How we tested
Cottage cheese may be even more American than apple pie. It’s been enjoyed in this country since the colonists made it at home in their cottages and even today virtually no refrigerator is without a container. This fresh cow’s milk cheese is curdled and drained, but not pressed, then washed to mellow any excess acidity or sour flavors. The result is a very soft consistency and a slightly sweet fresh-cream flavor. Textures range from wet to dry, although you would never it know it from the marketing lingo. “California-style” refers to a drier cottage cheese, while “country-style” refers to a creamier, wetter mixture. Which tastes best plain and in cooked dishes like Baked Ziti, where cottage cheese is a substitute for ricotta? We tasted three national brands of small-curd cottage cheese with 4 percent fat. Most tasters praised our favorite for its creamy flavor and texture, but some holdouts preferred a drier texture and tangy taste.