Homemade Farmer's Cheese
Year's ago cheese didn't come cut up into bricks and neatly packaged in disposable plastic wrapping. If the homemaker wanted to serve cheese to her family she would have to make it at home. Of course, in those days, you needed a milk cow, goat or other animal that produced milk suitable for human consumption or access to one.
Fortunately today, having a cow isn't necessary to produce homemade cheese at home. You can buy fresh or powdered milk at the store and both will work just fine for making farmer's cheese. If you have access to fresh farm milk, then that is even better.
I use powdered milk for a lot of things that need milk for cooking and baking. I will even use it on my cereal. It is shelf-stable and a great addition to my food storage, because I can buy several boxes to have on hand, so I never run out of milk. I still prefer almond milk for my coffee though 😉. I always keep several 4 lb. boxes of dry instant powdered milk and dry powdered buttermilk in my food storage pantry.
Farmer's cheese is quick and easy to make and the best thing about using powdered milk and buttermilk to make this is that both are fat-free so you can control how much fat is in your cheese by adding some type of fat to it. For a fat-free cheese just leave out the fat, but if you want a cheese that melts and stretches you will need to add some type of fat to this particular recipe, unless you are using a milk that already has fat in it.
This is not a "beautiful" cheese, but it is a delicious, edible cheese, perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches, quesedillas and homemade pizza. It slices fairly well, it "shreds" like crumbled Parmesan cheese and it melts. If you need a quick cheese for a meal this will fit the bill.
If you have a large enough stock pot you can make this all at one time. If not, just make half a batch of cheese at one time by cutting all the ingredients in half. DO NOT use a metal or aluminum stock pot or pan or utensils for this. The acid in the vinegar will cause a reaction and damage your pans. You CAN use stainless steel.
Combine the water, powdered milk (or omit the water and powdered milk and just use regular milk) in a large stock pot big enough to hold at least two gallons. Stir to combine until the the powdered milk is dissolved in the water. Cook over medium heat until your cooking thermometer says that the temperature of the milk is between 105-110 degrees.
At this point you need to stir in your chosen fat, unless you are using milk that already has fat in it. If so, you can omit this step. You can use margarine, butter, oil, etc. I have even used unflavored coconut oil. I only use 2 tbsp. of oil in my cheese because, I am on a low-fat diet. However, if you are not on a low-fat diet you could add more fat to your cheese, up to a 1/2 cup. If you only add a little fat you will have a dryer, firmer cheese. Adding more fat will result in a softer cheese.
Stir in 1/2 cup of vinegar with a wooden spoon. Keep stirring. You should see the milk start to curdle right away. Keep stirring until all of the milk is curdled and the water in the pot is yellow. If you need to, add more vinegar until all of the milk is curdled.
Drain the cheese into a colander. My pot was only a six quart pot, so I had to make the cheese in two separate batches. If you have do this, DON'T drain the whey (yellow water) from your pot. Just use a slotted spoon and scoop out the cheese curds into a colander lined with a thin towel or cheese cloth. Put the pot with the whey back on the stove and repeat the cheese making process again until you have curds. Then you can drain all of the whey.
Once you have made all of the cheese and drained it, rinse the cheese in LUKEWARM water for several minutes. Wrap it up in a thin towel or cheese cloth and squeeze the excess water out of it. Next, place it back in to the pot you cooked it in (I am all about less dishes to wash!).
Add the powdered buttermilk and enough salt to suit your taste. The powdered buttermilk will give this cheese a nice tangy flavor, but it will not taste like buttermilk. If you don't want to use the powdered butter milk, you could use some grated Parmesan cheese from a can or some cheddar cheese powder.
This is where you're creativity can benefit you, because you can add any type of flavorings, herbs, spices, etc. to make a delicious tasting cheese. Using clean hands, mix the cheese curds with your chosen flavorings. You want to mix this up thoroughly as the things you add is what gives your cheese it's flavor.
Once you have your cheese and flavorings all mixed up, it's time to put it into some type of mold if you want to be able to slice it and grate it. I use small plastic food containers a molds. Take a couple of handfuls of cheese and pressed it down FIRMLY into your mold using your hands.
Keep layering and pressing the cheese into the mold until you have all the cheese in the mold.
Now, we need to cover the cheese mold with plastic wrap and put a weight on it. I use another plastic container that fits inside of the bottom one. Then I find some heavy to put on top as my weight. My sugar canister works well for this step. Let this contraption sit on the counter for about an hour or two.
After it has sat for a while it is time to take of the weight, leave the cheese covered with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge to cool. Once the cheese has chilled it is ready to be removed from the mold and used in any recipe that calls for cheese. It will NOT be the same as a store bought block cheese, but you should be able to slice it and grate it just like you would regular store bought cheese.
Farmer's Cheese2 gallon of water
10 2/3 cups of powdered milk-OMIT the powdered milk and water if you are using regular milk. For regular milk you will need 2 gallons of milk.
1/2 to 3/4 cup vinegar
2-6 tbsp. of fat (oil, margarine, butter, etc)
1/2 c of powdered buttermilk
salt to taste
A cooking thermometer
Combine the water, powdered milk (or omit the powdered milk & water and use 2 gallons of regular milk) in a large stock pot big enough to hold at least two gallons. Stir to combine until the the powdered milk is dissolved in the water. Cook over medium heat until your cooking thermometer says that the temperature of the milk is between 105-110 degrees. Stir in your chosen fat. You can use margarine, butter, oil, etc.
Drain the cheese into a colander. Rinse the cheese in LUKEWARM water for several minutes. Wrap it up in a thin towel or cheese cloth and squeeze the excess water out of it. Next, place it back in to the pot you cooked it in. Add the powdered buttermilk (or cheddar cheese powder or grated Parmesan from a can) and enough salt to suit your taste. Using clean hands, mix the cheese curds with your chosen flavorings.
Take a couple of handfuls of cheese and pressed it down FIRMLY into your mold using your hands. Keep layering and pressing the cheese into the mold until you have all the cheese in the mold. Cover the cheese mold with plastic wrap and put a weight on it. Let this contraption sit on the counter for about an hour or two.
Remove the weight. Place the cheese in in the refrigerator to cool. Once it is is cold it is ready to be removed from the mold and sliced or grated and used in any recipe calling for cheese. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. This stores for about a week in the refrigerator or a couple of months in the freezer.