Homemade Farmer’s Cheese (Tvorog)

homemade farmers cheese.jpegTvorog, or farmer’s cheese, is used in many Russian sweets. Although you can easily buy it at the store, I prefer to make it myself. Reason being that I don’t want to spend $7 for one pound, and it’s nice to know your not eating any unnecessary chemicals.

Its very simple to make. Anyone can make this at home. It’s very hard to mess up. Just throw a few ingredients together, wait overnight, and in the morning, voilà! farmers cheese.

This is my mom’s recipe. I’ve been making homemade farmer’s cheese for years, and it always always turns out great.

I’ve got a couple yummy Russian recipes coming up using  farmer’s cheese, so be sure to check back soon. In the meantime, here’s the recipe to homemade farmers cheese, aka tvorog.

*Update: Here are some great recipes with farmers cheese:

Yields: 2 lb

Ingredients:

1 gallon whole milk

1 cup buttermilk, or kifir

You will also need some cheese cloth to strain the farmers cheese.

If you’r making it overnight, start around 8pm. The whole process usually takes 16-18 hours.

Add the gallon of milk in a large pot, and let it warm up on a stove over medium-low heat. Don’t let it get hot! just lukewarm.

Turn off the range, and add 1 cup buttermilk, stir, and let it sit overnight with the lid on.

In the morning, (around 10ish depending on how warm/cold your house is) it should have a pudding like consistency, if not, let it sit for another hour or so.

Set it over medium-low heat for 1.5-2 hours uncovered. The cheese will start to curdle and rise to the top.

homemade farmer's cheese

Fold the cheese cloth into 4 layers. Set a strainer over a large pot, or you can use an over the sink strainer if your not going to use the whey.  Put the cheese cloth over the strainer and pour the liquid over the cheese cloth.


Let it sit for about 2-5 hours. If you like your farmers cheese dry, let it sit longer. I usually let it sit for 3 hours and squeeze out the excess whey.

SONY DSCYummy and healthy homemade farmer’s cheese. Cover it up and store in the fridge.

homemade farmer's cheeseYou can also eat it as a healthy snack. Add 1 tbsp of cream cheese to 4 heaping tbsp of farmers cheese, mix in 1 tsp sugar, and pour some blueberry syrup on top. Yum!

Homemade Farmer’s Cheese (Tvorog)

Total Time: 17 hours

Yield: 2lb

Homemade Farmer’s Cheese (Tvorog)

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • cheesecloth for straining

Instructions

  1. If you'r planning on making this overnight, start around 8pm.
  2. Add the gallon of milk in a large pot, and let it warm up on a stove over medium-low heat. Don't let it get hot! just lukewarm.
  3. Turn off the range and add 1 cup buttermilk, stir, and let it sit overnight with the lid on.
  4. In the morning, (around 10ish) it should have a pudding like consistency, if not, let it sit for another hour or so.
  5. Set it over medium-low heat for 1.5-2 hours uncovered. The cheese will start to curdle and rise to the top.
  6. Fold the cheese cloth into 4 layers. Set a strainer over a large pot, or you can use an over the sink strainer, if your not going to use the whey. Put the cheese cloth over the strainer and pour in the liquid.
  7. Let it sit for about 2-5 hours. If you like your farmers cheese dry, let it sit longer. I usually let it sit for 3 hours and squeeze out the excess whey.
http://yelenasweets.com/2013/07/03/homemade-farmers-cheese-tvorog/

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Comments: 35

  1. Lidiya Yefanov July 9, 2013 at 10:09 pm Reply

    Sounds sooo good! This is on my to make list! So great that you have a print version, I printed almost all your sweets and placed them in a binder =)

  2. [...] cups (1 lb) homemade farmers cheese (or store [...]

  3. Erin February 5, 2014 at 10:30 pm Reply

    I know most buttermilk isn’t really buttermilk. Do you need a particular kind?

    • Yelena February 5, 2014 at 10:37 pm Reply

      No way, I’ve never heard buttermilk to be not real. But I wouldn’t be surprised since everything seems to be fake now a days. :( I just used regular store buttermilk, but I’ve also used plain kifir with same results.

  4. Cheese with Noodles February 8, 2014 at 5:47 am Reply

    Hi there! I’d really like to try this. Does it need to be refrigerated at any point? I’m reluctant about leaving it sitting out for hours and hours. I make yogurt frequently so leaving the milk and buttermilk out overnight is okay with me, but then leaving the cheese out for 2-5 hours worries me and I want to do it the right way! I’d feel better if I could toss it in the fridge to drain. Also, how long does the cheese stay good in the fridge?

    Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try your Syrniki. I’ve never seen farmer’s cheese for sale around here so I’ll have to make my own!

    • Yelena February 8, 2014 at 9:33 am Reply

      Although I’ve never put it in the fridge to drip, I’m guessing it would be ok since the cheese has already fermented and formed I don’t think it will change the texture. Just keep in mind that the cheese will be very warm and putting it from the stove to the fridge might be a bad idea for the fridge. I’d probably let it cool off a bit before placing into fridge.

      Homemade farmers cheese will last up to a week in an air tight container. Hope this helps :) and have fun making the cheese! It’s very rewarding!

      • Cheese with Noodles February 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm Reply

        Thank you so much, Yelena! I will let you know how it turns out. It will probably be a while before I can make it.

  5. MJ February 8, 2014 at 11:04 am Reply

    I too have heard that the buttermilk one gets in the store isn’t the same as real buttermilk. My parents used to make butter when I was little and now I can’t remember what that buttermilk was like because I really disliked it!

    Question: does the stove stay on overnight (step 3)?

    • Yelena February 8, 2014 at 11:28 am Reply

      Hmm that’s good to know. I will be using kifir from now on, hopefully it’s somewhat more like the real deal. I’ve actually made buttermilk before! All you do is take heavy cream and shake it up in a jar for like 20 minutes. Butter will form and the rest of the liquid is buttermilk!

      Sorry I didn’t specify, yes turn off the range top when the milk gets lukewarm, then add the buttermilk/kifir.

  6. Louise February 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve made my own ricotta and never looked back.

    Is there any use for the liquid left behind?

    • Yelena February 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm Reply

      Your welcome. I’ve used the liquid in my homemade bread instead of water with amazing results. Mom uses it in her crepes too but I’ve never tried that yet. :)

      • Louise February 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm Reply

        Great suggestion and thank you. I don’t like wasting anything. Looking forward to more posts in the future.

  7. Harold February 16, 2014 at 3:50 pm Reply

    There are at least two types of buttermilk that I have seen. Lowfat buttermilk is what it says on the bottle but emulifiers and solids are added to make it creamy and the bottle does NOT say Cultured. The other (what I use) is NOT lowfat and it is written on the bottle as Cultered. You can draw your own conclusions but I have had good luck making my own buttermilk using the Cultered as a starter.

    • Yelena February 17, 2014 at 10:12 am Reply

      Thanks for the helpful info! Although the one I used in this recipe says both lowfat and cultured on the carton. Is that possibly a third variation?

      • Harold February 17, 2014 at 5:24 pm Reply

        I mis-stated. They are both “cultured” but I prefer the one that is not contaminated with added emulsifiers and other stuff to make it a fake creamy.

  8. Melanie March 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm Reply

    My mom used to make cottage cheese in the oven (lowest setting) rather than stove top. But of course she used rennet, which tvorog doesn’t use. So i’m wondering if there would be any problem doing the heating in the oven rather than stovetop? I can use ceramic/glass instead of metal, and my bread bowl is bigger than my largest pot, so it becomes easier all around, and no chance of anything sticking on the bottom!

    thanks,
    Melanie

    • Yelena March 4, 2014 at 8:18 am Reply

      I don’t think you’ll have any problem making it in the oven on the lowest setting. I’ve known some people who do it that way. I think I’ll actually try it next time :)

  9. Christine May 14, 2014 at 2:16 pm Reply

    I am attempting to make this for my daughter for a school function. I did exactly what I was suppose to do however it still hasn’t turned into a pudding consistency. I am going on 16 hours of it sitting?? I don’t know what to do? Is there a way to fix it? I need this done for 8:30 tomorrow morning so there is no way I have the time to start all over again?? I hope you can help me!!
    Thank you!!
    Christine

    • Yelena May 14, 2014 at 9:24 pm Reply

      Yikes! Your house might be a bit cool. I would put it in the warmest place in your house, or even slightly warm oven . It should thicken up. Also are you using whole milk? It wouldn’t work with fat free milk otherwise I’m not sure why else it wouldn’t work. I hope it turns out by morning!!!

      • Christine May 15, 2014 at 11:35 am Reply

        Everything worked out.. Thank you so much.. We all loved the Syrniki.. My daughters school is learning about Russia this week and we were asked to make something for the kids to try.. We wanted a challenge.. lol.. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!

        • Yelena May 26, 2014 at 11:06 pm Reply

          Your very welcome, glad to her everything worked out! :)

  10. Gerda May 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm Reply

    Yelena, what is the function of heating the tvorog-to-be mixture for 1.5-2 hours once it reaches pudding-like consistency? Does it just speed up the process? Is it possible to skip the heating and give the mixture a few additional hours instead (if the room temperature is 75-80F, and arrive at the same result? Or will that be a different product? Thanks! :)

    • Yelena May 26, 2014 at 11:34 pm Reply

      Yes that would be a total different product. Basically after it’s been sitting overnight and turned into the pudding like consistency, you have yourself homemade kefir. And if you strained it I’m guessing (just a wild thought) that you could probably end up with Greek yogurt. The process of heating it curdles the milk and is what makes the texture of farmers cheese. Just remember not to heat it too much or the cheese will become too dry. Hope this helps :)

    • Yelena May 26, 2014 at 11:35 pm Reply

      Also if you have a gas range top the heating time should probably be no more then 45 minutes. I have coils and by the time it heats up, well, I could make 2 cakes :)

  11. Eugene May 31, 2014 at 12:07 pm Reply

    I am making (final stage) it as I type. I think for some reson I am going to end up with a lot of cheese. Can it be frozen?
    Thanks

    • Yelena June 1, 2014 at 12:04 am Reply

      I’ve been told you can’t, but my mom always makes vareniki with farmers cheese and freezes them and their fine. I think it’s alright, just make sure you use a freezer safe container.

  12. Susan Edelman June 4, 2014 at 11:30 pm Reply

    Yelena, have you tried to use cultured sour cream for making tvorog? I have a friend who uses Trader Joe’s organic cultured sour cream, and the result is delicious. Perhaps this is similar to using kefir.

    • Yelena June 18, 2014 at 10:20 pm Reply

      Susan, I’ve never tried to use sour cream, however my mother in law has made it with sour cream. I think anything that was cluttered should work, but will have different flavor depending on what you use.

  13. Rtish June 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm Reply

    I only had a partial success. I used a gallon of whole milk. And 2% Knudsen Buttermilk (had less additives than supermarket brand). Followed the directions exactly. Did not get the pudding texture as another person said earlier. I waited several more hours to no avail. So I proceeded with heating it for 2 hours on a gas stove (nothing much happened earlier) , anyway. I did get the curds then. And I kept stirring to avoid sticking to bottom. But unfortunately the bottom of the aluminum (yuk) pot burned a little bit and I ended up with little black specs all over the cheese. Have to get a different big pot! So here it gets weird. I had a very large amount of whey left over which did not seem correct to me. Thought maybe there were still lots of milk solids left. So I added another cup of buttermilk, heated slowly,and then added a bunch of vinegar. It looked like it wanted to curdle. But did not. I left it over night again. But no luck in the morning. Just a mess and a lot of pots to clean!!! So, except for the black spots, I don’t really know if this worked for me or not. Seems like the amount produced was not really worth all the effort. So, sadly, I am feeling discouraged about making it again. Any thoughts?? Thanks!

    • Yelena June 18, 2014 at 10:01 pm Reply

      Oh my, seems like you’ve had a nightmare making this farmer’s cheese! I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. The reason for the milk not turning into a pudding like texture is because the milk wasn’t warm long enough for it to ferment. To be safe, after warming up the milk, I would put it in a warm place, or cover it in blankets to keep it warm longer. I should have mentioned this in the instructions. The bacteria (good kind) needs warmth to grow and ferment and make it thick. If the milk has not turned thick by the next day, don’t try to heat it up. Just let it sit until it becomes thick, even if it takes a whole day. What happened with your milk was it fermented half way, and when you heated it up the second time, the cheese curdled with what was ready. That’s why you had too much whey left, and it was probably whitish. When done properly the whey should have a yellow color to it.
      Sounds like you’re kitchen was a big science experiment, lol. I do hope you give it another try. It really isn’t that difficult, just keep waiting if it doesn’t turn pudding like in the morning.

      • rtish June 18, 2014 at 11:34 pm Reply

        Thanks for the encouragement, and the quick response too. Once I recover, I will try it again just to see if I can make it work!!! Yes I did skip the ‘warm place’ step. So I suppose that is where I got into trouble! Oddly enough, the whey did turn the yellowish color. But there was a ton of it. Thank you for the explanation and now i understand the ‘science project’ a bit better!

  14. Susi July 10, 2014 at 7:42 am Reply

    Thank you for the recipe – I’ve tried this (apart from sticking the pudding into the oven at low heat (200F) for 2 hours instead of on the stove top) but it came out weird. The cheese and whey did not separate properly, when I drained it through the cloth the whey came out really milke and the cheese cloth felt somewhat “slimy” and even after overnight draining the consistency was more like yoghurt but with pulling strings when you spoon it. I have tried with just heating buttermilk in the oven for 2 hours and that gets a reasonable approximation, but has a rather strong buttermilk taste. I just can’t figure out where I might have gone wrong. Any ideas what might cause this? (I’ve tried several times with the same result, so I think it’s more than just a fluke). Help, please! :/

    • Yelena September 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm Reply

      Hmm, have you ever tried making it on a stove top? Maybe the oven way doesn’t work. Ive always done mine on a stove top and it always works well.

  15. Anna September 14, 2014 at 11:27 am Reply

    I can’t wait to try it! Step 5 question please.
    5.Set it over medium-low heat for 1.5-2 hours uncovered. The cheese will start to curdle and rise to the top.
    Will it boil all this time?

    • Yelena September 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm Reply

      It will come into a small boil around the last 45 minutes. Bit it should be very light, you might need to turn down the heat if it becomes a rolling boil.

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