Farmer Cheese

Farmer cheese with crackers, sliced cucumber, and grape tomatoes

The Spruce

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Refrigerate: 60 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings

Farmer cheese is an unaged (also known as fresh) mild white cheese with a crumbly texture. You don't need to be a farmer to make it yourself though; farmer cheese is really easy to make at home, and this simple recipe calls for just three ingredients. Once you make it, you'll start to see that it can be used in countless ways.

Since this is a fresh cheese, you can easily add more flavor by customizing it with your favorite add-ins. For example, you can mix in fresh herbs with the curds or sprinkle them on top of the finished farmer cheese along with olive oil and red pepper flakes. Use farmer cheese as a spread, as you would cream cheese or goat cheese. Eat it like cottage cheese—just add berries. Add in honey and a little bit of jam or fresh fruit for a sweet twist, and spread on crackers.

This fresh cheese is incredibly versatile. It can be eaten with bread or crackers or crumbled on top of salads. Try blending it with other cheeses such as ricotta, which is a similar but milder cheese, for lasagna, or combine it with yogurt, to make a savory dip. Or, incorporate it into any recipe that calls for soft, fresh cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon milk (whole pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Optional: fresh dill or chives (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. 

    Ingredients for farmer cheese on a wooden table
    The Spruce
  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the milk to a slow boil. Keep the heat at medium or medium-low; otherwise, you risk scorching the milk on the bottom of the pot.

    Milk being poured into a heavy-bottomed pot
    The Spruce
  3. When small, foamy bubbles begin to form on the milk, but it is not yet at a rolling boil, turn off the heat. If using a thermometer, the temperature will read about 190 F.

    Foamy bubbles begin to form on the milk
    The Spruce
  4. Add the vinegar and stir the milk. Curds will immediately begin to form.

    Curds start to form after vinegar is added to milk
    The Spruce
  5. Let the milk sit for 15 minutes.

    Milk sitting in a pot with curds 15 minutes
    The Spruce
  6. After 15 minutes, add any flavorings, such as finely chopped fresh herbs.

    Finely cut fresh herbs are to milk
    The Spruce
  7. Place a colander over a large bowl or pot. Drape either a dampened cheesecloth or thin dampened dish towel over the colander. Pour the curds into the cheesecloth. The whey (liquid) will drain and be collected in the bowl below, and the solid curds will be caught in the cheesecloth.

    Straining the curds using a cheesecloth
    The Spruce
  8. Lift the cheesecloth and wrap it around the curds, twisting and squeezing to remove as much moisture as possible.

    Wrapping the cheesecloth around the curds
    The Spruce
  9. After squeezing out the moisture, the curds for farmer cheese will be dry and crumbly. If you want a creamier texture, mix a little of the reserved whey back into the curds.

    Adding whey with a spoon over the curds
    The Spruce
  10. Add the salt and stir it together.

    Adding the salt to the curds
    The Spruce
  11. To shape the cheese, keep it wrapped in cheesecloth and form it into a mound on a plate. Set another plate on top and press the curds into a flat disc that is 1 to 2 inches tall. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so before removing the cheesecloth.

    Shaping the cheese into a smooth ball
    The Spruce
  12. To make a round ball, tie the cheesecloth with a length of butcher's twine, attach it to a shelf in the refrigerator, and suspend it over a bowl. Gravity will help shape the cheese into a ball.

    Suspending the cheesecloth over a bowl using a wooden spoon
    The Spruce

Tips

  • Do not use ultra-pasteurized milk for cheese making; the curd will not set. Ultra-pasteurized milk is not always labeled as such, but you can tell by the extremely long expiration (usually 30 to 90 days from purchase). Regular pasteurized milk works fine, but raw milk, if it's available in your area, works the best.
  • Don't toss the whey. Instead, use the leftover whey for bread making, add it to soups, or use it as a protein boost in smoothies (and, of course, you can feed it to the chickens). Store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Recipe Variation

  • For similar variations of this style of homemade cheese, try recipes for Italian ricotta, Indian paneer, or French fromage blanc (literally "white cheese").

How to Store Farmer Cheese

Farmer cheese will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. You can also freeze farmer cheese. Upon defrosting it, however, the texture won't be exactly the same; it will be a bit more crumbly. Before freezing, wrap it in plastic food wrap and then freeze in a zip-close storage bag.