This story starts many long years ago when we made yogurt in Texas. We used raw milk, we used prepared (store bought) yogurt as a culture, we tiptoed around the house while it was making and we had yogurt. At least, we had one batch of yogurt; we could never get a good result from using our homemade yogurt as a start for the next batch.
Also, Jason kept wondering why something so common in cultures with much more limited technology was so darn difficult to make.
We tried again in Vermont, and here things got even shakier. We figured it had to do with being able to keep the temperature steady for the entire time the yogurt was making. We gave up; it was too much waste for too little return.
Then, one day last spring, we decided to just leave the milk in a pan on the counter, because we only wanted the cream off of it to make butter. Well, things got away from us, and we did not get around to skimming the cream until a day and a half later.
Voila! Yogurt was hiding under our cream. That's it; that's all we did. We took a couple of gallons of milk still cow warm and left it on the counter for about 36 hours. Now this was a believable way to make yogurt. (You might also call it clabber.)
Now, cottage cheese presents a similar problem to yogurt. The recipes for it are extremely complicated and rely on a control of temperature that's hard to believe a "cottager" might have been able to maintain. After our experience with yogurt, we felt certain there must be a similarly lost way to make it.
And here it is-
Salt your curds and mix them with some sweet or soured cream or just some milk. It is not the same as what comes out of the container from the grocery, but the ingredient list is much shorter and the product is quite satisfying.