How to Make Homemade ‘Farmer’s Cheese’

cartons of buttermilk in the stock pot

This is one of the easiest cooked cheeses I have ever made and I am excited so share this with you, especially if you have NEVER made cheese before. The recipe I give is a bit different than what you would find in recipes online. After doing some research, I discovered that ‘Farmer’s Cheese’ refers to any kind of unripened cheese by adding bacterial starter or rennet to acidify the milk. Farmer’s Cheese can be made with milk from cows, sheep or goats. The cheese I make is easy because buttermilk is already acidic so all I do is to add some heat before draining the cooked milk. This recipe is easy too because I cook the buttermilk in the carton while it sits in a tall pot of water. The milk cooks until it reaches 160 degrees, then it’s drained on a cheese cloth-lined sieve set above a bowl and cooled in the refrigerator. I then take the cheese out of the sieve and put it in a storage container and it is done! Easy Cheese!

This is a great cheese because it loves variation: the cheese can be soft, moist and scoopable or if left to drain longer, the cheese will become dry, grainy and spreadable. I love this cheese because it’s delicious and useful- I sprinkle it on my salad greens or stir it into my omelets or pasta. I add herbs and salt and it becomes a delicious spread for my bagels or crackers or sandwiches. I add cream or creme fraiche and it becomes a dip for raw vegetables. I especially like this cheese because I always find myself with a half quart or so of buttermilk in my refrigerator after I’ve finished making pancakes or cake with the buttermilk. I now have a way of using up the leftover buttermilk that results in a tasty cheese.

checking the temperature

pouring the milk into the cheesecloth

Just as a note, there are a couple of other Buttermilk Cheese recipes from Ricki Carroll who wrote Home Cheese Making that are more involved. One is similar in technique to my recipe called  Dry Buttermilk Cheese and the other recipe involves rennet and becomes a Moist Buttermilk Cheese. Please consider my recipe the beginning to your foray into cheese-making.

draining of the cheese

the drained cheese

Buttermilk Cheese or Farmer’s Cheese

1 Quart of Buttermilk
Fine Sea Salt (optional)
Finely chopped Herbs (optional)
Equipment Needed- Cheese Cloth, Sieve or Metal Colander, Tall Stock Pot, Thermometer


1. If using an unopened carton of buttermilk, open it completely and then close it. (This allows you to easily check the temperature while it’s simmering).  Place the carton of buttermilk in the stock pot. Add enough water so it almost covers the carton. Place the stockpot on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and bring to a low simmer. In the meantime, cut out a large square of cheesecloth and place it on the sieve. Place this on top of a bowl.
2.  Check the temperature of the milk by opening the carton and placing the thermometer in the milk. Remove the milk from the heat once it reaches between 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Using oven mitts, carefully grasp the top of the carton and remove it from the water. Open the carton and pour it into the sieve . Bring the corners of the cheesecloth over the cheese and place it in the refrigerator to drain for about 6-12 hours until the curds have stopped dripping and it has reached your desired consistency.
3. Place the cheese in a bowl or storage container. Add salt and herbs to taste if desired. This cheese will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

curds and whey

the unwrapped and drained cheese

Quick Thanksgiving Hors d’Oeuvres- Toast slices of artisinal bread and place a dollop of the buttermilk cheese on the bread. Top with one of the following:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper and coarse salt.
  • Honey, black pepper and a slice of ripe pear.
  • Chopped sauteed greens with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon zest.
  • Sliced persimmon, arugula leaves and extra-virgin olive oil.

farmer's cheese on crostini with honey, apples, black pepper


Diane weatherholt

Posted October 04, 2012

Oh how wonderful and easy. Saved allot of money making my own just spent 6 dollars for some at Whole Foods and only spent 1.38 for a quart of buttermilk


    Posted October 08, 2012

    Glad you liked this idea! Cheers!

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