Cheese – it’s mysterious, delicious and intimidating! But, it doesn’t have to be, intimidating that is: forget the cultures, rennet or dark caves. If you’re a newbie cheese maker, this is a great recipe for getting your feet wet and has lots of room for creativity!
I hadn’t set out to make cheese yesterday morning, but my broken refrigerator decided it would be a good idea to curdle the milk i’d intended to become yogurt. It was still sweet, but heating to yogurt temp was just separating the curds from the whey – which is the first step to making cheese! So, i went for it. Farmer’s cheese is a fairly bland cheese, can get too dry and crumbly and doesn’t melt…. but it can be really delicious especially when you spice it up some! I like to add finely diced garlic, lots of salt and ground hot pepper and rosemary. The combo is delicious! You’ll end up with way more whey than cheese, so if you have hogs or chickens they’ll be your best friends for a day or you can save some as a sipping drink that packs a protein punch. I always freeze a ice cube tray full of it as well to use in lacto fermentation projects. No waste!
- 1 gallon milk – raw or pasteurized, skim or whole. *Whole will make a much tastier cheese.
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (can also use white or white wine vinegar)
- T each salt and ground herbs of your choice
- 2 Large pots
- Cheesecloth or old bandanna
- Something heavy
No thermometer required! Heat your milk to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and add vinegar. The milk should begin separating/curdling right away. You want t0 fully separate the whey from the curds (whey should be yellowish clear, not milky looking). Once separating, pour the whey and curds into your colander lined with cheesecloth over another large pot (you could do this over the sink, but why waste all that useful whey??). Stir in salt and herbs to the curds, then tie up the cheesecloth with a twisting motion to press out whey. Place your ‘something heavy’ over the bundle and allow to drain. Don’t over drain or this cheese will be TOO dry. I almost always over press – do some experimenting.
Yum! This cheese makes a lovely appetizer and fries well for some extra fun. Don’t be intimidated by cheesemaking – try it out! Have fun with it!
Thanks to Self Reliance Magazine for featuring this recipe in their first print edition! You may also want to check out these books for more awesome cheese making information:
Have you made cheese before? Were you nervous your “first time?”
137 Responses to Farmer’s Cheese – Easiest Homemade Cheese Recipe
Hmmmm…I’ve been thinking of trying to make cheese for some time now. I think this recipe looks like something I might be able to handle – I make yogourt anyway, so maybe this whole process isn’t as tricky as I always have thought. I’m going to give this a go!
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Wow! Great cheese first attempt. Added homegrown lemon verbena and lemon basil. Thanks so much for posting!
Great!! Thanks for letting me know how yours tuned out. Sounds yummy!
I am so anxious to try this! Thank you for the recipe
Can you use milk that is turning sour?
Yes…. but it will taste a bit sour 😉
yes, and if you want it less sour add 1 cup of honey as you heat it up. I like making cheese this way, using the vinegar means you can avoid using the Rennet from animals..although the vegetable rennet does okay, I prefer vinegar.
Does the vinager leave the vinager taste in the cheese? And what type vinager is best to use? I also didn’t know you could use pasturized milk? .
No, it won’t taste like vinegar. However, I would recommend using either ordinary distilled vinegar or white-wine vinegar (or lemon juice!) rather than red-wine vinegar, as red will turn it a rather un-appetizing color. If you make your cheese too dry, add honey and rosewater to it. This is an old –*old,* as in late-medieval — Catalonian recipe called “angel’s breath,” and it tastes fabulous on slices of apple or pear, or on toasted English muffins.
WOW. That is a wonderful tip! Thank you.
Ellen, this is fascinating. Is there a link where I can learn about this recipe? i.e. How much honey? How much rosewater?
I’m a little confused – recipe says to separate the whey from the curds but then it says to add the whey & the curds to the collander??
hi, Rosalie – sorry this is confusing. What i meant is that you add the vinegar and the curds and whey WILL separate. The milk separates, becoming curds and whey. Once this first separation is complete, you pour the curds/whey together into a cheese cloth lined colander, which keeps the curds in the cloth and allows the whey to pass through, thus separating them. Make sense ?
Can i use apple cider vinegar?
Yes you can! I make Aged Cheddar with a press; ricotta cheese and Parmesan. However, I accidently made Farmers cheese when I was evaporating some milk that I noticed was JUST STARTING to turn sour–meaning it was STILL drinkable. This is the BEST TIME to turn it into Farmers cheese as the milk is starting to produce lactic acid. It is then that you really don’t need to add lemon juice nor vinegar, and it turns out a very nice clean cheese. I have tried adding vinegar before, and it turns out a little sour for my taste. I made Farmers cheese just last night out of milk that was starting to sour. However, there is a stopping point to how sour the milk should be. Just remember–if it is “starting” to turn sour, it is perfect if you can still drink it. Then, you can still EAT it.
Hello, I am new to making cheese. I made farmer’s cheese from Kefir which I think I left on the counter a day too long. It’s very strong. What can I do at this point to make it “lighter” to eat? Thanks
san herbs…it is called Paneer in India. You can cut them in cubes and fry them and cook with other vegetables and spices…yum…
You can always use the farmers cheese mix with cream cheese , egg, sugar to taste,vanilla
and use it for a filler in crepes–wrap as envelope put into a grease baking 8×8 pan, and top with some butter,bake for 30 minutes at 350 covered.Not a diet recipe.
On the farm we had LOTS of natural milk; mom made this all the time; dad built a press for her and she made blintzes with the filling you described. Have never found farmer’s cheese in the US grocery stores so it was fantastic to find this recipe. Dzekuje.
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Hi thanks for the recipe and maybe this is a dumb question. There are no times on this recipe, how long should each step take?
It’s kind of a ‘feel’ sort of thing. When you add the vinegar the milk separates almost immediately. The pressing part is more a matter of how much liquid you want out. The more you press out, the dryer the cheese (better for frying, not as good for just eating)… so i can’t really give you set times. I don’t even know how long it takes for water to boil 😉
I hope that helps.
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I have dairy allergies. Could you do the same thing with coconut milk?
I could use a vegetable rennet. I would prefer not to though. Maybe vinegar would work?
Coconut milk is not milk. It will not work.
Also, almond milk, cashew milk, or milk of magnesia. Also not milk.
Basic Desert Crepe: 4eggs,1 cup of flour,1/2 c. of water, 1/2 c.of milk, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp melted butter, 2 tsp.sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla–I beat my egg and flour till it’s smooth,then whisk the milk,water slowly until incorporates, then add the rest of the ingredients.Use a small fry pan 9″ pile them up on a plate.Cover with damp paper towel so they don’t dry out.
This is a single recipe.I double mine.
Filling: 8 oz cream cheese, 1 lb. of farmers cheese,1 egg,1 tsp vanilla,sugar to taste,1/2 tsp salt.Mix in processor till smooth. Take about 1 tbsp a dollop on a crepe-roll in and tuck sides in put in a greased baking dish–after all are the dish,put slices of butter on top, Bake covered for 30 minutes at 350. Then serve up with thawed raspberries or whipping cream,ice cream. leftovers just heat up in a microwave for 1 min. Enjoy!
Out of one gallon of whole milk, approximately how much will this make? And before you start squeezing out the whey, do you let it cool down first or go right after the stove, while it’s hot?
Hmmm. let me know. (Note, i wrote this post a WHILE ago and haven’t made cheese in quite some time so i’m a bit rusty with my answers). How much will it make? Not much – a handful. I usually poured in the vinegar, let it separate, then pour it through a cheese cloth… usually once it’s cooled some. it’ll separate and won’t separate any further so i do it then. But i’m not afraid of burnign my fingers now and again 😉
I just made this! It was my first time making a cheese, and a lot of fun. I way over did the spices though. A head of garlic and a whole table spoon each of salt, red pepper, and rosemary is far to much for my taste. I used most of it mixed in with scrambled eggs, which was delicious. I’ll be making another batch tonight, half seasoned and half plain (for toast and such). Thank you so much for the recipe.
I am curious though, can you drink the whey?
Yes, of course! You can drink the whey, feed it to chickens or pigs, use it as a garden spray for certain pests and funguses, make biscuits with it – you name it!
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Just a warning to everyone about raw garlic. If you’re going to mix it with ANYTHING, be sure you use up the mixture within a couple of days because of the risk of botulism.
This caution applies to most root vegetables, since botulinum bacteria lives in the ground.
The cheese looks yummy and I’m going to have to try it – especially for my cheese-loving granddaughter.
seriously? there is a VERY SLIM chance of that……
I was also warned not to use raw garlic because of the naturally occurring bacteria in garlic. The advice was to use dried garlic and I imagine pickled garlic would be fine.
Yeah… unless your going to can this and hermetically seal it – there should be no risk of botulism.
The bacteria that creates the botulism toxin can only do so in the absence of oxygen. It is an obligate anaerobe. That’s why the primary way that people get botulism is by home canning something and either not reaching a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria or not having the appropriate PH to negate having to crank up the temperature high enough to kill the bacteria. Botulism is caused when clostridium botulinium bacterium (which IS everywhere) are in an environment with NO oxygen (which isn’t happening in your kitchen unless you are canning.) If this wasn’t the case then… well… we’d all have botulism.
Do you know how many calories are in this wonderful recipe. A lot like Mexican Panera cheese. Thank you for sharing Billie
When I have leftover whey from making homemade ricotta (which is pretty close to this) I use it in things like rice and bread or anything in which I might use milk or broth, but that the slight acidic taste won’t affect much.
I also use it for soup base or stew base.
Bookmarking this. Thank you so much!
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Do you taste the vinegar, or is it a “sweet ” cheese.
sweet or bland… i don’t taste the acv usually.
With the vinegar it’s not sweet but you don’t taste it. I actually prefer using lemon juice. It doesn’t separate as quickly and I have to spoon off the curds then add more juice and spoon more off again but it makes a creamier farmer cheese and about 2 balls of cheese. However, the last time I made it, it did have a lemon flavor in both the cheese and the whey (I used 2 large lemons) – though I really liked how it turned out! And since I like to use the whey in fruit smoothies for breakfast, it works!
I have seen this recipe using both fresh lemon juice and white vinegar. But I haven’t seen replies that say you can skim off the curds and add more lemon juice. That is very appealing to me bc I tried it with wv and only got about 1/2 to 1/3 c of cheese. Maybe I’ll be able to “squeeze” out a little more by adding more wv. Also, it wasn’t salty enough for me in my recipe by adding only a pinch of salt – this cheese definitely needs more salt. Thanks for this recipe. P.S. I’m Polish and we had Farmer’s cheese quite often.
Does T in this case mean teaspoon or tablespoon?? Thanks.
An upper case T is always tablespoon while lower case t is teaspoon.
Yes: T= Tablespoon t= teaspoon
Can you use buttermilk for a creamier thicker cheese?
Not sure… i think buttermilk is a different sort of animal
:the slightly sour liquid left after butter has been churned, used in baking or consumed as a drink.
I made it once, only with 3 qts milk and 1 cup buttermilk, it turned out good but I over pressed. Instead of herbs I used chopped jalapeño and cilantro.
NO! But you CAN use buttermilk instead of WV or Lemon juice. In fact, it is better.
The reason it does NOT work well for cheese is that most of the milk solids are left in the butter.(it is only 80% -82% fats) Cheese is mainly milk solids.
For creamy cheese add cream to your milk. You can make cheese from 0%fat skim milk up to 3.5 % whole milk or 4+% real raw milk or fortified cream added milk.
*dumb question* Once we add the ACV to the boiled milk, do we stir?
haha – yes, stir a bit. It will begin to break apart right away, give it a stir to mix in the ACV then let it sit.
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Cant wait to try this! What can you do with they whey though?
I am thinking to is kind of like butter milk . So use it a you would buttermilk .
iuse buttermilk in my recipe and it makes it alot more creamer
Drink it, feed it to the chickens, make whey biscuits: http://anaustinhomestead.blogspot.com/2009/11/whey-biscuits.html, add to kimchi to get it fermenting quicker, feed it to pigs, fertilize certain plants with it! Lots of options
You can make a very different kind of ‘cheese’ from the whey if you have lots of time and patience. Take the when and cook it down stirring almost constantly at a low temperature until it looks like a thick paste the color of brown sugar. It is used on crackers etc. It has a real Scandinavian name which I have a hard time pronouncing much less spelling but in the 60’s it was selling for about $6 a pound. Has a sweet/salt taste so you don’t use a lot of it at a time.
You can also use lemon juice to make this, has a much finer curd and I used it more for a spread type cheese with herbs.
It’s “Gjetost”, pronounced sorta like “YAY-toast”
Ann, You are making this “cheese” strictly from the whey? Thank you I am new to this.
This is awesome. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my milk since my son and I just don’t go through it fast enough. I want to make yogurt and kefir… but since those require starter cultures that I don’t have on hand… and I already have kombucha and fermented veggies bubbling away in the kitchen… I’m psyched to have mother option
You don’t need a starter culture for yogurt, Sara – you can just use some yogurt I make yogurt all the time and just use Nancy’s yogurt (any store bought yogurt that has real live cultures in it) I think i have a ‘make yogurt’ post on this blog somewhere 😉
I made this just this morning with sundried tomatoes and oregano. I’ve been debating making my own cheese for ages, ever since a friend who owns a bakery posted a mozzerella tutorial. This recipe was simple enough to get me over my hesitation and i just tasted the still warm cheese and it’s lovely!
Thanks for sharing a wonderfully simple recipe!
You’re so welcome! Glad you gave it a shot
I just tried this with two week old raw milk (it hadn’t started to separate yet, but I wouldn’t really have wanted to drink it. The flavor is actually really good. I did get it way too dry, which I’ll be more careful about next time. It’s a great way to deal with milk that’s gotten old enough that some people around here won’t drink it, but that isn’t really at the sour milk stage.
that is how the cheese is made in Austria too, you wait until it is sour before starting the cheese. Then my mom just started heating up the milk very slowly and it started to separate . Then she waited until the curd was all covered with whey before she cut it in cubes and drained it. A nice way of eating the cheese is if you chop some onions, chives, capers, mix in Hungarian Paprika , salt and pepper. Mix everything together and eat it on dark rye bread.
Instead of weighting it, has anyone tried balling the cheese and hanging it the way Provolone is done???
I love making this cheese, but I use yogurt to do it, as I frequently buy cases of whole milk organic yogurt from a discount foods place. It’s great with garlic and herbs mixed in before the cooking, to it becomes seasoned throughout. Can be made with the fruit or vanilla yogurts, too, for a great bagel spread. Cheesecakes are easy with this one, just leave overnight and press well so it’s drier.
I have made several kinds of cheese, most of them are all day projects that need to sit for a time. Making cheese that is quick, easy, and ready to eat is loads of fun!
This is excellent with raw goat milk. I get a little over a pound of cheese from a gallon of raw milk. you can also use the whey to replace part or all of the liquid in a bread recipe it works very well in my bread maker, adds protein and gives a good flavor.
I just found your site today and really enjoy it! Great recipes I can’t wait to try. This farmers cheese will be the first! I also have a food blog but I cook mainly with venison. I also like your elk recipe and may give that a try when I get back out west.
Delicious…but don’t try using it heavy cream, though. It just doesn’t fly. Learn from my failure! http://pixiespocket.com/2012/06/cheese-making-attempt-1-failure-into-soup.html
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Heavy cream doesn’t have enough protein to coagulate (curdle) into this cheese.
I USED to live overseas and when I couldn’t find ricotta or cottage chess which was often, w would use this method with powdered whole milk reconstituted. It made really wonderful lasagna.
What kind of cheese would this be like??? Cream cheese / mozzarella….
More like a drier cottage cheese.
Can u use white vinegar?
I’ve made a recipe similar to this except I used lemon juice instead of vinegar. Instead of pressing the cheese I just hang the cheese cloth around my cupboard knob with a bowl under to catch the whey. That way you never have to worry about it being to dry. Simply and easy. I usually do it at night so in the morning it’s ready. Yummy.
Made this last night with the family. Easy. Added 1T dried dill. The texture wasn’t ideal, but tonight we will have some lasagna with it.
Dumb question- at what point do you add veggies/spices? I feel lost after the draining part…..
Made this with my daycare kiddies and they LOVE IT!! Thank you for sharing this wonderful and easy recipe!!
Is it possible to use canned evaporated milk for this by adding water to bring it to regular milk?
I have made cheese similar to this from time to time. I use the whey from this or from kefir insted of buttermilk when making soda bread.
I Made This Cheese After Work Tonight.Added A Tbsp Of Tastefully Simple Dried Tomato Garlic Pesto Mix WhilE Boiling The MilK.Tasted Great.
Man this is so easy. The only hard part is not letting the milk scorch. The milk took a long time to come to a rolling boil….. then I new it was scorching….
What did you do to prevent that? Stirring slows down the cooking more doesn’t it?
I heat the milk with a lid on – which helps it heat up more quickly. Otherwise, lots of stirring. I usually scorch a little, too – and make my husband clean it up. ha!
Miranda, my mom always used the heaviest pot and had us kids stir. BTW, cute Corgi.
use two pots, put water in the first one so the second one floats. The water will boil and heat the 2nd more evenly and reduce scorching. Will still have to stir some but not as constant.
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For a quick, meatless dish we love to saute onions in butter, add in a package of egg noodles or pasta and crumble in the farmers cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Simple, quick and delicious! This one dates back to my grandmother and now my kids love it. I must try it with homemade farms cheese!!
Farmers cheese remids me of my Polish Babcia(grandma). I love it. Do you know if this recipe would work with soy milk, we have some dairy sensitivities in the family. I’d love to find a way to do cheese pierogi for them.
Has anyone made this into a sweet cheese by adding honey or brown sugar? I make all my own bread and sometimes like just a little sweet instead of butter.
So how about how long does the something heavy sit on the wrapped up curds? Just until it’s firm? Then refrigerate?
I’m sorry I’m just a bit confused it says seperate the way from the curds then it says to put both through the collander? But why did I seperate them then put them both into it together? Sorry never made cheese so this confuses me a little.
you add the vinegar and the lumps separate. you then pour the whey with lumps through the cheese cloth so that you just have the lumps, without the whey. make sense?
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Just made this cheese with half gallon of whole, store bought milk. I added fresh basic, chopped garlic, and chives from my newly awakening garden. Can’t wait to try it and spread it on celery for my 6 year old!!! Looks like I’ll have a cheese ball size hunk of fresh made cheese.
For Cortney, a bit later than useful, maybe…the way I would do it would be to lay my cheesecloth over my colander(actually I dispense with the colander and just lay the cheesecloth over my bowl) and pour the kettle-full of now-separated curds and whey into the bowl. Then I lift the corners of the cheesecloth, bring them together (a big rubber band works great) and hang the resulting ‘bag’ on a chopstick or wooden spoon inserted into two neighboring handles on my cupboards (no knobs to use), so the whey drips into the bowl, sometimes as long as overnight (I go to bed late!).
Looks easy peasy. Gonna make some tomorrow.
I remember my mom making chest at home when I was a little girl. I’m going to try this, it seems easy enough.
I mean cheese. Darn auto correct.
This is great. Thanks for the recipe. I do have a question and also a tip. My question is, does the milk really need to boil? Do we need this step to change the proteins in the milk? If not, it would be healthier to use raw milk that has not had it’s enzymes and amino acids destroyed.
My tip is this: the whey from this cheese in not viable for lacto-fermentation projects. While your food will still ferment, the whey will not be the reason. Whey that has been heated above 118 degrees is a dead product. Always use whey from raw milk that has not been pasteurized for lacto-fermentation.
About how long do you let drain. You didn’t give an estimated time.
Hi, Vicky – the length of time is totally up to you. The longer you drain/more your press the drier/harder the cheese. You want it drained enough to hold together and not be sopping wet, but as i mentioned in the post, if you drain/press to long/much it will be unpleasantly dry, though probably great for frying.
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Can almond milk be used?
Can you freeze this cheese once it is completed? How long of a fridge life does it have?
Yes, you can freeze it – fridge life will depend on how dry you make it, the dryer the longer it will last. But it makes a fairly small amount so we usually eat it up in a few days.
Good to know you can freeze it. I don’t go through it fast enough.
It just says T salt and herbs. How many T of each?
Ultimately: totally to taste. Enough salt to taste salty and act as a preservative, at least a T. Enough herbs to taste as herby as you’d like – more or less than a T
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My mother used to make me broiled farmers cheese with chives on top she would press it flat on a piece of aluminum foil and bowl sprinkle it with chives and broil it in the toaster oven. I can’t wait to make this and try to re-create it yummmm!!
This question may have already been asked, so I apologize in advance. Can I use lactose free milk with this recipe? Thanks!
i don’t know the answer…. but it seems doubtful. the proteins would be different.
Hi, thank you for all the cheese tips. Can you answer a short question for me.I tried making farmers cheese from an old W.I. cook book. It didn’t say to heat up my milk. I let the milk sour naturally then made the cheese draining the whey. It worked but I’m not sure if the flavour was as nice as it could have been. Is heating the milk necessary and why?
Heating the milk pasteurizes it. Other than that i’m not entirely sure. I am no cheese expert! I’m a beginner like most folks, but love this cheese for that reason. Natural fermentation works differently.
Hi. Is it one US gallon or one Canadian? I am in Canada and there is a difference in volume.
I just made a similar cheese using just plain kefir, no added ingredients. Worked great!
Lisa, What was your process for making it with Kefir? I made my farmer’s cheese from Kefir and it is a little strong. I think I left it on the counter (as curds and whey) a day too long. Thanks
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Wonder how this would be with honey, vanilla and walnuts as a spread for Muffins? Anyone try this?
When do you add the heroes? Thank you for sharing this recipe. Tomorrow I will make cheese for the first time!
When do you add the heroes? Thank you for sharing this recipe. Tomorrow I will make cheese for the first time!
Sorry that should be herbes.
Sorry for the delayed response! I usually add the herbs before pressing. After the initial drain, i stir in some herbs and salt then press it.
I use: 1 gal milk
1/2 gal butter milk
2 T vinigar
It makes 3 pounds of twarog
Yes! I hang my cheese in butter muslin all the time. I think it makes it easier to control the amount of liquid left in the cheese.
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Exactly Long should it drain before it gets too dry?
It’s kind of a ‘feel for it’ thing – long enough that it’s firm but not so long that it’s too dry.
try it once and then alter your next batch accordinly. Sorry that’s so imprecise 😉
Thank you, I made it previously from another recipe( that I could not find again today). I tried your recipe today and it is wayyyy better than my first try. I am definitely going to try it with the honey next time.
Thanks so much for this recipe! I made it with leftover “milk” that I had from all of our Christmas cooking. I only had about a half a gallon of whole milk, so I added our leftover heavy cream, and some prepared powdered milk to make it a whole gallon of milk. I added 1 Tbsp honey and some Himalayan sea salt to taste after I separated the curds. This turned out so delicious! I am currently eating it on some toast with strawberry jam! I will say I was nervous about accidentally letting it get too dry since I’ve never made cheese before but once I twisted my cheesecloth to “hand express” all the liquid I could and I only hung it up for maybe 30 minutes and it turned out perfect. What a wonderful introduction to cheese making. Thank you so much for this recipe!
Can I make this with Lactaid whole milk? Lactose intolerant.
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