Next in the series of things Joanna made for holiday parties that are now only marginally seasonally appropriate: Farmer’s Cheese for my friend’s Hannukah party. He wanted to make (along with his latkes) syrniki, which are essentially slightly sweet fried cheese pancakes from Ukraine. But to do it properly, he needed homemade farmer’s cheese and was unfortunately going out of town the weekend before. But never fear, I was willing to try my hand at making cheese from scratch — and only moderately worried that I would kill everyone with rancid cheese.
And it worked! Color me shocked. This is a surprisingly simple recipe (which I got from a blog called Natasha’s Kitchen), though you do need to be willing to be able to devote some time to it every 12 hours for about 3 days. The cheese by itself is very, very mild and doesn’t have that much flavor, but was delicious in the pancakes (which I cannot take credit for — see this recipe if you want to make them). The cheese would also be good spread on toast or in a leafy green salad.
Time to make: 3 days
Creates about one-quart of cheese
1 gallon whole milk
1/2 gallon cultured buttermilk (at room temperature)
At least one giant pot (I needed two)
Strainer (optional, but helpful)
Let’s make some cheese
Day 1: Let milk and butter milk sit out for 7 hours. Pour into a large pot and place in oven at 100 degrees (or lowest oven setting) for an hour. Remove from oven and let sit in a warm room for 24 hours.
Day 2: The milk/buttermilk mixture should now have a thick consistency — the original cook describes it as “It pulls when you lift it up with a spoon and should not really stick to your spoon if you insert it vertically and remove it straight out.” Don’t stir the mixture. Heat it on the stove at a low/medium low temperature for forty minutes or until hot. Don’t stir. Remove from burner and let sit in a warm room for 12 to 24 hours.
Day 3: The cheese should be starting to separate from whey at this point. Place back on burner over medium heat for 40 minutes. While cooking, set up cheese cloth over a mesh strainer. If you want to save the whey, do this over a large bowl. If like me you have no use from whey, you could also do it over your sink. Pour cheese mixture into cheese cloth. I did it in two batches because I had two pots.
Tie the cheese cloth up, and leave hanging in strainer over sink for next 6 hours. Every so often, get impatient and squeeze whey out by hand.
Future days : Keep chilled in refrigerator until used. One option for use: