Farmer Cheese

Farmer cheese with crackers, sliced cucumber, and grape tomatoes

The Spruce

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Refrigerate: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
40 Calories
2g Fat
3g Carbs
2g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 40
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 172mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 70mg 5%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 81mg 2%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Farmer cheese is a mild white fresh cheese that's not pressed or aged, with a crumbly texture and subtle flavor. Incredibly versatile, this type of cheese can be eaten with bread or crackers or crumbled on top of salads. It makes amazing stuffed pasta and adds a lot of flavor and texture to lasagna and casseroles. Blended with cheeses such as ricotta or full-fat yogurt, it can be made into dips or as part of parfaits and desserts. Farmer cheese can be used in place of ricotta or mascarpone in certain recipes in which there is no need for a silky texture in the end product—the curds of farmer cheese will indeed give a texture to all dishes in which it's used.

Easily made at home, it just requires some patience and three ingredients. Once you start using this amazing product, you'll fall in love with its versatility and will incorporate it into countless recipes. 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. Use it as you would cream cheese or goat cheese.

Before you start, be sure to have at hand a cheesecloth and good quality milk. Whole pasteurized—don't buy ultra-pasteurized—is best as the cream will have a lot of body and flavor, but 2 percent milk will also yield good results, even though the cheese will be thinner and less rich in flavor.

Ingredients

  • 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

  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 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.

    Foamy bubbles begin to form on the milk
    The Spruce
  4. Slowly 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 without stirring.

    Milk sitting in a pot with curds 15 minutes
    The Spruce
  6. After 15 minutes, add the optional herbs, if using.

    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 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. (Use the leftover whey for bread making, add it to soups, or use it as a protein boost in smoothies.)

    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 and remove any excess moisture. Enjoy the cheese in any of your favorite recipes.

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

Why Not Use Ultra-Pausterized Milk?

UHT or Ultra High-Temperature Processing is a widely used food process that sterilizes dairy and some other products like wine, fruit, and soy products to get rid of 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 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.

Regular pasteurized milk works fine, but raw milk, if it's available in your area, works the best.

How to Store Farmer Cheese

  • Farmer cheese will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.
  • Freeze farmer cheese wrapped in plastic food wrap and then placed in a zip-top storage bag. Upon thawing it, however, the texture won't be exactly the same but a bit crumblier.
  • If saving the whey, store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.