Sunday, April 14, 2024

ECHO EATS: Easy Farm Cheese Made at Home

A half gallon of Springhouse Creamery milk in a glass return bottle. Photo by C. Tamulonis, 12/2023.

We’ve all been there, gazing at the expiration date on a bottle of milk, wondering, do I really have to throw it out? The answer thankfully is no — if it’s not too far gone. 

Generally, milk is still good around five days after the expiration date depending on how it is stored and if it has not been opened. Warmer temperatures in the refrigerator will make your milk go bad faster. 

Milk should be stored at 34 F to 38 F. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days.

Ultra-pasteurized milk will last longer. Non-fat, skim and low-fat milk go bad faster. Use your eyes and nose to determine if it is usable. If you think it’s on the brink of being not good to drink, you can make yogurt, use it in baking or follow this simple farm cheese recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon of milk (Springhouse Creamery milk is great for this)
  • ½ cup of white vinegar or lemon juice (a freshly squeezed lemon is best)
  • A pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Pour your milk into a heavy-bottomed pot, add your pinch of salt and simmer while stirring occasionally
  2. Once you see some bubbles (do not bring to a full-on boil) slowly stir in your vinegar (or lemon juice) and take off heat
  3. Once the milk is curdled, line a colander over a bowl (to catch the whey) with a clean cheesecloth and strain
  4. Squeeze out any excess whey from the cheese 
  5. Add seasoning to taste such as pepper or herbs and refrigerate in a sealed container
Squeeze out the whey! Photo by C. Tamulonis, 12/2023.
You should wind up with a ball of farm cheese. Keep refrigerated for up to one week. Photo by C. Tamulonis, 12/2023.
Farm cheese curds ready to be seasoned and formed into a ball. Photo by C. Tamulonis, 12/2023.

Noshing notes: Use farm cheese in sandwiches or as a filling for ravioli, pierogies and blintzes. It melts well. 

Suggested sides: Salami from Alpine, crackers, a pale ale and good company.

Waste not, want not: Use the whey (excess liquid) in your garden or compost pile, or dilute with water to feed your indoor plants. You can also use it as a cheese brine or feed it to your chickens. It freezes well.

Cybele Tamulonis
Cybele Tamulonis, Contributing Writer

Cybele is a writer and editor with more than 16 years in the publishing industry. An avid reader, you can usually find her with the latest new book release from the local library. She currently resides on a farm in Hardwick with her husband and four children. In her spare time, she writes historical fiction specific to New Jersey.