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.
- 1/2 gallon milk (whole pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- Optional: fresh dill or chives (finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Gather the ingredients.
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.
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.
Add the vinegar and stir the milk. Curds will immediately begin to form.
Let the milk sit for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, add any flavorings, such as finely chopped fresh herbs.
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.
Lift the cheesecloth and wrap it around the curds, twisting and squeezing to remove as much moisture as possible.
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.
Add the salt and stir it together.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.