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Farmer's cheese is a simple, fresh cheese which is used in a variety of ways in many cultures. It is also sometimes referred to as pot cheese, farmer cheese, or improperly, as "farmers cheese." It can sometimes be difficult to find this cheese in stores, because it has classically been made on dairy farms for personal use. Some farms sell the cheese to customers, and it can also be made at home.
When this is made, milk is curdled to make cottage cheese, and the curds are ladled into cheesecloth and strained for several hours in a cool place. Some cooks leave the cheese relatively loose and crumbly, while others prefer to compress the cheese by squeezing the cheesecloth. The resulting cheese has a very mild, slightly creamy flavor, and it can be used as a filling in various dishes, a spread, and a component in a variety of other foods.
Cream cheese is similar to basic farmer's cheese, as is ricotta, although ricotta is made differently. All three of these cheeses can be substituted for each other in recipes, but it's best to stick with minimally processed cream cheese, rather than the heavily stabilized and extremely smooth types which are designed for use as spreads. Some people make this cheese at home by simply straining cottage cheese to remove the whey, although more ambitious cooks can make their own from scratch.
When making farmer's cheese at home, it's important to make sure to keep the working environment clean. This cheese is very low in acidity, and it can pick up a variety of bacteria which can cause people to get sick. Make sure to wash all utensils and use fresh cheesecloth. When hanging the cheese to drain, consider hanging it in the refrigerator. Although refrigerated cheese will take longer to drain than cheese drained at room temperature, it is less likely to pick up harmful bacteria, making it safer to eat.
This cheese generally keeps less than a week under refrigeration. It is not designed to be aged, and it will pick up a colorful assortment of molds and bacteria if it is kept around too long. This light, soft, simple cheese is designed for rapid consumption. It can be crumbled onto salads or mixed with herbs to make it into a spread which can be used for snacks and sandwiches. Fresh farmer's cheese can also be eaten plain, and many people who have access to dairy-fresh versions enjoy eating this cheese as a snack.
Most of the recipes on the internet are way more complex than need be.
1. Take a jug of milk and remove 1/2 cup milk from it.
2. Put about 2 tbs of sour cream inside of the jug.
3. Let it sit on the counter, unrefrigerated for a couple of days.
4. Remove lid from jug, place jug in a large pot of water with enough water to reach at least half way up the jug. Bring water to boil, let it boil for about 20 minutes.
5. Carefully slosh the jug around to mix it a bit.
6. Pour contents into a cheese cloth-lined colander and let it sit for a couple of hours.
The only dirty dish is the colander. Store the cheese in an airtight container in the fridge and it keeps about a week.
It's really tasty stuff.
I once tried to make farmers cheese with skim milk, in hopes of making it a low fat cheese. I have to confess it did not work quite as well as when you use milk that has at least two percent milk fat, although I am not an expert on it, maybe someone else knows what I did wrong.
Some friends of mine once tried to make homemade farmers cheese in college, and it really was pretty simple. It truly does not keep for very long, though, so I recommend not making any unless there is a specific thing for which you're planning to make it.
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