Homemade Farmers Cheese tastes creamy, fresh, flavourful, healthy and delicious. It is a great alternative to yogurt in the morning, mixed into oatmeal or added to smoothies. You can use it to make cookies, pancakes, and bread. It’s a great substitute for cottage cheese or ricotta.
This post contains amazon affiliate links which means if you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I will receive a small commission.
This post was originally published on May 28, 2015 but it is now updated with more information.
Farmers Cheese aka Fromage Frais aka Quark aka Творог (pronounced Tvorog) is a dairy product that is extremely popular in Eastern Europe and for some reason is almost unheard of in North America.
Farmers Cheese is believed to have almost magical properties in Russia. Are you sick? Have some Farmers Cheese. Are you trying to lose weight? Have some Farmers Cheese.
Are you trying to gain weight? Have some Farmers Cheese. Yes, it sounds contradictory, but it actually makes sense as Farmers Cheese comes in variety of fat content from 0% to 30% or even 40% fat.
It’s called Farmers Cheese in North America, but I personally don’t like the name and association with the word cheese. In Russian, Farmers Cheese is more closely associated with yogurt. It has lots of calcium, minerals and is quite healthy. In fact, it’s one of the most popular breakfast items in Russia. It is also used for many recipes like cookies, cakes, breads and many more.
When I came to Canada almost two decades ago, there were only a handful of Russian stores in the area and it was very inconvenient to go there just to by Farmers Cheese. My dad, both of my grandmas and later I started making it at home.
Now I can buy it at pretty much any regular big grocery store. Most of my local supermarkets sell it. Even my local Costco has it for a very good price too.
And, of course, there are tons of Russian stores around that not only sell this product, but they sell a variety of different kinds of Farmers Cheese and you can try them all before buying the one you like.
There are many different techniques and variations for making Homemade Farmers Cheese. Some people use different ratio of milk and buttermilk, some omit buttermilk and use other curdling ingredients. Some use different heating techniques.
This is how my grandma used to make Farmers Cheese and this is how I make it to this day (unless I make my Instant Pot Farmers Cheese and then I use a very different recipe which is going to be posted in the near future).
Ingredients to make Homemade Farmers Cheese
You only need 2 ingredients!
- Whole milk (4 litres)
- Buttermilk (1 litre)
How to make Farmers Cheese
It is not difficult to make. In fact, it’s one of those things that even a novice could make without failing, but it takes a long time.
Step 1: Mix the milk and buttermilk and leave it at room temperature for 24 hours. Don’t worry about milk spoiling, buttermilk actually prevents the milk from spoiling and in turn it starts the coagulating process.
Step 2: Heat up the thickened mixture by putting the pot in a very hot oven and leave it there until the mixture starts curdling, you can see lots of curds and there is a distinct separation from clear yellow whey. This takes between 15 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.
Step 3: While the pot is in the oven, it is time to get everything else prepared. Get a very large sieve or a colander. You may need to use two if the sieve isn’t big enough. Line the sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth leaving quite a lot of it hanging over the sides. Place the lined sieve over a big bowl or a pot to catch all the whey. Also get a string ready.
Step 4: The next step is a bit messy as you need to strain the homemade farmers cheese. I usually do it in the sink, this way it doesn’t splash all over my counter when I pour the curdled mixture from a very large pot into a sieve.
Step 5: Once all the whey is strained and the curds are in the cheesecloth, gather the sides and tie them with a string really well. Hang the cheesecloth bundle(s) over a sink or bowls (if you’d like to use the whey after) to collect the whey and leave for a few hours until farmers cheese is drained to your liking. I prefer mine to be on the dryer side so I leave it to to drain overnight. And no, it won’t spoil overnight, I’ve done it dozens of time.
And there you have it. Is it difficult? No. Just mix, heat and strain. But it takes a couple of days to make.
Is it worth it? Definitely! It tastes creamy, fresh, flavourful and delicious. Also, it’s super impressive when you tell someone that you made your own cheese!!
Recipes to use Homemade Farmers Cheese
- Farmers Cheese Cookies
- Russian Cheesecake
- Apple Meringue Tart
- Pumpkin Ricotta Cookies (use Farmers Cheese instead of Ricotta)
- Strawberry Rhubarb Bars Recipe (use Farmers Cheese instead of Ricotta)
- Instant Pot Greek Salad Egg Bites (with oven instructions) (use Farmers Cheese instead of Ricotta)
Note: in most recipes (not all but most) you can use Ricotta and Farmers Cheese interchangeably.
How to eat Farmers Cheese
In Russia, we eat Farmers Cheese in the morning with a bit of sour cream and jam.
- Mix with a bit of your favourite sweetener and stuff into Russian Crepes for a sweet dessert.
- Mix with salt, minced garlic, chopped herbs and stuff into Russian Crepes for a delicious appetizer or lunch.
- Mix with yogurt or mayo, add some garlic, and herbs for a delicious dip. Add some cheddar cheese and bake it for a hot dip.
- Use in lasagna instead of ricotta.
- Mix with cream cheese when making cheesecake.
- Make pancakes with it, just mix with the eggs and buttermilk before adding the flour.
- Stuff chicken breasts with it.
Homemade Farmers Cheese
- 4 litres Whole milk
- 1 litre Buttermilk
- Combine the milk and buttermilk in a large ovenproof pot.
- Leave on the counter for 24 hours until the mixture is thick like a yogurt.
- Preheat the oven to 450F.
- Place the pot with the milk mixture into the oven for about 15-45 minutes. See note below.
- When the mixture starts to separate into curds and whey, take it out of the oven to cool a little bit, so that it's easier to handle. OR turn the oven off and leave the pot to cool in the oven.
- Line a very large colander/strainer/sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth leaving a lot of it hanging over the sides.
- Place the lined colander over a large pot or bowl to catch the strained whey.
- Pour the mixture from the pot into the colander to strain.
- Once the cheesecloth is full, gather the overhanging sides and tie with a string.
- Hang the cheesecloth bundle for a few hours or overnight over a bowl to catch the draining whey if you'd like to use it after or over a sink if you don't want ot use the whey.
- After all the whey is drained, take the Homemade Farmers Cheese out of the cheesecloth and enjoy.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.
- Alternatively, you could heat the oven to 450F, turn it off, place the pot into the oven and leave it overnight. Resulting homemade farmers cheese will be creamier, smoother and less thick. It's tastier for just eating it for breakfast. If you are thinking of baking with it, then the method I described earlier is better as it yields dryer result
Mention or tag @Imagelicious
Should the milk and buttermilk in the initial step be covered it uncovered? I have a cat who normally stays off the counter, but I’m worried that a huge pot of milk will be too tempting.
I usually cover loosely just so that there’s no dust on it
Do you have the instant pot version of this?
Not yet but I am working on it.
Wouldn’t the addition of salt to the liquid mixture before putting it in the oven make it better? I’m a real salt-lover and wonder if it wouldn’t just add that extra little something!
You could add salt if you’d like. Traditional farmers cheese is neutral in flavour, no sugar, no salt. Just like plain yogurt.
This is the stuff we use for cheesecake, pretty much like you use cream cheese. Actually it’s been used for it’s healing properties too. If have an sprained ankle, sunburn, insect bite or mastitis while nursing.
Hep, totally agree. In fact, this post was inspired by the Russian cheesecake. I made it a few weeks ago and realized that not all of my readers would have access to buy the farmers cheese at their store, so decided to make it first. Recipe for the cheesecake is coming to the site soon
Isabelle @ Crumb says
I love this kind of fresh spreadable cheese and am always annoyed at how hard it is to find outside of speciality shops, so this recipe is definitely going on my list of weekend projects to try this summer. I’ve never tried making cheese before, mostly because I always assumed that it would involve a really long and complicated process, but your recipe makes it sound so easy!
I hope you try it and I hope you like it! Just a note of caution, it’s not a complicated process, but it’s a long process. So, start making it at least 24 hours before you want to have it.
Sofia // From the Land we Live on says
I was lucky to grow up with my mom and grandmother making tvorog (they use kefir vs. buttermilk). I didn’t appreciate it until I moved out and didn’t have any! I haven’t made it myself yet (a whole batch is too much for me. It’ll go bad and my husband doesn’t eat it) but I’m hoping that your post and wonderful pictures encourage others to try it! The store bought stuff just isn’t the same.
There’s another method that makes smaller amount and it’s even easier to make. I just like this one since this is how my grandma made it.
The other method is to take one buttermilk in its tetrapak container. Place it in a deep pot filled with water and boil for 30-45 minutes (right in the package), then let it cool and strain.
Laureen Fox says
For years now I’ve been curious about making my own cheese. Your method makes it look so easy.
That’s because it is easy 🙂 It just takes a long time… But I’d like to mention, that it’s closer to ricotta than to cheese in the sense of cheddar/mozzarella for example