Cut it, crumble it, or spread it, farmer’s cheese is firm enough to hold its shape, yet soft enough to blend. This unaged white cheese is versatile to use in baked items, savory recipes, cooked dishes, and served fresh in salads.
If this is not a product that’s easy to find at your local grocery store you may need to use a similar alternative. There is probably a suitable creamy alternative in your fridge already. The product you choose may depend on what you are cooking or baking.
Here, we’ll guide you through all the best farmer’s cheese substitutes to ensure your dish is a delicious success.
What is Farmer’s Cheese?
Farmer’s cheese, also referred to as farmer cheese, can be made from cow, goat, or sheep milk. Vegan alternatives can even be made from soy milk. Milk, acid, and bacterial culture are combined causing the milk to separate into solid and liquid parts known as curds and whey.
The solid curds are strained out and pressed to remove excess moisture, giving you fresh white cheese. There can however be slightly different styles of manufacturing which may result in some versions being crumblier, wetter, or denser than others. The flavor is, however, pretty consistent throughout the various types with a tangy, mild nature that is suitable to use in sweet and savory applications.
One unique thing about the product is that it is 99% free of lactose, so if you have a sensitivity and can only handle lactose in very small amounts, this is an ideal option for you.
How to Use Farmer’s Cheese
The cheese is popular in Eastern European cuisine for pierogi fillings. Similarly, it is used in pasta fillings, chicken, vegetables, and Indian dishes including curry.
It can be eaten uncooked, added to salads, spread on toast or crackers, with fruit, and as a dip blended with other ingredients. In desserts or sweet recipes, you can add them to baked goods, cheesecake, and pastry fillings.
Best Farmer’s Cheese Replacement
#1. DIY Farmer’s Cheese
There are a number of different ways to make farmer’s cheese so if it’s something you plan on using often, try out a few recipes and choose the one you like most. It’s best to use good quality dairy when making any cheese.
An easy way to make homemade farmer’s cheese is to slowly heat up 8 cups of whole milk on the stovetop at medium heat. Once small bubbles form on top just before reaching boiling point, switch the heat off and add one-quarter cup white vinegar. Stir well to combine the mixture and leave it to sit.
You will notice that within 15 minutes the mixture will separate into curds and whey. Leave the curdled milk slightly longer if necessary. If you want to flavor it, add some chives or spices.
Next, drain the mixture in cheesecloth, collecting the solid curds in the cloth and letting the liquid runoff. Wrap and twist the cloth tightly at the top and squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Wrap the cloth in a rounded shape to sit for an hour if you would like a shaped cheese.
Your DIY product can be used measure for measure in any recipe as a substitute for farmer’s cheese. Add a little extra salt if needed.
Chevre is really just another name for goat cheese. It has a low lactose content and a similar texture and consistency to farmer’s cheese. These characteristics all make it a wonderful farmer’s cheese substitute. It does, however, have quite a strong flavor that intensifies as it ages, so using a fresh, unaged type would be the most suitable to use as an alternative.
Chevre is ideal to use in almost any recipe that requires a replacement, especially salads, pasta, and pizza. When using it on its own as a spread or blended into a dip you may want to add some other flavors to prevent the sharpness of the cheese from being too overwhelming.
Substitute tip: Start with a little less Chevre than farmer’s cheese required in your recipe. We recommend ¾ cup to replace 1 cup. From there add according to taste as the intensity may depend on the other flavors in your dish.
Neufchatel is traditionally a semi-soft French cheese. It has a salty, sharp, and almost nutty taste that intensifies when aged. A fresh variant is the best choice for a substitute since its taste and texture will be more similar compared to an aged product.
Neufchatel is firm and spreadable, however, the American version is somewhat softer than the traditional French product. American Neufchatel has a similar consistency to cream cheese with high moisture and low-fat content.
Substitute tip: Neufchatel is ideal to use in pasta, dips, frostings, toast spreads, and potato dishes.
#4. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta is made by re-cooking the whey left behind from the production of other cow’s milk, goat milk, or sheep’s milk cheeses.
Ricotta is softest when it is fresh and this is also the best version to use as a substitute. It can be aged, however aging ricotta gives it a firmer consistency and much stronger flavor which won’t be suitable as a neutral flavor replacement.
Fresh ricotta is ideal to use in sweet and savory dishes since it has a lower sodium content than other types of cheese and is less tangy.
Substitute tip: Substitute ricotta measure for measure. It is great as a pasta filling, in lasagne, pancakes, baked items, and other cooked dishes.
See more: Replacement for ricotta cheese
Feta cheese is a creamy Greek product made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk. It is brined, cured, and aged for four to six weeks, and has a crumbly texture. It has a salty flavor and some versions are flavored with pepper or olives.
Although it does not spread as smoothly as cream cheese, for example, it can still be thinly sliced or crumbled into wraps and sandwiches. It is popular for adding to salads, pasta dishes, pastries, vegetables, and chicken dishes.
#6. Queso Fresco
Just as noodles can be considered the Asian version of pasta, so queso fresco can be considered the Mexican version of farmer’s cheese. It can be used as a replacement, measure for measure, in almost any application.
Queso blanco means ‘white cheese’ and is essentially the same as queso fresco except that they may be made from different types of milk. The Mexican cheese has a mild salty taste and although it will soften when heated it does not melt.
Substitute tip: Queso blanco or queso fresco can be eaten with fresh fruit, salad, and blended to make cheesecake or crumbled over soups, vegetable dishes, and enchiladas.
#7. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese comes in dry and creamed versions. Creamed cottage cheese is smooth and creamy while dry cottage cheese has less moisture and is chunkier. You can use either version as a substitute depending on the desired texture of your dish.
Cottage cheese is fresh and unripened with a mild and slightly tangy and salty flavor. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes and is available in high, medium, and low-fat varieties. Lower-fat varieties don’t have a firm consistency and are better used for sauces, spreads, dips, frosting, and can be blended into soups and stews.
Substitute tip: When using chunky versions, drain off the liquid and blend the cheese until smooth in a blender or food processor to make it suitable for smooth dips, sauces, and spreads.
Paneer cheese is known for its use in Indian cuisine. This fresh cheese is soft but does not melt. It has a mild flavor that is not overly salty. Its consistency is firm enough to hold its shape, but it is not crumbly.
Paneer is actually very similar to tofu in the way it can be fried and used to replace protein in dishes. It is however made from dairy, so it is not vegan. Its neutral flavor makes it suitable as a substitute in most dishes.
Vegan and Dairy-Free Alternatives
Tofu is a soy product and comes in a soft, medium, or firm consistency. You can blend tofu to become creamy and smooth for spreads, dips, and vegan cheesecake. Alternatively, firm and extra-firm tofu can be fried, cut into blocks, and crumbled into dishes.
Tofu takes on other flavors very well which makes it ideal as a blank canvas for any flavor profile you want to create with spices, sauces, or sweet additions. Tofu lacks the tanginess of dairy cheeses. If you are missing this in your dish add a little lemon juice to bring an acidic note.
Farmer’s cheese is a wonderfully versatile ingredient suitable for a wide range of cooking applications. When choosing a substitute consider the density, texture, acidity, and saltiness required in your dish.
Goat cheese will offer a creamy texture while feta provides a firm crumbly and salty option. If your substitute is lacking in saltiness or acidity, you can always add a little extra salt or lemon juice to your dish to bring the perfect balance.
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