We’ve made a few recipes using something called “Farmer’s Cheese” or utilizing something termed “Tvorog”. Both cheese’s can be made at home and are pretty simple to make as a cheese. This will result in a “soft cheese” one that doesn’t require weeks (or months!) of aging. You can use this cheese in many ways:
- Plain, eat it as-is
- On a cracker (A neighbor’s favorite way of eating ours)
- Pierogi filling with potato, onion, and other ingredients
- Goose Feet Cookies
- Farmer’s Cheese Gnocchi
We started making this cheese at home after our friend from Russia gave us his mother’s recipe for Goose Feet Cookies. However we couldn’t find the cheese locally, but we were able to make some that then could be used to make the recipe. It’s quite delicious and fun to make cheese at home. Farmer’s cheese is sometimes called cottage cheese, but for the typical US person, this cheese will not be curdly and very liquid like that. It will be more firm, but still soft enough to be spreadable. Once made, it will last for up to a week covered in the fridge, but is best sooner than later. You can easily double this recipe too.
As a final tid-bit, making cheese requires good hygiene in the kitchen. Washing hands and cleaning utensils and equipment are key to success. If you’re ever unsure whether the cheese is safe, because it smells funky, develops mold or unexpected colors, then “When in doubt, throw it out”. We don’t use raw milk, a personal preference as we don’t want to risk the potential illness that can come with it. If you use raw milk with this recipe, it is at your own risk.
Time: 15-20 minutes heating Day 1; 48 hours waiting Day 2 and Day 3; 6-12 hours hanging Day 3/4
- 1/2 gallon whole milk (8 cups), batch-pasteurized NOT high-heat/ultra-pasteurized*
- 1/2 packet of cheese culture such as Fromage Blanc or Buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp. salt (Optional)
- Pot and lid, enough to hold 8 cups liquid x 2
- Colander/Strainer x 1
- Mixing Spoon x 1
- Slotted Spoon x 1
- Food thermometer x 1
- Butter Muslin or Cheesecloth x 1
- Butter Knife x 1
- Area to hang the cheese from (such as 2 chairs)
- Day 1: Ideally, do this in the morning or evening, whenever you have the most time to check on this process. Pour the milk into a pot on low to low-medium heat. Over the course of 15-20 minutes (or more if need be), bring the milk slowly to 86F, stirring the milk gently. Check the temperature frequently with the food thermometer. Once 86F is reached, turn off the stove and sprinkle the cheese culture over the top. Stir gently for 1-2 minutes. Cover the pot with the lid and place it out of the way on a counter or table. Keep at room temperature for 48 hours or 2 days roughly.
- Day 2 and Day 3: Set your alarm to remind you in 48 hours to check on your cheese if you think you might forget. During the next two days, check on the cheese at least once a day. The cheese will begin to curdle, turning more and more solid. Try not to disturb the cheese as you check it. Higher temperatures make this process go faster, and lower temperature can make it longer. Also if you double the recipe, the more milk mass takes longer to curdle, less mass takes less time. Day 3, the cheese should be relatively firm; when you stick a knife into it, it cuts cleanly and the cut remains “open”.
- Day 3/4 depending on when you started Day 1: With the cheese done, next is to reheat the cheese. Turn on the stovetop to low-medium, medium heat. Take a butter knife and cut lines across the cheese. Then turn and cut them again, making a checkered pattern. This helps to release whey. Place the pot on the stovetop and heat on medium until you see clear-to-green-ish off-colored liquid start seeping to the top. If your cheese is really firm, there may already be liquid when you cut the cheese. That’s the whey. Once you see it, remove the pot from the heat.
- Hanging the cheese: Line a colander with your cheesecloth folded over twice. Place the colander over an empty pot. Turn the cheese into the cheesecloth with a slotted spoon; let this drip some whey for about 1 hour. After an hour, fold the cheesecloth and turn it into a knot. Let this hang from a secure location (we use a broom between two chairs, hanging from the handle) over the empty pot for 6-12 hours. This hanging will determine how soft or solid your final cheese will be. If you want it softer, use a shorter hanging time. Every 3-4 hours, open the cheesecloth and scrap the cheese around. The outer layer will dry faster and can trap water, it will also let you see how solid your cheese it becoming. Continue to let it drip. About 1 hour before the end, or at the end if you want, add 1 tsp. salt and milk well. Your cheese is now ready and if salted will last about 1 week in the fridge max. Enjoy!
This plate shows about how much cheese we got from 1/2 gallon milk. It was suffice for 2 adults for 4 meals of gnocchi and pierogi. If it’s your first time making cheese, use this smaller recipe as a test batch to see how well you liked the final product. Note how firm it is, the taste, and the texture. Then next time, you can adjust various things like the ripening length, amount of milk for final product, and/or the length of hanging.
You can even change the cheese culture for a change in the taste. We typically use fromage blanc or buttermilk. Fromage blanc to us produces a mild-tasting cheese, one with soft flavor. The buttermilk culture tends to make a more flavorful cheese that does smell a lot like butter when ripening. You can also use the buttermilk culture if you decide to make cultured butter.
*Batch Pasteurized Milk:
Batch-pasteurized milk is milk that is not heated as high as ultra-pasteurized milk. The biggest difference you’ll see visually is often cream is present at the top of the milk jug when you open it as many companies that do batch pastuerization also have non-homogenized milk. This cream and lower pasteurized temperature milk help with cheese making due to preserving the proteins and fats more readily. Brands of milk that are batch-pasteurized include:
- Kalona milk (We use this as it’s most readily available locally; we have made cream cheese, halloumi, farmer’s cheese, and butter successfully)
- Alexandre Family Farm milk (labelled as Vat-pasteurized)
- Origin A2 milk (labelled as low-heat pasteurized)
There’s many brands, so try to find one that’s labelled like above with “Batch” “Vat” pasteurized or low-heat pasteurized.
**Resources for finding Cheese Supplies:
- Cheese Cultures at Cheesemaking.com
- Food Thermometer, Cheesecloth at Walmart, Target, or other local stores; also on Cheesemaking.com and Amazon.com
Note: We are not being paid for the links out to businesses and their websites or mentioning these companies. The above are recommendations based on our personal household use of these products and/or where they can be sourced.