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So, you finally have a dairy animal on your homestead! You’ve mastered milking and learned how to make your own butter and maybe even yogurt. What comes next? Learning how to make cheese right in your own kitchen is a skill many homesteaders dream of learning. Let’s talk about the basic of cheese making and an easy recipe for you to try at home.

How Cheese is Made

In the most basic of terms, the process of cheese making means merely separating the solids from the liquids by adding a starter culture to fresh milk. The culture causes the lactose in the milk to be changed into lactic acid. The lactic acid then causes the milk to curdle, separating the solids and the liquids. Certain types of cheese require an additional enzyme to coagulate the milk even further. The cheese solids, or curds, will then be separated from the whey (the liquids) by cutting the cheese into pieces and then pressing it into a mold.

For some cheeses, there will be an extended aging time of anywhere from a month or two to years in some cases, depending on how long it takes to achieve the correct flavor and ripeness. Cheese making can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. Simple cheeses like cottage cheese and farmer’s cheese can easily be made at home.

Types of Milk Used in Cheese Making

The methods used during cheesemaking, from how the curds are cut and which enzyme is used, to how the cheese is aged, all have an impact on the final product, and what kind of cheese you end up with. The type of milk also plays an important part. While cow’s milk is probably the most common, sheep and goat milk (and even buffalo!) are also quite popular. The important thing is that the milk is high in the protein casein, which makes the curds. Although certain types of cheese are most commonly made with milk from a specific animal, you can make cheese from the milk of any dairy animal you have on your farm.

  • Goat’s Milk: Goat’s milk is widely used in France for making many different types of cheeses. Goat’s milk is lower in potassium, which makes it safer for folks who have kidney disorders. It is also lower in lactose, so it’s great for people who have issues digesting cow’s milk.
  • Sheep’s Milk: Sheep are not usually the first animal that comes to mind when you start thinking about getting a dairy animal on the homestead. And, in fact, their milk is not often consumed just for drinking because it is very high in lactose, making it harder to digest. However, many favorite and delicious kinds of cheese are made from sheep’s milk, including Feta and Manchego.
  • Cow’s Milk: Cow’s milk is probably the most versatile milk of all, as long as you don’t have issues digesting it. It contains just the right amount of protein and fat for making all sorts of dairy products, and of course just for drinking. Cow’s milk is used to make mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, and many more.

Making Farmer’s Cheese

You may know cheese by one of its many other names used in different regions of the globe. In India, it is called paneer. In Africa, they call it wagashi. Latin countries call it queso fresco or queso blanco. In fact, America’s cottage cheese, France’s fromage blanc, and Germany’s quark are all versions of the same cheese. The only differences are how much moisture is left in the cheese and which foods it’s served with.

If you have farm fresh milk, of course, that’s what you’ll want to use. It can come from a sheep, cow, or goat, and there will be a subtle difference in flavor depending on which one you have. You can even use milk from the grocery store, as long as it’s not ultra-pasteurized. You’ll need one gallon of milk to make about one pound of farmer’s cheese.

Rennet is often used to curdle the milk in cheese making, but in the case of farmer’s cheese, all you need is some lemon juice or vinegar. You will get a hint of the flavor from whichever one you choose. If that bothers you, you can also use citric acid (found in the canning section), which is almost flavorless.

Follow these steps to make your first batch of Farmer’s Cheese:
  • Gently heat one gallon of milk in a pan with a heavy bottom. Use a low setting and stir occasionally, so the milk doesn’t scald.
  • Once your milk reaches 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the heat. You can simply watch for the first signs of boiling (which occurs just above the 200-degree mark), or you can use a candy or cheese making thermometer.
  • Slowly add your curdling agent and watch carefully for when the milk begins to curdle. The exact amount you will need can vary depending on the properties of your milk. You’ll want to stop adding your curdling agent as soon as the curd form to avoid getting a sharp, tangy flavor. Let the pot sit for 20 minutes before moving on to the next step to allow the curds and weigh time to separate completely.
  • Line your colander with a piece of cheesecloth, set it inside a bowl, and pour your curds and why through it. There are lots of uses for whey, or you can simply give to your chickens, so don’t just pour it down the sink.
  • The next step is up to you. You can leave your cheese as is if you want it to be soft and spreadable. You could add salt and fresh herbs and spread it on soft bread or crackers. For cottage cheese, simply place the curds in a bowl with a bit of the whey. Or, if you want a slightly firmer cheese, tie the cheesecloth at the corners, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, and then hang it over a bowl to continue draining off the whey.

If you want a very firm cheese you can slice, place the cheesecloth wrapped curds and colander in your refrigerator overnight with a weight on top. Be sure to put a bowl underneath it to catch the whey. Try rolling your pressed cheese in cracked pepper of chopped herbs to serve on crackers.

Farmer’s Cheese is best eaten fresh. Use it up within a week to 10 days and store it in your refrigerator.

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This Easy DIY Shaving Cream Will Seriously Upgrade Your Shaving Experience

If you shave regularly, you probably know the side effects all too well: dry skin, ingrown hairs, and razor burn. Here’s some good news: you can make your own DIY shaving cream, and it will combat all of those issues. Homemade shaving cream is also more environmentally-friendly and wallet-friendly than commercial, store-bought shaving cream. What’s not to love?

There are plenty of DIY shaving cream recipes floating around online, but my personal favorite is also the simplest and easiest. It calls for just two ingredients: coconut oil and shea butter.

Yes, the same ingredients that regularly nourish your skin and hair can also be transformed into a smooth, easy-to-use shaving cream. This particular DIY shaving cream won’t foam – instead, it’s like a whipped cream that you apply directly to the skin.

Unlike most shaving creams, this version basically doubles as a moisturizer, thanks to the power of coconut oil and shea butter. It’ll leave your skin softer, smoother, and razor-burn-free. It lasts well, and is easily stored.

The only downside? Shea butter and coconut oil are both pretty heavy oils, so if your pipes are easily clogged, be careful and use this shaving cream sparingly.

Onto the recipe!


1/4 cup Coconut oil
1/4 cup Shea butter

1. Combine equal parts coconut oil and shea butter in a stand-up mixer. If the ingredients are too solid to mix easily, melt them on the stovetop together first, then place the mixture in the refrigerator until it’s firm.
2. Whip the ingredients until the texture resembles whipped cream.
3. Store in a glass jar at room temperature.
4. To use, apply a thin layer on the skin.

You can also add extra ingredients to this “base,” if you’d like. Popular choices include extra virgin olive oil (1/8 cup) and baking soda (2 tsp), which lead to a lighter consistency. You can also add liquid castile soap (1/4 cup) and baking soda (2 tsp) if you prefer a foamy, soapy shaving product.

Other possible extras include your favorite essential oils, vitamin E oil, clay, honey, or aloe vera gel.

Keep in mind, though, that your choice of ingredients will impact the shelf life of the final product. If you use water-based ingredients, for example, the cream won’t last as long as long and may need to be kept in the fridge.

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