This mild, creamy, multiuse cheese is simply great to have on hand. It’s easy to make, easy to use, and easily one of my all-time favorite cheeses. Buttermilk gives it a slight tang, and the result is something between cream cheese and ricotta. Coagulation is swift and visually dramatic for this one, making it an impressive cheese to make with kids or for dinner guests (double the recipe for a crowd). The entire process is low-stress and gratifying, and takes about 30 minutes.I love dipping garden-grown veggies in a dish of farmers cheese, but you can also use it for baking — or spreading on breakfast pastries. Alternatively, you can shape the cheese into a log and cover it with dry herbs for a lovely and delicious gift to bring to a party.
• 4 cups whole cow’s milk, not ultra-pasteurized
• 1 cup cultured buttermilk
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon flake salt, or to taste
• Herbs, to taste (optional)
SuppliesMedium colander or mesh strainer
Large heat-resistant bowl for whey collection (optional)
Large mixing spoon
1. Line the colander or strainer with wet or dry cheesecloth. Place a bowl underneath if you want to collect the whey to use in cooking; otherwise, place the lined colander in your clean sink.
2. Pour the cow’s milk into the stockpot. Then, heat the milk over medium heat to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Stay close and monitor the temperature, stirring every few minutes to prevent a skin from forming on the surface of the milk. Reduce the heat if you feel any milk sticking to the bottom of the pot when you stir.
4. When the milk reaches 175 degrees, add the buttermilk and lemon juice and stir thoroughly. You should start seeing coagulation.
5. After you’ve completely stirred in the buttermilk and lemon juice, take the pot off the heat. Leave it undisturbed for 5 minutes.
6. After the 5 minutes are up, you’ll see a clear separation between curds and whey. Stir the curds gently for a few seconds to check out the change in texture, and then pour the curds and whey into the cloth-lined colander.
7. Allow the curds to drain until they resemble thick oatmeal; this should take just 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and herbs, if you’re using them.
8. Pack the cheese into a paper-lined dish to form it into a wheel.
9. Flip the dish onto a serving platter and peel away the paper. Your farmers cheese is now ready to eat!
Find more tips for beginning your cheese-making journey in Cheese-Making Basics for Beginners.
Claudia Lucero is the entrepreneur behind Urban Cheesecraft and DIY Cheese Kits, and a frequent speaker at MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS. This recipe is excerpted with permission from her book,One-Hour Cheese (Workman Publishing, 2017), available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store.