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Discussion Threads: Questions from the Field

Question:

You talk about cottage cheese a lot! What does the ideal cup of cottage cheese look like in regards to dressing or free dressing? And what are common dressing-to-curd ratios for small curd cottage cheese?

Answer:

The amount of cottage cheese dressing applied to the cottage cheese curd is a subjective thing. You want to have enough dressing on the curd so that the finished cottage cheese does not appear dry and pasty in the finished carton. (See photo 1 below). Conversely, you do not want to have so much dressing on the curd that the finished cottage cheese looks wet and soupy. (See photo 2). Therefore, the short and sweet answer is to apply as much dressing on the cottage cheese curd as the curd will take. Absorption in to the curd will be completely dependent upon curd texture. A firm and mealy cottage cheese piece will not absorb as much dressing as a properly cooked porous and meaty curd piece. An undercooked curd piece will be soft, wet, and mushy and again will not absorb the cottage cheese dressing very well.

A properly cooked vat of small curd cottage cheese will be meaty, yet porous enough to absorb a fair amount of dressing (see photo 3). Personally, I like slightly more dressing on the cottage cheese curd than what is shown in photo #3.

Remember cottage cheese is consumed at the earliest 3-5 days from the packaging date, and most often 10 days later or more, so enough dressing needs to be applied initially so that the cottage cheese does not get dry and pasty (as in photo #1). Dressing cottage cheese is like taking a leap of faith initially, put enough dressing on that it looks slightly wet on day 1-3 so that it doesn’t dry up during the shelf-life or in 10-20 days or so when it is most likely consumed. If you have ever had a cup of dry and pasty cottage cheese, I can say from experience you are not going to run back and purchase another one anytime soon!

Dressing-to-curd ratios: In the past having a 43% dressing to 57% curd ratio was considered average and probably the norm. Now in today’s marketplace, small curd dressing ratios of 48-50% are common, and some dairies can achieve a 52% dressing to 48% curd ratio in their small curd cottage cheese. As you know, dressing is lower in cost pound for pound than cottage cheese curd is. Therefore, the more dressing you can put on the cottage cheese curd, the more money your dairy is making on their cottage cheese! Guess which dairy is making money and which dairy might not be with the small profit margins that the larger supermarket and club stores are now giving? A dairy once told me if they didn’t dress their cottage cheese curd at 50% dressing and 50% curd, they didn’t make any money when they sold it to their largest supermarket customer. Another plant manager told me that his dairy made >$100,000 more per year when they would do nothing more than raise the dressing to curd ratio from 43% dressing added to the curd to 46% added to the dry curd. The pressure is on more than ever for the cheese cooks to get that curd texture just right, so that those higher dressing to curd ratios can be achieved without having the cottage cheese appear wet and soupy. If you need help in achieving higher dressing to curd ratios and think you need a different cottage cheese dressing stabilizer, then DuPont’s Hi Dress Stabilizer 1880 might be just the product that you need. Contact me or your local DuPont sales representative today!