After struggling with making Mascarpone for over a month with limited success, I was scared to try to make farmer’s cheese. It sounded simple enough: Boil milk. Add in vinegar. Stir. Drain. Serve. What could go wrong? Well, as luck would have it, for once, nothing went wrong!
I googled on the internet for farmer’s cheese and found instructions for a recipe.
I cut it down from ½ gallon to 1 pint (16 oz., basically two 8-oz. servings of whole milk, 150 calories per cup with 8 grams of fat and 8 grams of protein). The recipe called for ¼ cup (4 T) of white vinegar to the ½ gallon of milk (8 cups). I used about 1 T of vinegar to 2 cups of milk.
I let the milk come to a frothy boil that was just barely rolling. Then as soon as it really got moving (it happens quickly), I removed it from the heat, put in the vinegar, and stirred. Almost immediately, curds formed.
When the vinegar went in, there was a yellowing of the milk as I often see with acidulants.
I draped some cheese cloth over a colander and, over the sink, poured the liquid and curds into the net. Afterwards, I set the colander on a plate to catch any remaining liquid.
The cheese was ready to eat immediately. But wait! Although it was spongy, fluffy, and super moist and milky, it was lacking in flavor.
Nothing a sprinkle of Sicilian sea salt wouldn’t help. I bounced the curds around in the pinch of salt and the flavor of fresh, full milk came alive. My farmer’s cheese was delicious served as a “cottage cheese” with a dusting of Texas dried basil on top and a side of sliced strawberries. Farmer’s cheese can also be further drained, pressed, and dried for various usages. It is excellent as a filling for blintzes, as a key ingredient in baked farmer’s cheese and cheese latkes, and in lasagna in lieu of ricotta.
While Mascarpone was not such an immediate success and also seemed rather costly for the yield, farmer’s cheese seems like an excellent option for the DIY thrifty chef, particularly one who wants an extremely fresh cheese or one based on milk with certain specifications such as organic or cholov yisroel kosher.