You know that moment when a certain taste or smell makes your heart skip a beat and brings you to THE happy place? This weekend I took such trip down the memory lane. It was very well planned, but nevertheless immensely pleasant.
No, I didn’t order my father’s favorite cologne from Russia (though I’m sure it’d do the job!). I prepared farmers cheese. Savoring it brought me right back to my babushka’s house. Sweet and nostalgic at the same time… Anyways, I hope I just planted that magic trigger into my kids’ hearts, and they would think of us every time they stumble upon this cheese.
It’s not very common in the States. The texture is really close to goat cheese though has a milder flavor. Making it is a journey by itself.
HOMEMADE FARMERS CHEESE
- 1 gallon (3.78 liters) raw milk
- 1/2 pint (236 ml) buttermilk
Yields about 700 g
Combine raw milk and buttermilk in a large jar (I used this 5 Liter glass canning jar). Leave at a room temperature to ferment for about 12 hours). Cover with a lid but don’t clamp it.
At the end of the fermentation some cream will separate and the mixture will become very thick.
Fill a large pot 1/2 way with water and warm it up on the stove.
When the water is almost boiling (about 180° F /approx. 80º C or higher) carefully place the jar into the pot. It doesn’t matter if the water is below the milk level. Let it heat up for about 10 minutes. The milk will start separating into curds (solid) and whey (liquid).
Line up a large colander with a large cheese cloth folded twice. Carefully dump the milk mixture into it and drain. You may have to use a spoon to empty the jar. Tie a knot with a cheese cloth and hang it above a dish or your kitchen sink for a couple hours.
If you don’t fully drain it, the farmers cheese will be very soft and tender, ready to eat.
A drier farmers cheese is perfect for cooking (I’m sure the recipes will follow).
Store in the fridge, also could be frozen for future use.
You can enjoy your farmers cheese as is, mix it up with milk or sour cream to spread it on your bagel, sweeten it with honey, or sugar, or jam, or bake with it, add it to salads, make it salty, add herbs. The options are unlimited and Russians have gazillion recipes to prove it!