Friday, October 31, 2014

Home Made Farmer's Cheese

Farmer’s Cheese is a delicious cheese used quite frequently in Polish cuisine, 
especially in baked goods such as the sweet pierogi,  cheese cakes or the sweet crepes found in our books.

During our visits to Polish heritage festivals and during our many programs, we’re often asked what is Farmer’s Cheese and where can it be purchased.  The answers are simple…Farmer’s Cheese is a white cheese, (in Polish called Twar√≥g) with a very unique, mild, somewhat salty flavor.  Reminiscent of Feta cheese, it is essentially a pressed cheese since the curds are often squeezed into a brick or ball to remove the excess liquid. 

Farmer’s Cheese can be purchased in many upscale grocery stores, especially around the holidays, and in most Eastern European deli’s.  But more importantly it can be made at home very easily.  It’s delicious, easy and it can be a fun project to do with the kids.

Here’s a recipe for making your own farmers cheese adapted from one of our favorite resources for Eastern European food: 

2 quarts pasteurized whole milk (do not use ultra-
         pasteurized milk)
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1½ teaspoons salt, or less to taste
Butter muslin or fine cheesecloth
Butcher's twine

1. Heat the Milk to 180 degrees - In a heavy pot, over low heat, slowly heat up the milk, stirring often, until it is just about to simmer (180 degrees)

2. Stir buttermilk into heated milk. Then stir in the vinegar.

3. Turn off the heat and very slowly stir until the milk begins   to separate into curds (solids) and whey (liquid).  Let sit        undisturbed for 10 minutes. 

4. Meanwhile, wet the butter muslin  or two layers of fine cheesecloth that is large enough to line a colander and hang over the sides. Place the muslin-lined colander over a bowl to catch any whey.

5. After the mixture has sat undisturbed for 10 minutes, use a skimmer or slotted spoon to ladle the curds into the cheesecloth. Allow the curds to drain for 10 minutes.

6. Gather the cheesecloth around the cheese curds into a ball and tie off at the top with the butcher’s twine, leaving two or three extra inches of twine at the ends of the knot. 

7. Tie the ends of the string to a wooden spoon or dowel, and hang the cheese curds over a pot or container to collect any remaining whey and continue draining for 30 minutes.  Squeeze the ball to remove any remaining liquid. 

8. Open the bundle and transfer the cheese curds into a bowl.  Break up the curds slightly and stir in the salt.  The stirring action will break up the cheese into dry curds.  Use your hands to then mold the cheese into a ball or brick shape, or just leave it crumbled.   Transfer to a nonmetallic storage container, cover and refrigerate. Use within 5 days.

Here is how Laura’s cheese looked when she finished – it did not take her long and it was quite easy.