Bring your herb garden to life with fresh, fragrant farmhouse cheese


Photo by Jenny McQueen

As summer draws to a close and we head into fall, I get the urge to make some homemade cheese. My herb garden is in its last chapter of the year, and I prepare my kitchen for harvesting and drying scent bouquets, which always makes me feel like I’m living in a fairy tale. As we begin the transition from summer to fall, farmer’s cheese with fresh herbs spread on a baguette and paired with crunchy white wine is September perfection.

Thanks to a culinary introduction from Little Miss Muffet itself, we can easily categorize the two protein components we work with when making cream cheese: curd and whey. The more you filter or squeeze the whey from the curd, the firmer your cheese will be.

Ricotta, farmhouse cheese, and Indian paneer all have the same basic elements: they are fresh cheeses made by heating the milk and separating the curds via an acid or bacteria. Fresh cheeses offer a variety of textures: ricotta is the smoothest, often silky enough to be ladled or used in place of gravy, while paneer is on the other end of the spectrum, with the curd in a squeeze. overnight to form a sliced ​​block. Farmhouse cheese sits in the middle with a spreadable texture similar to firm goat cheese or cream cheese.

This farmhouse cheese recipe combines natural bacteria found in buttermilk with citric acid to form a firm, flavorful cream cheese. The addition of dill, parsley, chives, lemon and garlic make this spread a real treat. You can also replace the herbs with rosemary and sage for a more robust flavor profile. Take a look at the fresh herbs in your garden or at the market and get creative.

In addition to citric acid (a powder readily available online or wherever cheese-making supplies are sold), you’ll need a kitchen thermometer, cheesecloth, and string for this recipe.

Photo by Jenny McQueen

Farmhouse cheese with herbs
Yield: 6 servings
teaspoon citric acid
¼ cup Hot water
4 cups whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1 tbsp each of fresh dill, parsley and chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped or pressed
½ teaspoon salt

Dissolve the citric acid in the water and set aside.

Add the milk to a large saucepan and heat to 130 degrees. Remove from the heat and add the buttermilk.

Add the citric acid mixture and stir gently and quickly with a wire whisk. You will notice that the curd begins to form immediately.

Add your herbs, zest and garlic.

Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, up to 2 hours, allowing the curds to separate completely.

Pour the curd into a colander covered with cheesecloth, placed over a bowl to collect the whey.

After about 15 minutes, most of the whey will have been filtered. Gently twist the cheesecloth and use baker’s twine to tie the fabric to a wooden spoon. Place the spoon on the bowl and let it drain for another 15 minutes before placing the whole machine in the refrigerator to cool it.

Keeping the cheese in the cloth while it cools will result in a beautifully round ball of farmhouse cheese.

Serve, spread and enjoy!


Terri S. Tomasini