Note: *You may need a little organic lemon or lime juice (up to 1/4 cup) to add a little acid when cutting the curds & whey. **If you do not have any cultured raw dairy on hand you can use 1/2 cup of the organic lemon or lime juice to cut the whey from the curds but I prefer to use the cultured dairy to get a higher yield of cheese!
- In a heavy-bottomed large (TALL IS BEST- REALLY TALL) pot, heat the milk til you see tiny bubbles form on top and smell the sweetness of the milk begin to rise. Keep the heat at medium or medium-low, otherwise, you risk scorching the milk on the bottom of the pot or boiling it and causing it to rise and overflow and create a HUGE MESS! *never leave the milk unattended on the stove*
- When small, foamy bubbles begin to form on the surface of the milk, but it is not yet at a rolling boil, pour in the entire yogurt/buttermilk jar and TURN OFF the heat. STIR the cultured dairy into the milk while scraping the bottom of the pan.
- Leave the pan to cool and you will see that the curds and the whey begin to separate. The curds will form a cake on top and float over the whey. Give this cooling process a couple of hours. *This does not require any attention. Feel free to manage other household chores at this time.*
- IF YOU DO NOT WITNESS a water whey separating from the curds in the first 4-5 minutes, you can add the lemon or lime juice and stir the milk. You will notice curds immediately beginning to form. Let the mixture rest for a couple of hours and separate naturally.
- Place a large fine strainer over a deep pot or you can use a stainless steel colander. Drape either dampened cheesecloth or a thin dampened dish towel over the colander if you do not have a fine strainer. Pour the curds into the cheesecloth. The whey (liquid) will drain and be collected in the bowl below and the solids curds will be caught in the cheesecloth.
- Lift the cheesecloth up and wrap it around the curds, twisting and squeezing to remove as much moisture as possible. After squeezing out the moisture, the curds for the farmer's cheese will need to be pressed out. Make sure you are reserving all the whey that you press out! If you want a creamier texture, mix a little of the reserved whey back into the curds later.
- NOW- you can season and then press out the curds or wait and season them later for a different flavor profile. If you intend to fry these up in coconut oil to make a nice cheese snack, season them now. You can also make baked cheese snacks so season them NOW if this is your intention.
- To shape the cheese, keep it wrapped in cheesecloth and form it into a flat circle on a plate. FILL the pan you heated the milk in with water to soak the pan and set it on top of the pressed cheese wrapped in a cloth to press the curds into a flat disc. Leave the pan on the curds over night (if you do this after dinner) or for the day to allow all the fluid to separate form the curds. After 8-12 hours, remove the pan and pour out the fluid from the plate into the sink. I like to move the curds to another plate of the same form. Cover and refrigerate for the day or night if possible- or at least an hour or so before removing cheesecloth.
- NOW you are ready to season the cheese with fresh herb pastes, salt, olive oil or we can now cook the cheese into a delicious snack! OR MAKE PANEER!
- After you season it *if this is what you prefer* you can make it into a pretty shape. To make a round ball, tie the cheesecloth with a length of butcher's twine, tie it to a shelf in the refrigerator and suspend it over a bowl. You will yield enough cheese to make a nice herb cheese ball and still have some left to do other things with.
- You can use this as a crumbly topping on your salads, use it in a veggie noodle lasagna, cut it and fry it in coconut oil to make a delicious fried cheese snack...for starters!
- FRY OR BAKE- if you want to make a delicious snack or salad topper you can shallow fry them in coconut oil in a cast iron pan or you can shape them into bite sizes and place them on an oven stone lined with parchment (I prefer stone bar pan) and then bake these at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. *ONCE BAKED OR FRIED these delicious bites will keep in the fridge up to 10-15 days* **warm up in the toaster oven**
- Farmer's cheese will keep up to a week in the refrigerator. Use it as a spread, in recipes or as you would use cream cheese or cottage cheese.
Don't Give Whey the Boot!
Don't toss the whey! That MEDICINE that has been drained from the curds is the coveted WHEY PROTEIN! This is the REAL DEAL! I use a fine small hand strainer to clean out any unpalatable particles as I jar into mason jar quarts. THIS IS UNADULTURATED PROTEIN!
Drink it warm or drink it cold as a workout recovery drink. It's excellent to use to cook into rice, for soup bases, to add fluid to whatever you are cooking in lieu of water on the stove.