We’re big fans of the slow lifestyle here: thinking about what we use, how much of it we need, and trying to make choices that lead to less waste. I’ve personally followed with interest stories about restaurants serving only food made from ingredients that were past their sell by date, but still good to eat, and love the creativity that goes into making something delicious from something that might otherwise end up in landfill.

While most of us have had to ditch a pint of milk that’s gone off at some point or other, we’d generally prefer for it not to go to waste. And when you’ve got several pints too many, and only a limited number of people wanting a cuppa, what do you do?

This was our dilemma in People Tree HQ earlier this week. Not the biggest problem, perhaps, but it seemed a shame to let things go to waste without at least trying to find a solution.

A quick search on Google for ‘leftover milk’ quickly revealed a range of ideas, from béchamel to panna cotta, via rice pudding and other delicious-sounding things. Being short on time in the evenings, though, I went for one that had always appealed but that I’d never quite got round to doing: fresh cottage cheese.

The result? Ten minutes in the kitchen and four pints of milk later, and we had tender cottage cheese for everyone to share at lunchtime yesterday. Better yet, it occurred to me after the event that this was something you could even make in the microwave, so no need to take the milk home, either.

Picture of home made cottage cheese with fresh chives
Milk about to go to waste? Give it new life by making your own cottage cheese!

For those of you tempted to give this a try, the recipe is simple. Boil one litre of milk. While the milk is heating, squeeze the juice from one lemon (cider vinegar will also work, as I tried this on some lactose-free milk for me). Take the milk off the heat when it boils, and add the lemon juice – you can add salt, too, according to taste – and give it a good stir. After 5 or so minutes, you should see the milk separating into curds and clear whey. Strain the curds through a sieve, or in a muslin-lined colander, rinsing with cold water to cool them if (like me) you’re too greedy to want to wait for it to cool!

Add a little salt and pepper, or stir in some fresh herbs, or some red onion, maybe some ham or some pineapple. And enjoy!