Saturday, January 17, 2009

homemade farmer cheese

I found this recipe for homemade farmer cheese and decided to give it a try. I needed some for the cheese-filled crepes I plan to make for tomorrow's Croatian Grubtrotting dinner.

Farmer cheese is a fresh acid-set cheese (made without rennet) with several regional variants (Mexican queso and Indian paneer for example). As Harold McGee explains it, the caseins, or curd proteins, clump together in acid conditions and coagulate, while the whey proteins remain suspended in the liquid. As the milk's pH approaches 5.5 from the normal 6.5 there is loose clustering of the caseins, and around 4.7 the milk curdles (solidifies). This happens naturally when milk sours or can be induced by introducing acid-producing bacteria or, as in the case of this recipe, lemon juice.

Per the recipe, I brought a gallon of whole milk to a boil with a pinch of salt, turned off the heat (but left the pot on the burner) and then stirred in the juice of one lemon. It began curdling immediately.

After a few minutes it was heaving dramatically. Not sure whether that would have happened had I taken it off the hot burner. The aroma had changed from the sweetness of hot milk to something more savory and cheese-like, although still with the background sweetness.

After 10 minutes I strained out the curds and removed as much moisture as I could using cheesecloth. I can tell there's more that could be extracted with more effort or better technique but it's pretty firm. Tracey and I tasted it. It has a nice texture and a very mild flavor. It's really a blank slate.

I see from this page that ricotta cheese is made from the whey after curds have been extracted. I'm not sure whether it relies on rennet being used for curdling, though. Need to investigate this further. It's also used as the liquid in bread making. I think I'll save it.

I tasted the whey, never having had it before. It's not bad. This has some lemon juice in it, but it still tastes basically like milk. The body and mouth feel are different, of course.

This post is linked on
Farmer Cheese on Foodista

Update: This whey cannot be used for making ricotta because the albumin protein has already been precipitated out of the milk, according to

1 comment:

susie said...

Thanks for posting this with pictures and the outcome. I am just about to try that same recipe and wondered, after reading several other more complex recipes, if the lemon juice one would do the trick. It looks like yours worked great. I'm on my way!