I have been unable to find an etymology for the term Cottage Cheese in English. Interestingly, the Hebrew Wikipedia lists the etymology as being due to cottage cheese being prepared from the wastes of other milk products, hence its association with the poor and named after houses typical of the poor. The English Wikipedia has a single line alluding to such with no reference, and the Hebrew reference is rather dubious as well.
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It's not to do with cheap/expensive - it's like country wine, which notwithstanding Wikipedia's definition, I take to mean capable of being made on a small scale, without use of industrial production facilities. That's the core sense of cottage industry and cottage hospital, so I imagine it's the same general idea with cheese.
I'm no cook/cheesemaker, but I'd be pretty sure cottage cheese is much easier to make at home with minimal specialist equipment than, say, Cheddar, or Brie.
EDIT: I see others mentioning that Wikipedia says the term was first recorded in 1848. That's complete tosh. Here, for example, is an 1831 reference - which I'm sure is nowhere near "first use".
From the Wikipedia article:
Cottage cheese is not matured like other cheeses. The small-scale production techniques probably mean the infrastructure to safely and successfully do this were not available to the humble domestic cheese producers so their product was sold 'fresh'.
Unsourced speculation this; however:
I think it's wrong to equate "cottage" with real poverty. Only the very wealthy would live in a castle or a mansion. A successful farmer might live in a cottage. (cf Anne Hathaway's Cottage; family dwelling of William Shakespeare's wife).
Making "proper" cheese is an involved procedure, involving months of attended maturation. Even in the Middle Ages, you would buy cheese from a professional cheesemaker rather than make your own.
Cottage cheese, however, is easy to make in the home. Heat some milk, throw in a curdling agent (rennet), squeeze out the liquid whey, and it's ready. Hence it's something someone would make in their cottage, rather than buying in.
Cottage cheese is one of those food words that varies geographically; in fact, it's been used in many dialect surveys as an indicator of dialect boundaries.
For instance, the following terms are (or have been) used for the same product in various American locations: cottage cheese, pot cheese, curds and whey, farmer cheese, and smearcase (the latter is an Anglicization of Pennsylvania German Schmierkees, from German Schmierkäse).
Wikipedia attributes the information to etymonline, where we find:
protected by tchrist Nov 29 '15 at 19:58
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