7 Farmer’s Cheese Substitutes You Will Love
Farmer’s cheese is a classic cheese that has been enjoyed all over the world for centuries. It is more popular in Europe but is easily made just about anywhere you have access to good quality milk.
Made from just a few ingredients: milk, cultures, and rennet, Farmer’s cheese has been around for a very, very long time.
It is not the oldest cheese in the world but evidence of its very early production dates back to ancient Greece and Rome. The cheese was originally made by farmers who wanted to preserve their surplus milk. They would add cultures (and later rennet) to the milk and then strain the curds and press them into a rudimentary wooden block. Making cheese was an excellent of storing the nutrients and proteins of milk. It was also pretty delicious!!
Nowadays Farmer’s cheese is made by heating milk and adding rennet to it in the same basic recipe as used by farmers way back. Why mess with a good thing? The rennet causes the milk to coagulate, forming large to medium-sized curds.
The curds are then separated from the whey and pressed to remove any remaining liquid. The resulting cheese is mild, tangy and slightly crumbly in texture. The cheese can be made with cow, goat, or sheep’s milk, each produce different flavors and textures. But the main product is the same – a healthy, delicious, simple cheese the whole family can enjoy!
Farmer’s cheese is a staple in many cultures, and very popular in Eastern Europe (Poland, Russia, and Ukraine) where food storage can sometimes be an issue. In these countries, it is commonly used in traditional dishes such as pierogi, noodle dishes, and blintzes.
It is also used in Western Europe as a sandwich topping, in crepes or omelets, and on pasta or pizza. You can find Farmer’s cheese at local farmer’s markets and in specialty cheese shops, or it is relatively easy to make your own if you have access to rennet.
Farmer’s cheese is known for its mild flavor and crumbly texture, which makes it a very versatile cheese. It can be used in many ways, making it a popular ingredient in many recipes. It doesn’t melt but rather holds its shape and remains pure white, making it an excellent garnish. If you cannot find it in your pantry (and don’t feel like making your own) here are some great alternatives to Farmer’s cheese!
Like Farmer’s cheese, paneer is made by heating and curdling milk using some sort of acid, and then straining and pressing. The two are very similar, however paneer is almost always made with cow’s milk and is very firm. It also does not typically contain any rennet, making it suitable for vegetarians.
Paneer is not aged in any way, nor does it melt. Because of this, it is ideal for deep frying, grilling, and stewing, and it also soaks up marinades and broths well.
Like Farmer’s cheese, many people love paneer for its mild and slightly sweet flavor as well as its firm texture. It makes an excellent substitute for Farmer’s cheese in nearly every recipe – but don’t just trust us, give it a try!
Oh, and one extra bonus…. because paneer is not aged and only contains a few ingredients, it is often very affordable and readily available at any store!
2. Cotija Cheese
Cotija is an aged, Mexican cheese made from fermented cow’s milk and is famous for its salty, milky flavor. When this cheese is aged for a long time, it becomes firm and dry, but the younger version has a mild, crumbly texture, most similar to Farmer’s cheese. In fact, it is hard to tell the difference between the two!
Cojita is saltier and has a bit of an off-white color, and is almost always made from cow’s milk as this is what is most readily available in Mexico where this popular cheese hails from. But no matter what you’re cooking, Cotija is an excellent addition to any recipe and is a reasonable replacement for many kinds of cheese but especially Farmer’s cheese!
One great thing about Cotija is that it is often very affordable whereas some of the other cheeses on this list might be a bit more expensive, so once you try Cotija you might never go back!
3. Cottage Cheese, Ricotta Salata, or Ricotta
In fact, sometimes people find these cheeses too mild. But you can always spice it up by adding some extra salt, pepper, chilies, or lemon zest! The texture of ricotta and cottage cheese is slightly more liquid than that of Farmer’s cheese, which is often pressed so it is sliceable, so keep this in mind depending on what recipe you are working with.
Cottage cheese has larger curds that can be anywhere from mealy to gritty to chewy, so if you’re looking for a smooth texture, this may not be the best alternative. Cottage cheese is, however, super nutritious and goes great with spicy food or even as a breakfast!
Ricotta Salata is a pressed ricotta which is made almost exactly as Farmer’s cheese (without the rennet) and will make one of the best alternatives as it is very similar in texture, taste, and price!
4. Cheddar Cheese
Although cheddar cheese is more flavorful than Farmer’s cheese, they both have one thing in common: everyone loves them!
Classic cheddar is a mild to medium-flavored cheese made with pasteurized cow’s milk. It slices and melts and if you can find an aged cheddar, it will have a sharp bite and even a bit of salt crystals which you will not find in Farmer’s cheese or any of the others mentioned on this list.
A mild or medium cheddar will have the same smooth texture and firm bite as Farmer’s cheese so this is a good substitute that is widely available and easy on the pocket! This is a very common substitute for pierogi or blintzes.
5. Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is a salty sheep or goat’s milk cheese that cubes, slices, and crumbles just like Farmer’s cheese. It is also bright white, meaning it will look quite similar!
Feta cheese comes in a variety of densities ranging from dry and firm, to soft and crumbly – you will likely want to find a firm feta if you’ll be swapping it out for Farmer’s cheese in a recipe.
Feta is salt brined but its salt content is mild compared to Cotija or even cheddar, so you may want to keep this in mind and adjust the salt in your recipes!
6. Queso Fresco
Queso Fresco is very similar to Farmer’s cheese in that it is soft, pure white, crumbly, mild and salty, making it a perfect substitute! Similar to Farmer’s cheese, this raw cow’s milk cheese is often made fresh in people’s homes by curdling and pressing milk.
Queso fresco literally means fresh cheese, meaning it is not fermented or aged so its texture and flavor is almost identical to Farmer’s cheese. The only difference is that queso fresco is suitable for vegetarians as it doesn’t contain rennet, which means this cheese is suitable for even your herbivore guest!
7. Firm Tofu (Vegan)
Now that we’ve let you in on a vegetarian substitute for Farmer’s cheese, it’s time to take it one step further and let you in on a vegan substitute!
By crumbling seasoned firm tofu, you will have a firm, pure white, cheese-like vegan alternative to Farmer’s cheese! To create this vegan magic, simply drain the tofu well and press it until it is quite dry on the outside. Then, crumble the tofu into a small bowl and add a generous pinch of fine salt and a few spoons of nutritional yeast. (Careful not to add too much of either so it maintains its whiteness!)
No matter what way you look at it, Farmer’s cheese is here to stay! A beloved cheese and staple ingredient, it is easy to see why so many people love this amazing, mild, crumbly, delicious, healthy cheese. Try it for yourself and see all there is to love, or try making your own and share your recipe so others can experience this incredible cheese!