Smearcase (Cottage Cheese) and Apple Butter

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, November 2, 1912:  They made apple butter this morning. I had to get the dinner and then had to be teased about it in the bargain. Went to Watsontown this afternoon and stayed longer than I meant to.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Apple butter sounds delicious—even if Grandma’s dinner wasn’t.

How did the Muffly’s eat the apple butter?. .  .on bread? . . . or with smearcase?

In Pennsylvania, cottage cheese is often called by its Pennsylvania Dutch name—smearcase.  And, the best way to eat smearcase is with a little apple butter stirred into it. It might sound (and look) odd—but it’s really, really good.  The rich, slightly sweet taste of the apple butter nicely complements the cottage cheese.

27 thoughts on “Smearcase (Cottage Cheese) and Apple Butter

  1. I need to go get some smearcase. Wish we had good Apple Butter here to go with it. I could always find some good Amish Apple Butter in Missouri or my Mom would make some.

    1. I didn’t find any recipes in the hundred-year-old recipe books that I have. I’ll have to see if I can find any old recipes that look good. If I do, I’ll share in a future post.

  2. I never heard of the nickname for cottage cheese, “kase” I believe is German for cheese and it does smear so it makes sense. First time I tried apple butter was when we moved here and it is ok with smearcase, but I prefer it on toast. The folks in New Jersey where we moved from to come here thought we were heathens – But that said the folks here in north central PA at that time thought we were from a different country when I mentioned bagels. The locals had no idea what they were. I still think PA Dutch make the best apple butter!

      1. yes, I am glad for that, now we get fresh bagels everywhere and one bakery offers 3 types of cheese cake, Italian Cheesecake still being my favorite.

          1. Now I am hungry for it…and as luck would have it the bakery is next to the post office where I get the office mail. 😉

  3. I always added apple butter to cottage cheese when I was a teenager. It even became the “apple butter & cottage cheese diet” when I thought I was fat. Still love apple butter, but have discovered fig and pumpkin at Trader Joe’s.

  4. I enjoy your blog. My Mom (born in Baltimore in 1923) remembers her older brother mixing a little milk with cottage cheese and smashing the curds to make it smoother. That’s what she calls smearcase. My favorite apple butter came from Baugher’s in Westminster, MD. In Alabama, we make do with Amish produced apple butter from Ohio. Our local produce market stocks it. I eat cottage cheese and apple sauce (homemade) or apple butter with bread for breakfast frequently.

    1. Thanks for sharing your mother’s memories of what smearcase was. I have a lot of fun doing this blog, and it’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy it.

    2. Wow! I live in Westminster and have been searching for good apple butter for years. I can’t believe I haven’t tried Baughers. I’m looking for a smear case/schmierkase recipe… I thought when I had it, it might have had herbs…wasn’t sweet. Was smeared on bread then topped with apple butter.

      1. Westminster: My Uncle Bob said that his mother made Schmer Kase but ripened it by collecting the curd in a cloth and then hanging it on the clothes line for a while to drain all the whey from it. After a time, its taste was also altered (not sure in what manner or to what flavor) and it was then ready for use. He showed me how to layer the cheese (small-curd cottage type) on a bread slice and cover it with apple butter. Great stuff for hot weather nourishment.


  6. I grew up in a PA dutch family, a frequent dinner for us was a few slices of scrapple, egg noodles with butter and parsley, lima beans, and some dark bread with a smear of cottage cheese and apple butter. We almost alway had cottage cheese w/ apple butter on toast, either potato bread or a rye.

  7. I love when there are synchronicities…I haven’t had it in ages, but just this morning, I had smearcase on toast with apple butter for breakfast. Then I go to check my email, and see there’s a new comment posted about it. Warms my heart, makes me think of family.

  8. My father grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite family near Lancaster, PA. He ate cottage cheese with apple butter or applesauce almost every day. It’s still a treat I like to have occasionally. It’s fun to find out that it has a long history!

    1. Similarly to you, I also enjoy occasionally eating apple butter and cottage cheese. I usually eat it as a snack and figure that it’s fairly healthy as far as snacks go.

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