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It's hardly a secret - I love cheese.

My all-time favorite is extra sharp cheddar, but any cheese is worth my time!  After making yogurt last week, I had about a quart of milk left over.  So I made some cheese!

Farmer cheese, and its cousin paneer, is by far the simplest cheese to make - you don't need rennet, it doesn't need to age, and there are only two ingredients. 

Got milk?  Got vinegar?  Great - let's make cheese!

You will need:
~ 1 gallon milk (local, pasture-fed, raw milk is ideal)
~ 1/2 c. vinegar (any kind works - I prefer apple cider)
~ optional: 1 tbsp. Real Salt (for a harder cheese)

+ extra goodies, like rosemary and cracked black pepper

Alternately, you can use 1/2 gallon milk + 1/4 c. vinegar, or 1 quart milk + 1/8 c. vinegar... proportion is key!

First, heat your milk to a slow boil, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn.
Then, while the milk is still hot, stir & add your vinegar a little at a time - keep stirring!  The acidity of the vinegar will curdle the milk, separating it into curds and whey. 

Remember Miss Muffet, who sat on the tuffet?  This is what she was eating:
Nice.

Next, strain your curds & whey through a cheesecloth-lined colander.  Really, you can use any finely-woven cloth.  Or even a fine-meshed strainer.  I, inexplicably, had a cheese bag (I really don't know where it came from!) 

If you want to save your nutrient-rich whey, put a bowl beneath your strainer - once you've collected the whey, check out 16 Ways to Use Your Whey, then use it!

After straining, you'll have a pile of curds:
Here's where you've got some choices - it's like the Choose Your Own Adventure of cheese-making!

If you want soft, ricotta-like cheese:  Lift the edges of the cheesecloth and join the corners together, then twist the cloth to force water out from the ball of curds (see photo below).  You can suspend the ball for a while to let water drip out (also shown below).  Ta-da!  Farmer cheese.  Great in lasagna, on Bianca pizza, in blintzes... etc.

If you want a harder cheese that holds together:  Sprinkle 1 tbsp. salt (per gallon of milk used) over the curds and massage it in thoroughly.  This draws out moisture, and helps the cheese become more solid.  You can also add extra herbs and spices now, or roll the cheese in spices after it has solidified - or both!
Once you've had all the cheese-massaging you can handle:

Twist the cloth around the curds to squeeze out whey.
Hang the cheese-ball from a hook and put a bowl beneath to catch drips.

Alternately, you can put the wrapped cheese on a sloped surface (like a propped-up cutting board) and place another flat object on top, weighted down.  This will squeeze out excess moisture and give you a nice-looking cheese patty.
For both methods, wait a couple hours, and the cheese will hold its shape when you unwrap the cheesecloth.  I have an impatience issue (namely, hunger), so I only waited 20 minutes - note the crumbly-bits: 
Congratulations!  You just made paneer! 

Paneer cheese is delicious cubed and fried, as they often do in Indian cuisine, or raw on crackers. 

I went the raw paneer route, with a gourmet twist:  I coated the sliced cheese in cracked black pepper and freshly chopped rosemary.
So very, incredibly delicious on crackers... and quite beautiful too!
Thanks to Sandor Ellix Katz' fermentation bible, Wild Fermentation, for teaching me the Good Way!

If you try this, let me know how it goes!  Did you add any exciting herbs? Got any good recipes that use farmer cheese or paneer? 

You might like:
~ Yogurt Cheese: How-To
~ Make Yogurt!
~ Raw Milk Convert
~ Vegetarian, Flexitarian, Locavore... Intuitive Eating

Subscribe & share!

4/28/2012 17:49:05

<a href="http://hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-to-make-paneer.html">I just made paneer</a> this week too! Great minds think alike, right? But I did not know about the salt massage--I will definitely give it a try next time, as I want firm, sliceable cheese. Yours looks perfect!

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4/29/2012 02:08:18

I am so glad you shared this. I just met a nice woman with goats. She is going to teach me how to milk and keep them so I can hopefully get my own sometime soon and make my own cheese. I love how yours look and I imagine they taste wonderful. Thanks!

Heidi

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Deborah
5/1/2012 00:54:12

I'm feeling quite stupid at the moment because I'm trying to subscribe to your blog and can't find the place to do it.

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Scott
5/11/2012 08:50:45

Deborah,
In answer to your question, up top on the right says subscribe, underneath it has a place for your E-mail. Put in your e-mail and click subscribe underneath the email. There are no stupid questions. :)

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/11/2012 16:51:23

Thanks for fielding this, Scott!
Sorry it slipped through the cracks for me, Deborah - I hope you had luck subscribing!

Maggie
5/1/2012 14:37:19

Just made some this afternoon using a quart of goat milk, does a quart really make that little of cheese (guessing 1/4-1/3 c.)? Or did I do something wrong??

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/1/2012 18:36:45

Hey Maggie ~ No, I doubt you did anything wrong. Mine made a little more cheese than that (using a quart whole fat cow milk), but it was still a fairly small amount... maybe 1/2-2/3 c. of cheese. My guess is that the type of milk and fat content make a big difference.

Has anyone else tried this with goat milk? Any insight?

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5/11/2012 08:56:13

I've made it with goat milk (made a LOT of cheese with goat milk, really, since I basically got goats so I could make my own cheese, hehehe!) Depending on the type of cheese you can usually figure about one pound for each gallon of milk you use (a gallon being roughly 8 pounds of milk). I get the best yield making cultured soft cheese, but for this i was getting between a cup and two cups per gallon, depending on which goat it came from.

My best yields for fresh cheeses are when I use cultured buttermilk as a culture then mix in a but of the rennet that is available at most grocery stores (Junket rennet tablets, most grocers have it in the aisle with the puddings for making custard. this makes a soft creamcheese like spreadable cheese that is GREAT on bagels), using the vinegar almost always yields me less per gallon.

chrissy boord
5/11/2012 22:30:04

I used to make cheese from goats milk & rennet tablets, though I guess vinegar is more accessable now!!! Absolutely delicious mixed with fresh herbs. And goats milk cream is to die for!!! Not as yellow or fatty as cows cream, but so much nicer!!

5/7/2012 16:31:58

Very cool!! It looks amazing

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Lea
5/10/2012 14:02:04

I just made this recipe, cut in half. I added lemon zest (1 lemon), 2 tbsp sugar, and a little chopped mint. I'm thinking of making blintzes with it this weekend, with some cherry jam.

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/10/2012 20:36:37

Ooooh... that sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing, Lea!

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5/11/2012 05:20:23

Oh I am such a fan of your site. Another wonderful recipe and another I just have to try! Thank you:-) x

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5/11/2012 06:49:55

I need to try to make cheese. It's been on my list for a while now. This makes it look so easy. :)

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Juliana Pace
5/11/2012 09:15:34

Wow, I've gotta try this one. Looks yummy!

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5/11/2012 09:42:17

Your cheese looks beautiful!
Back when we had goats, we made a lot of paneer cheese. We used to roll it into logs about as big around as a ritz cracker, and roll it in herbs - garlic and basil is one of our fav's - it was a huge hit!

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Melodie Hatch
5/11/2012 12:00:00

Have you ever made this w/ rice/soy/coconut milk? We have some milk allergies but would like to try it.

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/11/2012 16:52:28

Melodie ~ I haven't tried it with non-dairy milks, but when you do I would love to hear about it!

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Diane Lange
5/11/2012 20:57:52

Can you make this cheese starting with dry milk or powders milk?

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/11/2012 21:47:20

Hey Diane ~ That's a good question - I've never tried it, but there may be someone out there who has. Anyone? Any advice for Diane?

If nothing else, give it a shot and let us know how it went!

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Dink
5/15/2012 02:15:45

I just stumbled on your site...Thank you SO much! When I was a child I helped my grandma with milking the cows and making butter...now I have my first dairy heiffer. Abby is a Jersey and will be bred to have her first calf May 2013. I am looking forward to learning a few ways to use her milk to make different products. Thanks again! I am looking forward to trying this!!

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Deb
5/17/2012 16:59:45

Anna,
Love your website! I made this cheese last Saturday and served it to my friends - a total hit. Is it a big deal to make a cheese bag? Do you know what material would be best or do you have any directions? Would appreciate it!
Thanks!

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
5/21/2012 18:48:41

Deb ~ I've never made a cheese bag, but my guess would be to use any sort of finely-toothed material like cheesecloth. From there, a simple sack construction with a drawstring should do the trick!
If you try this, let me know how it goes!

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9/28/2012 10:41:44

I never thought that we can make this kind of cheese using only milk, vinegar and salt. we used to make cheese but using some chemical ingredient in order for the transformation to happen. By the way this simple cheese is one of the most healthy cheese since their are no chemicals involved and no preservatives.

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Robin
10/17/2012 20:01:20

So, this might be a dumb question, but I don't have access to raw milk (boo), so what's going to happen if I use regular old ultra-pasturized from the grocery store? Anybody?
Thanks!

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Deb
10/18/2012 13:03:55

Greetings Robin,
Not a dumb question at all! I've made this recipe a number of times and, like you, don't have access to raw milk. I've been using the milk from the grocery store and it comes out fine! Good Luck!

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Deb
10/18/2012 13:04:23

Greetings Robin,
Not a dumb question at all! I've made this recipe a number of times and, like you, don't have access to raw milk. I've been using the milk from the grocery store and it comes out fine! Good Luck!

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Christine
12/29/2012 15:27:33

I can't have cheeses with culture/enzyme.. triggers migraine.
I'm so HAPPY to find this! It's hard to find cheeses in the stores without enzymes... or that you can trust to be totally enzyme free.
Now to the kitchen to play!!

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Christine
1/4/2013 15:17:32

Update. I had leftover milk and cream from my Christmas baking. I used 3 qts whole milk (just grocery store milk) ,1 qt heavy whipping cream, and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. I got 2 1/2 lbs of cheese!
It's wonderful! I did the salt massage, so I ended up with something that can spread or be sliced. It's mild, with a slight undertaste of salt and sweet.
I read somewhere that this will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. I knew I couldn't eat 2 1/2 lbs cheese in 3 days, so back to the internet. I found a recipe where you make little balls of cheese and put them in a jar with herbs, then cover the whole thing with olive oil. This is supposed to keep for about 3 weeks.
I have 3 jars of cheese balls in herbs and oil, and am enjoying like crazy the cheese left in the bowl!
Thank you for this recipe!

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Anna @ Patchwork Radicals
1/11/2013 10:22:31

Wow, that's a great idea - I love the oil marinade! I'll have to try that next time I make too much cheese to eat.

Christine
1/4/2013 15:17:51

Update. I had leftover milk and cream from my Christmas baking. I used 3 qts whole milk (just grocery store milk) ,1 qt heavy whipping cream, and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. I got 2 1/2 lbs of cheese!
It's wonderful! I did the salt massage, so I ended up with something that can spread or be sliced. It's mild, with a slight undertaste of salt and sweet.
I read somewhere that this will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. I knew I couldn't eat 2 1/2 lbs cheese in 3 days, so back to the internet. I found a recipe where you make little balls of cheese and put them in a jar with herbs, then cover the whole thing with olive oil. This is supposed to keep for about 3 weeks.
I have 3 jars of cheese balls in herbs and oil, and am enjoying like crazy the cheese left in the bowl!
Thank you for this recipe!

Reply
Christine
1/4/2013 15:18:48

Update. I had leftover milk and cream from my Christmas baking. I used 3 qts whole milk (just grocery store milk) ,1 qt heavy whipping cream, and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. I got 2 1/2 lbs of cheese!
It's wonderful! I did the salt massage, so I ended up with something that can spread or be sliced. It's mild, with a slight undertaste of salt and sweet.
I read somewhere that this will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. I knew I couldn't eat 2 1/2 lbs cheese in 3 days, so back to the internet. I found a recipe where you make little balls of cheese and put them in a jar with herbs, then cover the whole thing with olive oil. This is supposed to keep for about 3 weeks.
I have 3 jars of cheese balls in herbs and oil, and am enjoying like crazy the cheese left in the bowl!
Thank you for this recipe!

Reply
Christine
1/4/2013 15:19:01

Update. I had leftover milk and cream from my Christmas baking. I used 3 qts whole milk (just grocery store milk) ,1 qt heavy whipping cream, and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar. I got 2 1/2 lbs of cheese!
It's wonderful! I did the salt massage, so I ended up with something that can spread or be sliced. It's mild, with a slight undertaste of salt and sweet.
I read somewhere that this will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. I knew I couldn't eat 2 1/2 lbs cheese in 3 days, so back to the internet. I found a recipe where you make little balls of cheese and put them in a jar with herbs, then cover the whole thing with olive oil. This is supposed to keep for about 3 weeks.
I have 3 jars of cheese balls in herbs and oil, and am enjoying like crazy the cheese left in the bowl!
Thank you for this recipe!

Reply
Christine
1/4/2013 15:20:31

(sorry for the multiple posts!! It kept telling me there was an error and was not published... oops.)

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Alane
2/10/2013 23:23:17

What if you used skim or 2% milk?

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Leah
6/30/2013 23:33:42

Homogenized milk from the store doesn't work very well for cheese making. Because the milk doesn't separate it makes it harder to get curds. The lower the percentage of fat in the milk the less cheese you will get. Its best to use whole milk that's not homogenized. Myenburg goat milk is a good one if you don't have a dairy animal.

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4/17/2013 14:45:58

Ta-da! Farmer cheese. Great in lasagna, on Bianca pizza, in blintzes... etc.

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Leah
6/30/2013 23:24:42

I have made several batches of ricotta for lasagna using this method. Instead of squeezing the cheesecloth I just hung it until it quit dripping & transferred the clumps to a bowl before adding the salt. Then with a potato masher mash in the salt & add fresh milk back in until it reaches the desired consistency. It makes truly amazing lasagna & stuffed shells. I have dairy goats so all my cheeses are goat cheese but it's impossible to tell :)

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9/12/2013 11:42:15

I had about a quart of exploit abandoned beyond. So I made few cheese!

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9/30/2013 11:04:32

Next, screen your curds & whey exhausted a cheesecloth-lined riddle. Really, you can pay part finely-woven fiber. Or stratum a stunning-meshed strainer. I, inexplicably, had a cheese bag.

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Next, damage your curds & whey through a cheesecloth-lined colander. really, you can use any finely-woven part of cloth. Or even a fine-meshed strainer. I, inexplicably, had a dairy cheese bag (I actually don't understand where it came from!)

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