to separate the milk solids (the proteins and fats) once it has coagulated. After the solid separates, what’s left are the curds and the liquid portion of cottage cheese, which is known as whey.

Manufacturing Differences Between Small Curd and Large Curd Cottage Cheese

In commercial operations, cottage cheese is produced in large stainless steel vats called agitators. They’re most often rectangular and measure about twenty feet in length, five feet in width and three feet in depth.

After the milk has been allowed to coagulate (semi-solid state), a screen, which is also referred to as a knife, is inserted into the mixture and then pulled the length of the vat, cutting the cheese.

To make large curd cottage cheese, the screens have openings of about an inch whereas small curd screens have about have the width, or half an inch.

Once the first knife has traveled the length of the agitator, they insert a second knife at the opposite end where it is pulled the length of the vat once again, cooking the cheese in the process.

While it’s thought that experienced cheese makers can tell when the cheese is properly cooked, another device known as a Curd-O-Meter allows for more precise measurement and testing. It works by dropping a weight into the cottage cheese and depending on how far it pushes down in the curd, that lets the cheese maker know how done the mixture is.

The device was invented and patented in 1957 by a man named Erik Lundstedt. Mr. Lundstedt is recognized as a giant in the world of cultured cheese and was the first president of the American Cottage Cheese Institute.

Property Small Curd Cottage Cheese Large Curd Cottage Cheese
Production Method Agitators and screens with half inch openings Agitators and screens with one inch openings
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