Curds and Whey

Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider, who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

by Dr. Thomas Muffet

I got the children’s rhyme stuck in my head one day and remembered the questions I used to ask my parents about this rhyme—which as a child I found very confusing—except for the parts about a spider scaring Miss Muffet away. What is a tuffet? And what are curds and whey? I learned that a tuffet was another name for a footstool—a rather silly name (or so my six year old self thought).  And that curds and whey was cottage cheese.  The rhyme didn’t hold quite the same appeal when I said footstool and cottage cheese…


Take a small piece of rennet about two inches square. Wash it very clean in cold water, to get all the salt off, and wipe it dry. Put it into a teacup, and pour on it just enough of lukewarm water to cover it. Let it set all night, or for several hours. Then take out the rennet, and stir the water in which it was soaked, into a quart of warm milk, which should be in a broad dish.

Set the milk in a warm place, till it becomes firm curd. As soon as the curd is completely made, set it in a cool place, or on ice (if in summer) for two or three hours before you want to use it.

Eat it with wine, sugar, and nutmeg. When perfectly well made it always looks greenish.

From Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry Cakes by, Miss Leslie of Philadelphia


4 Responses to Curds and Whey

  1. Danielle Hinesly says:

    Ha! You’re so right. Somehow the little jingle just doesn’t sound the same.
    But the recipe you gave for curds and whey sounds a bit like yogurt. Never thought about putting wine on yogurt, but who knows?

    Thanks for your fun entry!

  2. Jennifer says:

    I know, I read the wine bit and I was like on it? Interesting. I should go investigate in my other recipe books and see if they call for the same thing.

    I do wonder how much this recipe would similar to what we call cottage cheese today. I’d be tempted to make it if I liked cottage cheese 🙂 One of these days I’m going to try actually making something from one of the old recipes and see how it goes 😀

  3. Tricia Tighe says:

    What time period was this recipe from?

  4. The Damsels says:

    The version I have is from 1853 (supposedly the 49th edition)Jennifer

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