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Farmer’s (curd) cheese using only 1 ingredient!

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been wanting to bake a good old Polish cheesecake, only to find that getting my hands on the main ingredient: curd or farmer’s cheese in Sydney was as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. There have been times when I’d seen it, only to forget where it was or the Polish delis had run out, and so the cheesecake making remained on an infinite hold.

I thought my best bet to figure out a way of perhaps making it myself or at least finding a substitute would be to ask Mum, because I recall Grandma used to make her own buttermilk and a bunch of different cheeses at home, and Mum makes a killer cheesecake! And sure enough, she knew. All it takes is 1 ingredient, 10 minutes cooking time and a little patience… and that ingredient? Buttermilk! As you can imagine, the cheese is different from the widely available ricotta in that it is low in fat (2%) and has a slight sour tang to it. Lovely.

Although the yield is not high, 1 litre of buttermilk makes about 200g curd cheese, it’s just perfect for us and a small cheesecake to share. Having said that, I have eaten the last batch spread on slices of rye sourdough, drizzled with honey. Like in the old days, when I was a little girl back in the 19 hundreds, as I was reminded cheekily by a little boy recently…

Makes 200g

Farmer’s (curd) cheese

Any good quality buttermilk will be fine for this recipe. While it is advisable to use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the milk has reached 70C (160F), you should be able to see clearly when to turn the heat off – most of the cheese will have separated and the yellowish whey will be covering more than three quarters of the pan. The longer you leave the cheese to drain, the drier it will become, I recommend about 2 hours. Add a tablespoon of fresh cream to the cheese if you want it less crumbly. I use a large hospital grade gauze as my cheesecloth.

{Printable recipe}

For the curd cheese:

  • 1lt buttermilk
  • 1/2 m² cheesecloth

To make curd cheese: pour buttermilk into a 2lt capacity saucepan. Place over small heat and warm up, stirring occasionally until the buttermilk has reached 70C (160F) and the whey has clearly separated from the curd – see note above. Cover with a lid allow to cool to near room temperature.

Line a sieve with a cheesecloth. Place over a large bowl. Strain the cooled curd and whey mixture over the cloth, discard the whey. Gather the curd up in the cheesecloth and twist the overhanging cloth, squeezing out extra whey. Leave in a sieve or hang over the bowl using a chopstick threaded through the gathered cloth and allow to drain for up to 2 hours.

To store: remove cheese from the cloth (it should be a nice rustic ball), and transfer to a food safe container.

To serve: use for cheesecakes, dumpling and crepe fillings, crumbled over salads and spread on sourdough bread and drizzled with honey or your favourite fruit compote.

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34 comments

Bam's Kitchen February 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Wow. Only one ingredient and without any preservatives and so fresh. I will have to give this a try. I hope I can master the temperature requirements. BAM

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sara (Belly Rumbles) February 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Martyna, thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I love farmers’ curd cheese, it is used quite a lot in Latvian cooking. It is a hard to find item around my area, and I get sick of having to travel a great distance to acquire it.

I love the fact it is a one ingredient recipe! Are you starting to add one ingredient recipes to your usual 5 posts?

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waterfallsandcaribous February 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm

This is incredible. I can’t wait to try it – thanks for sharing!

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Courtney February 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I love this! I need to do this soon. What a great fresh idea.

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Rae Browne February 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Yeah! We’ve been making mozzarella at home. I’m super excited to try this next. Thanks!

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Lizzy (Good Things) February 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm

This is brilliant Martyna… and I have some buttermilk in the fridge. Thanks!

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Lizzy (Good Things) February 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I have decided this is the best thing since sliced bread!

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rsmacaalay February 15, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Looks like a cottage cheese, I would love to try this and use it in a cottage cheesecake recipe

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Three-Cookies February 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I’ve never heard of this cheese, or maybe it goes by a different name here. There are so many types of cheeses in this category. I wonder if its close to kwark, also sometimes called curd cheese. This cheese and the cheesecake must be the secret to long life “back in the 19 hundreds”:)

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Anna @ the shady pine February 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

How fascinating….one ingredient to get such a lovely cheese. I hope you post about the Polish cheesecake you make with it too.

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saffronandhoney February 16, 2012 at 2:16 am

So true! I often want to use farmer’s cheese in several Russian recipes and finding a good one is quite hard! This looks great and delicious.

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Sissi February 16, 2012 at 5:31 am

I have never heard of curd cheese made from buttermilk. Incredible! I always make it with milk.

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Wholesome Cook February 16, 2012 at 5:56 am

Do you add lemon juice or yoghurt?

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Sissi February 17, 2012 at 7:36 am

Hi, Martyna. If I have raw milk, I don’t add anything. I do just like my mum: I put it in a warm place (near the stove) and wait. It curdles at the end of the day if left at 25°C. It takes more if the temperature is lower.
If I have something they call in France “micro-filtered milk” which has less bacteria than raw, but more than pasteurised (especially more taste!), I add a bit of rennet and really if I don’t have it (it’s not sold in every shop) I put 1 teaspoon lemon juice. However this version is the one I like the least. My favourite is just raw milk curdling on its own.
I must try making cheese with buttermilk one day! I think it’s a wonderful idea!

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Wholesome Cook February 17, 2012 at 7:52 am

That’s what my grandma used to do as well, use raw milk and set it aside to curdle, but as far as I know we can’t get raw milk here in Australia 🙁

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Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide February 16, 2012 at 9:41 am

Very cool. I always have buttermilk on hand.

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Tim @ Chicken and Apples February 16, 2012 at 9:56 am

I think this may be the easiest recipe for farmer’s cheese I’ve ever seen. Even a lazy cook has no excuse to not have it on hand now. 😉

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Nami | Just One Cookbook February 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Very interesting. I have cheese cloth but I’ve never thought of making curd cheese myself before. I also assumed it’s difficult to make. What a great lesson I learned today.

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Purely.. Kay February 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I am amazed that you really only needed 1 ingredient for this. It looks absolutely delicious. I think I need to go out and get me some cheese cloth.. fast 🙂

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Sharon Lavin March 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Is the buttermilk obtained in cartons from a supermarket suitable for this recipe?

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Wholesome Cook March 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Yes, that’s the milk I used. Dairy Farmers brand in a navy carton.

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Nat March 23, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Hi, where can I but the temperature gauge in Sydney? Thanks

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Martyna @ Wholesome Cook March 24, 2013 at 7:15 am

Hi Nat, most kitchenware stores would have them. And I’m pretty sure you could pick one up from Myer, David Jones or even Target and KMart.

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Jen July 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I tried this, my curd didn’t separate from the whey. It definitely hit 160 degrees too. I have a candy thermometer. I used raw buttermilk (raw milk leftover after making butter). What did I do wrong?!?

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The Gourmet Grocer August 24, 2015 at 9:53 pm

Amazing. I never thought I can whip up cheese with buttermilk. Thanks for the step by step how-to.

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wendee September 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm

hi martyna, i love this recipe, i tried it right away.. if i dont use the cheesecloth to drain, thats still ok, it would be a bit watery + i can press it to get the water out.. and the whey is that what you call the water ? thanks w

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Martyna @ Wholesome Cook September 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Hi Wendee, yes, you can just press it out on a fine-mesh sieve. You’re correct – whey is the water. It comes to the phrase drain away.. 🙂

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wendee December 12, 2015 at 4:45 pm

I really appreciate finding your recipe !

1. is it ok to keep it on a warmer temperature once it reaches 170 , i find it helps to firm the cheese more , the curds are tighter and easier to lift.. as i am not using the cheesecloth to drain. i lift/spoon it into a bowl, cool and refrigerate. do you think that affects the nutrition ?
2. the whey: in your recipe it said to discard- it can be reused for soups etc as per one of your postings correct ?

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monika December 31, 2016 at 8:18 am

is there any way to make this using goats’ milk? I would first have to make the goats’ milk into “butter”-goat milk…Any ideas on how? MAybe simply leave it on the counter for a few days to leave it to sour?

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Martyna @ Wholesome Cook December 31, 2016 at 10:36 am

Czesc Monika, to make buttermilk, you could add 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the goat’s milk, stir and set aside for 10 minutes, stir again and then try following the recipe as above. I hope it works for you!

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