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Mar 11, 2009 05:28 PM

Farmer's Cheese - what is it? And what to do with it?

I love cheese. When I am in the store, forget the the cookies, cakes, and sweets. I am tempted by the cheese aisle. Recently I have really enjoyed Bel Paese - a creamy, soft Italian cheese that comes wrapped in individual servings in gold foil. I had always loved it, but last weekend I had friends over unexpectedly. When I served some wine, I wondered what hors d'ouvre I could offer. Then I remembered I had the Bel Paese! Served with some crackers, everyone loved it and thought it was great because they had their own little "wheel" of cheese.

I digress a little. After enjoying the Bel Paese, I started thinking about other soft creamy cheeses. I have also served Cream Cheese with assorted savory jams and salsas - chutney, salsa, carrot jam - and on a cracker it is addictive. So I decided to see what creamy cheeses were readily available at my local grocer (not my gourmet grocer). And? Right there by the cream cheese, ranch dip, and guacamole (?) was Friendship Brand "Farmer's Cheese". I figured since it was near the cream cheese it would be similar - if not the same. But as you may know, what it actually is is a mild cross between cream cheese and ricotta cheese, flavor and texture-wise.

I find it delicious and a good base for other flavors. I use it like I describe how I use cream cheese above - but I wonder. Farmer's Cheese sounds old fashioned. Is there a traditional way to enjoy or cook with this cheese? And if not, what do you do with it?

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  1. - spread on toast or bagels
    - if it's pressed & well-drained you can pan-fry it or use as a substitute for paneer in Indian dishes
    - use as filling for pierogies, blintzes, or filled pastas (stuffed shells, ravioli, lasagna, etc)
    - cheesecake or other baked desserts (if you're Jewish - kugel!)
    - blend with yogurt, sour cream or mayo as a base for dip
    - use as a substitute for cotija or a less-salty alternative to feta

    6 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Hi, GHG, and thanks! These are all good recommendations. I wonder, is this one of those old school cheeses like "Roca Blue" that has been in the dairy aisle since the '40s? And if so, how was it used?

      1. re: SamuelAt

        Farmer's cheese is the traditional filling for cheese blintzes, and it's used in other Ashkenazi Jewish American recipes (like some kugels, as GHG mentioned). Definitely an old-school ingredient, now hard to find, especially outside the Northeast.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          In Michigan, Zingerman's of Ann Arbor has wonderful farmer's cheese. when i find it at various area markets always buy it. my fav way to eat it is spread on crusty bread with preserve or marmalade.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            I made noodle kugel for Shevous-
            delicious-chag sameach

          2. re: SamuelAt

            It's flavor is close to cottage cheese, but the texture is much dryer.

          3. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I love it on toast or spread on tomato or cucumber rounds. It's also good in a sandwich on pita with lettuce, tomato, and some olives. A friend of mine fills mini peppers with a mixture of farmer cheese and chopped scallions.

          4. "Queso campesino" = "Farmers' cheese" is ubiquitous and fairly similar all over Latin America. It is the first off, traditional, bland palate on which you can do thousands of things.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I am from Uruguay, and we call it 'queso blanco' (meaning: "white cheese").


              1. re: ElisaS

                In the Andes, including here in Colombia, most of the quesos campesino are cuajados; while quesos blancos are more refined, more solid.

            2. Is the stuff used in blintzes and queso campesino really the same thing?

              I don't know how to eat it 'properly', either, but I cut the stuff that's marketed as queso campesino into a fine dice, mix it into my arepa dough and pan fry the arepa until the cheese is gooey through and through. *Great*

              2 Replies
              1. re: cimui

                Farmer cheese (also farmer's cheese or farmers' cheese) is a simple cheese often used for fillings in blintzes and other foods. Farmer cheese is made by pressing most of the moisture from cottage cheese; pressed drier still, it is sometimes rolled in a mixture of herbs and flavorings, or wrapped in very thin slices of flavorful smoked meats. Around the world, farmer cheese is variably made from milk from cows, sheep, or goats, each with its own final texture and nuance of flavor. There are several forms of cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is the fresh drained curds of slightly soured, low fat pasteurized milk. When the curds are drained, the cheese is called cottage cheese; if drained longer it is called pot cheese. When the remaining moisture is pressed out so it becomes dry and crumbly, it is called farmer's cheese. Another variety is paneer, or Indian farmer cheese, which is easily made at home. It should be consumed fresh, as it goes stale if kept too long, and becomes brittle and useless with refrigeration. In Canada, the term "farmer's cheese" refers to a different type of white cheese that does not have a rind and is firm but springy in texture. It is mild, milky and buttery in flavor. Canadian "farmer's cheese" may be used in a similar fashion to Colby or Cheddar.

                I agree with the bagles and crackers, etc. Something to try ... Champagne jelly (usually available at farmers markets or in a regular grocery store with the cheese on crackers. Addictive as you mentioned. A total favorite.

                I also make a toasted baguette toasted with the cheese and then topped with a spicy cucumber salsa.

                Stuff small jalapenos ribs and seeds removed stuff with the cheese mixed with some scallions and pancetta and bake until peppers begin to get soft and the cheese melts.

                Good revioli filling too

                My favorite, pecans, cheese, scallions, thin pear slices and honey with strips of maple bacon. I stuff a thin chicken breast. Spread the cheese mixed with the nuts and scallions, then top with bacon and then pears thin diced. Roll and then dip in egg and then dip in a mix of bread crumbs and nuts. Pan saute and then bake to finish off. I make a light white sauce in the pan while the chicken rest with apple cider, scallions, maple syrup, some red pepper for spice and fresh thyme. A very light sauce. A really good dish. The cheese is gooey and mild and a great flavor.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  Wow - thanks to you and all the other posters for the explanation and also the ideas. I am sure I will be finding ways to enjoy what I have. What is interesting, texture-wise, is that the Friendship brand cheese I bought in my dairy section (probably a North East brand) is a dense, moist texture. It is exactly what I imagine in a cheese blintz now that you mention it. (I am not Jewish but have had blintzes on a few occasions.) It is a good cheese base for a lot of other flavors. The recipes and ideas above sound great - I look forward to trying.

              2. I made a cheesecake with it last week. It was delicious! A bit softer and creamier than philedelphia, but free of vegetable gums and thickeners.

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