A diet staple of the ’70s is making a comeback

Cottage cheese – a classic of the 1970s diet food genre – is a surprising retro ingredient that protein lovers can’t get enough of…

For some, even the mention of it is enough to make them shudder; for others, it has hung on as the ultimate nostalgic snack. A classic of the 1970s diet food genre, cottage cheese should really have been among those food fads lost in the annals of time. 

It has always been among the more divisive items in the cheese aisle. To taste, it has very little to do with cheese, falling more in the yoghurt category (Greek yoghurt eventually eclipsed cottage cheese when people caught onto it in the 1990s). 

It’s somehow lumpy and runny at the same time, it’s a suspiciously bright white (that’ll be the titanium dioxide – a common additive that now may or may not be in its recipe) and boasts absolutely no flavour whatsoever. 

And yet, in an unlikely plot twist, it is suddenly back in favour. Yes, the youth have discovered cottage cheese, and they are determined to bring it back.

Google searches for cottage cheese have risen to the highest levels ever recorded since 2004 and TikTok is awash with videos of young foodies and nutritionists extolling its virtues.

Some 322 million people are following cottage cheese content (who knew such a thing existed), and they’re not simply learning how to slather it on a cracker.

A new blend

A move to rebrand cottage cheese is underway, beginning with the texture. For many, it’s the consistency that was always so troubling (though one friend admits to loving the fact that “it’s slightly chewy yet runny at the same time”). 

The trademark lumps are curds, created when milk is mixed with rennet and a bacterial culture that produces lactic acid so it curdles, then heated and strained. 

The dried curds are then dressed in salt and cream. Whipping it (blending until smooth in a food processor) is billed as the gateway to cottage cheese for the texturally challenged. “I know there are a lot of trust issues with cottage cheese,” says one convert, “but I promise whipped cottage cheese is on a whole new level.”

Others urge anyone feeling tentative to think of it like ricotta or even burrata (which, with the greatest respect, is a stretch) and simply season it well. “I am on a mission to make cottage cheese the new burrata,” says New York food blogger Emily Eggers. “It’s 2023. It’s time to grow up and stop pretending like cottage cheese is not delicious. It’s creamy, it’s versatile, it can be salty, it can be sweet.” 

Eggers – who claims to be in her “cottage cheese era” – uses it to top a simple tomato rigatoni, as if it were a ball of burrata or mozzarella. Others are catching on. @foodswelovetoeat spreads it on toast like you might ricotta. “We all see cottage cheese having a moment and I am here for it!” they say. “I used to think it was gross but as soon as I started treating it like ricotta/burrata, a whole new world opened up!” 

Protein, price and perfect for baking

An obsession with protein is partly at the root of this resurgence of an old staple. Received wisdom these days has it that the best diet for promoting weight loss is one which is low in carb, high in protein.

Cottage cheese generally has a higher protein content than natural yoghurt (around 9.6g per 100g as opposed to 4g per 100g in full fat yoghurt), and while a hunk of cheddar would include more protein than a spoonful of cottage cheese, it would also include about five times the amount of fat.

Jake Cohen, a New York Times bestselling cookbook author, uses it in lieu of butter for protein-rich mashed potatoes. “I’m in a moment of obsession for blended cottage cheese. I used it to make a lighter and more protein-packed mash with tons of roasted garlic and it’s insanely perfect.”

Price is perhaps a factor too. Amid food inflation that has hit meat and dairy the hardest, a pot of cottage cheese (just £1.30 in Sainsbury’s) is perhaps a cheap option for the protein conscious shopper. At Waitrose, searches for cottage cheese saw a sudden spike in the past month, shooting up by 22 per cent in May.

For some, it isn’t a health food – rather, it’s a handy baking ingredient…..

The Telegraph: Read the full article here

The New York Times is also onto this story:

Cottage Cheese Makes a Comeback: The diet staple of the ’70s is jiggling back into the mainstream — bringing with it a host of health benefits.