|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 16g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||46%|
|Total Carbohydrate 23g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 25g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Farmer cheese is a mild white fresh cheese with a crumbly texture and subtle, milky flavor. It's super-easy to make at home—it requires just three ingredients and some patience. And because it isn't aged or pressed for a long period of time, you can make it and eat it on the same day. Once you start using this amazing cheese, you'll fall in love with its versatility and will incorporate it into countless recipes.
Farmer Cheese vs. Cottage Cheese vs. Ricotta
Farmer cheese, cottage cheese, and ricotta are all fresh cheeses made by curdling milk with an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid. Farmer cheese is typically dryer and firmer than both cottage cheese and ricotta.
How to Use Farmer Cheese
Incredibly versatile, farmer cheese can be eaten with bread or crackers or crumbled on top of salads. It is commonly used to make cheese blintzes, makes amazing stuffed pasta, and adds a lot of flavor and texture to lasagna and casseroles. You can also use it in dips, parfaits, and desserts. You can sub it for cottage cheese, and in recipes that don't require a silky texture, farmer cheese can take the place of ricotta or mascarpone in a pinch.
The Ingredients You'll Need for Farmer Cheese
Milk: Milk is the most important ingredient in farmer cheese, so be sure to use a really good quality milk. Most recipes, including this one, call for cow's milk, but farmer cheese can also be made with goat's or sheep's milk.
Whole milk is best because it will give the cheese body and flavor, but 2 percent milk will also yield good results, even though the cheese will be thinner and less rich in flavor. We do not recommend using a fat percentage lower than 2 percent.
Use regular pasteurized milk, not ultra-pasteurized, which keeps the curds from setting (learn more about ultra-pasteurized milk below the recipe). If raw milk is available in your area and you feel comfortable using it, it also makes excellent farmer cheese.
Vinegar: Vinegar is used in this recipe to curdle the milk. Other fresh cheese recipes use lemon juice or citric acid.
Salt: A little kosher salt boosts the flavor of the cheese.
Your favorite add-ins: Since this is a fresh cheese, it can easily be customized with your favorite add-ins. 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. Add dry spices like black pepper, cayenne, or cumin to make wonderful dips.
The Equipment You'll Need to Make Farmer Cheese
- Large, heavy bottomed pot for heating the milk.
- Wooden or silicone spoon for stirring.
- Instant-read thermometer to take the milk's temperature.
- Colander for draining the cheese.
- Large bowl or pot for draining the cheese.
- Cheesecloth for draining and shaping the cheese.
- Two plates for shaping the cheese.
- Butcher's twine for shaping the cheese.
Click Play to See This Farmer Cheese Come Together
- Cheesemaking produces a lot of whey; this recipe creates about 6 cups of whey from 1/2 gallon of milk. Keep this high volume in mind when deciding which bowl to use for straining. Choose a large, deep bowl that will keep the bottom of the colander out of the liquid as it drains. (Use the leftover whey for bread making, add it to soups, or use it as a protein boost in smoothies.)
- If you have time, let the whey drain out of the cheese on its own before pressing out the excess. A good amount of whey will drip out of the cheesecloth in 5 minutes or so and reduce the amount of time you need to squeeze it.
- A thermometer really helps you figure out when the milk is at the perfect temperature for better curd development.
"I can attest that the recipe is a perfect introduction to cheesemaking. It was a simple process that takes less than an hour, and worked out perfectly. After an hour in the fridge, the cheese solidified more but still had a slight milky taste; another two hours, that flavor mellowed and created a very tasty cheese." —Colleen Graham
1/2 gallon pasteurized whole milk
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill (or chives), optional
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the milk to a slow boil, stirring occasionally. 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 in the milk, but it is not yet at a rolling boil, turn off the heat. If using a thermometer, the temperature should be about 190 F.
Slowly add the vinegar and stir the milk. Curds will immediately begin to form.
Let the milk sit for 15 minutes without stirring.
After 15 minutes, add the dill or chives, if using.
Place a colander over a large bowl or pot. Drape either a dampened cheesecloth or thin dampened clean dish towel over the colander. Pour the curds into the cheesecloth. The whey, all the liquid in the mixture, will drain and be collected in the bowl below, while 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 1 hour or so before removing the cheesecloth.
To make a ball, tie the cheesecloth with a length of butcher's twine, attach it to a shelf in the refrigerator or a wooden spoon, and suspend it over a bowl. Gravity will help shape the cheese into a ball and remove any excess moisture.
Enjoy the cheese as is or in any of your favorite recipes.
How to Store
- Farmer cheese will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.
- You can freeze farmer cheese; wrap in plastic wrap and place in a zip-top freezer bag. Upon thawing it, however, the texture will be a bit crumblier.
- If saving the whey, store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Why Not Use Ultra-Pasteurized Milk?
UHT, or ultra-high temperature processing, is a widely used food process that sterilizes dairy and other products like wine, fruit, and soy products to eliminate many forms of bacteria. Ultra-pasteurized milk is not always labeled as such; the extremely long expiration date—usually 30 to 90 days from purchase—is a good indication of it, however. When using UHT milk, the curd in the farmer cheese will not set because the proteins have been destabilized from the high temperature used in the process, and the calcium in the milk won't bond adequately to make the curds.