Take Your Pick: Cottage Cheese

When you pick up a container of something as simple as cottage cheese, wouldn’t you think it would contain…let’s say…milk, cream and salt? That’ s what I thought too. Assuming cottage cheese would be nothing more than cottage cheese, I never thought to check the label past the fat content. Recently, I did…and I was shocked! I shouldn’t have been…but I was.

While shopping at Walmart, I decided to swing through the grocery section to pick up a few items that we needed at home (this was before our decision to go organic.) Without even thinking, I grabbed a container of Great Value cottage cheese. It was the cheapest and all cottage cheese is the same, right? Wrong. Noticing that it was only half eaten and sitting in the fridge forever, something told me to check the label.

Here are the ingredients: Cultured pasteurized grade A fat free milk, cream, whey, salt, maltodextrin, citric acid, lactic acid, phosphoric acid, guar gum, carrageenan, modified cornstarch, carob bean gum, dextrose, potassium sorbate (for freshness), enzyme. My first thought was, “wow…what IS all of THAT?” So, I turned to my best friend, Google, and started researching.

Interesting…

  • Maltodextrin – food additive thickener; even though it’s processed, it comes from natural food, not a chemical additive
  • Citric Acid – a weak organic acid used as a natural preservative; However, most citric acid in the food industry is not extracted from citrus fruit, but fermented by Aspergillus niger mold from scrap molasses, waste starchhydrolysates and phosphoric acid
  • Lactic Acid – coagulator
  • Phosphoric Acid – mass produced chemical used to acidify foods and beverages; provides a sour taste; has been linked to lower bone density in studies (does this defeat the purpose of eating cottage cheese? For medical use, it’s used as a dentistry etching solution for teeth.)
  • Guar gum – extract of the guar bean; can be used as a thickener, emulsifier or stabilizer
  • Carrageenan – extract of red seaweed; different uses; thickens dairy products
  • Modified cornstarch – starch derivatives prepared by physically, enzymatically, or chemically treating native starch, thereby changing the properties of the starch; may be modified to increase their stability against excessive heat, acid, shear, time, cooling, or freezing
  • Carob bean gum – gum extracted from the seeds of the Carob tree; thickening agent and gelling agent in food technology.
  • Dextrose – a simple sugar
  • Potassium Sorbate – is the potassium salt of sorbic acid. Its primary use is as a food preservative (E number 202); inhibits mold; increases shelf life

In no way do I claim to be a food chemist, nutritionist or all around know-it-all about food production. All of this information simply came from Wikipedia. Anyone can find it with a little searching. What I DO know, is that list contains WAY too many ingredients for the simple making of cottage cheese. Of course, that’s MY opinion…and you know what they say about those.

So…what about the Kroger brand that I had been buying on a weekly basis? Cultured skim milk, milk, cultured cream, whey, salt, cultured dairy solids, cultured dextrose, maltodextrin, sorbic acid (to maintain freshness), citric acid, carrageenan, guar gum, locust bean gum. The item I had the biggest beef with, phosphoric acid, was not included in this list. That tells me it’s not a necessity in the making of cottage cheese. Just an observation.

For our third comparison, let’s consider the Daisy Brand “Pure & Natural” cottage cheese. Cultured skim milk, cream, salt…that’s it. Daisy is NOT an organic brand, though their products contain 100% natural ingredients, no additives or preservatives and no growth hormone. The choice seems obvious, doesn’t it? But, let’s factor in cost, taste and nutrition.

In comparison of the labels, the calories per serving are all the same. Kroger brand has the least fat, 4.5 g. as opposed to 5 g. As far as cholesterol, Daisy wins with 15 mg, followed by Kroger with 20 mg and Great Value with 25 mg. The same goes for sodium content: 360 mg, 450 mg and 460 mg. Daisy brand only has 3 g carbs with 3 g being sugar. Kroger brand has 5 carbs with 4 g sugar and Great Value has 5 g of carbs with 5 g being sugar. Again, Daisy wins in the protein area with 14 g. Kroger has 12 g and Great Value has 11 g. The only area in which the Great Value brand wins is with calcium, having 25%. The others only have 8%. Though, does the Great Value brand need to have a higher calcium content in order to make up for the phosphoric acid eating away at your bones? Purely speculation…but something to think about.

How about cost and taste?

  • Great Value: $1.97 – small non-consistent sized curds, not strong or pungent flavor, kind of chalky
  • Kroger: $1.99 on sale – small defined curds, creamy taste
  • Daisy: $3.39 – strong, rich cottage cheese flavor, slightly tangy/acidic flavor

In reviewing these stats, obviously, the cheapest cottage cheese has the least flavor and worst nutrition label. The most expensive has the strongest flavor and healthiest label. Which do we prefer? Honestly, we like the Kroger brand. Texture, price and taste are all appealing to us. Just because we like it, doesn’t mean I’ll buy it. We’re going to give the Daisy brand a go and see how it works out. We already love their sour cream, it’s time to test out the cottage cheese. Obviously, they are not all created equal.

Take your pick.

What’s YOUR choice?

***UPDATE: We have changed our cottage cheese choice to strictly Daisy brand now. Even though it is not organic, it only contains three ingredients. We also choose the Daisy brand for sour cream because of the same reason. It’s so important to read the labels and know what you’re eating.***

20 Responses to Take Your Pick: Cottage Cheese
  1. Sheena
    March 11, 2011 | 9:54 PM

    Not sure if I like cottage cheese, but we always get the Daisy sour cream!

  2. Amy
    March 11, 2011 | 9:55 PM

    Isn’t that crazy? Our family doesn’t eat much cottage cheese but I was surprised to see so many additives. You think it’s so simple, but we’re decieved. And most Americans don’t give a second thought to a long list of “ingredients.” Very interesting info on all those additives to. I didn’t know most of that. And I’m saddned that citric acid doesn’t come from a fruit but molasses mold. Blah!

  3. Christine
    December 15, 2012 | 2:22 PM

    Thanks for the article. I have not been able to bring myself to purchase cottage cheese because of all of the chemicals. I will try Giant my next grocery visit, maybe I will be able to find natural cottage cheese in the organic section. It really is disgusting how many chemicals are in our food supply.

    • Toni
      December 19, 2012 | 12:57 PM

      We have changed our cottage cheese choice to strictly Daisy brand now. Even though it is not organic, it only contains three ingredients. We also choose the Daisy brand for sour cream because of the same reason. It’s so important to read the labels and know what you’re eating. Most of the time, it doesn’t even sound like food!

  4. yummy mummy
    March 12, 2013 | 10:46 AM

    thanks for your insights and observations. i was horrified to read the label on the cottage cheese i had been eating. will surely try Daisy. I appreciate all the effort you have made.

    • Toni
      March 13, 2013 | 6:48 AM

      Such simple products like sour cream and cottage cheese…why such a long list of ingredients?? They shouldn’t even be able to call it sour cream…in my opinion, it should be called a “sour cream product” because that’s more of what it is. Same with cottage cheese or anything else that is laden with unnecessary ingredients. We have to just keep reading labels and making the best decisions.

  5. Laura
    April 29, 2013 | 11:15 PM

    While I think Daisy makes the BEST sour cream, I tried their cottage cheese when it was introduced a couple years ago, and I found it to be awful. The curds were like little BB’s, all perfectly uniform, and that is not the way cottage cheese should be. Also, the cream that the curds were in was gritty with the Daisy. I’ll never buy it again. Personally, I think Kroger’s low fat cottage cheese is pretty darned good.

    • Toni
      May 2, 2013 | 8:08 AM

      Really?? That’s too bad. It IS a change from the ingredient laden cottage cheeses that we are used to tasting, but once we made the switch, I don’t buy anything else. Aside from loving it, I can’t pass up the 3 product ingredient list. :) To me, THAT is what makes up “real” food.

      And YES…the sour cream is THE BEST. I think I could pretty much eat it with a spoon. LOL

  6. Jules
    June 17, 2013 | 2:35 PM

    I was SO happy to see that I am not the only person out there who has figured this out. When I was a kid (a long time ago) and even through high school I used to just love cottage cheese. Then, I suddenly seemed to lose my taste for it. No matter what brand I bought it seemed sourish, bland, dead. Not that sharp creamy-tangy fresh flavor I remember at all.
    About a month ago, it occurred to me to check the ingredients. Mystery solved! Locust bean WHAT?? and about half a dozen other yukky fillers that had nothing to do with good cheesemaking. As I picked the cartons up, brand after brand I truthfully felt violated! How long had I been eating this? How do they get away with calling this concoction cottage cheese? It ought to be called imitation cottage cheese, because that’s what it is.
    Even the organic brand let me down, same exact crap. Then last one left, a little carton of Daisy. I could not believe my eyes for it was simply made of cultured skim milk, cream and salt. My old childhood friend! It did not disappoint, I think it’s wonderful and I hope Daisy gets rich off of it and keeps making it forever because its the last brand left in my town. Cottage cheese is almost extinct. Sad what so many of these companies are feeding us these days.

    For what it’s worth, I compared the nutrition label on my value brand cheese with the Daisy and the Carbs, Fat, Calories, Sodium etc all come out healthier for you with the Daisy. The fake cheese tastes like garbage because it is.

  7. Matt
    August 31, 2013 | 10:23 AM

    IMO any brand that contains anything other than milk, cream, and salt is just disgusting, even if talking purely in terms of taste! I first encountered this in Canada (was disappointed and surprised after buying it) and I thought it was a Canadian thing, but I recently was just unpleasantly surprised again by a different brand I bought here in NYC. Just goes to show you: always check ingredient labels.

  8. Matt
    August 31, 2013 | 10:24 AM

    P.S. Organic Valley brand is more expensive, but is absolutely delicious.

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  10. Mairead Rohini
    October 15, 2014 | 11:12 PM

    Does anyone know where you can buy the daisy brand cottage cheese in Toronto? Or any other brand that is actually JUST cottage cheese without all the additives?

  11. Cynthia
    February 17, 2015 | 11:39 AM

    Thank you for info on.cottage cheese..will switch to.daisy.!#

  12. Susan
    March 2, 2015 | 10:04 AM

    I only eat Daisy Brand Cottage cheese for that reason, not full of other chemicals. I have tried other brands always cheaper than Daisy, but end up throwing out an almost full container, taste just does not compare. A Registered Dietitian gave me the heads up on this product.

  13. Charlotte
    July 1, 2015 | 9:53 AM

    For a few years now, the only cottage cheese I’ll buy in supermarkets is Daisy. It’s even better than the organic that I bought, although the organic from TJ’s didn’t have the fillers and preservatives. I don’t know why they do that. Just to get it out in greater quantity and have it last longer? Must be it. Yet Daisy seems to do ok.

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  15. Angela
    November 15, 2015 | 11:00 AM

    Thanks for the compairison. The EXACT same thing happened to me. I typically only looked at fat/protein on cottage cheese. When I was eating my cottage cheese and glanced at the ingredients I was blown away!!! Interesting read and thanks for doing some footwork for me, I will be checking other brands and keep Daisy in mind for next time. Well worth the price. Amazes me how things with more ingredients cost so much less….seems like a broken system to me.

  16. M. Pius Potpourri
    July 16, 2017 | 2:13 AM

    Glad to see crap in cottage cheese grosses out others, too. I am old enough to have seen most of the brands of cottage cheese I have known go from something fundamentally decent to being a carton of watery swill. I used to love Knudsen’s until the day about twenty years ago that it suddenly started tasting like some sort of ungodly mool. Checked the label and sure enough–guar gum and xanthan gum. The hell with the texture–these gum agents are simply cheap substitutes for the real food that should be in there. Is that a practical business decision? I had purchased hundreds of cartons of Knudsen’s, maybe more. And not a single one since the day they started putting that garbage in their food. I love Nancy’s from Oregon; it has acidophilus in it for a really strong flavor and is addictive. Not cheap, but damn, it’s good.. I first encountered cottage cheeses with preservatives in the South. I lived there many years ago, and some people there probably think preservatives make a better product. Won’t mold for a month after opening, hot dog! When I was a young boy in Industrial Detroit, all cottage cheese was good, much made locally, and it came in waxed cardboard cartons. Look for the good brands and stick to them; every time we buy an adulterated product, we reward the thieves and poisoners who foist it off on us with lies about its safety, and about the purpose of fake food ingredients–which are always added to increase profit, not consumer benefits.

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