Nourishing Recipessnacks

Easy Homemade Farmer’s Cheese Recipe: Russian Tvorog

Easy Homemade Farmer’s Cheese Recipe: Russian Tvorog

Russian tvorog is a great recipe to try when just starting out making homemade cheese. Very similar to other fresh cheeses such as cottage and ricotta cheese, it is mild and very versatile. If you are looking for a simple way to start making your own cheese, you’re in the right place!

What is Tvorog?

Tvorog is a Russian fresh curd cheese that is similar to what people in the United States would call farmer’s cheese or cottage cheese. Farmers cheese is made when the whey of dairy milk separates from the milk solids by using heat and acid, and curds are formed.

Fresh curd cheeses have been made in slightly different ways by many different cultures throughout history. Poland has “tworag”, Hungary has “turo”, sweden has “kvarg”…in England and Germany they have “quark”! These are all curd cheeses that are made in similar or identical ways.

In this post I will be sharing 3 tvorog recipe methods I tried:

A quick tvorog, 

a semi-quick tvorog,

and a traditional tvorog.

Originally, farmer’s cheeses were made by letting unpasteurized fresh milk clabber at room temperature. The lactic acid produced from the natural fermentation process then begins to make cheese curds, and with a little heat and straining you have a delicious curd cheese product!

The quickest and easiest way to make homemade farmer’s cheese is to heat milk, add an acid like lemon juice or white vinegar, and then strain once cooled. 

How to Enjoy Tvorog

Homemade farmer’s cheese can be enjoyed in a variety of ways with its mild flavor. My favorite ways are to brown mine on the stove and enjoy with sliced medjool dates (with a firmer tvorog), to add to a smoothie for some extra protein, to enjoy with smoked meats, or to make russian cheese pancakes!

How to Make Quick Tvorog

  • Begin by purchasing organic milk that is grass fed or pasture raised and non homogenized. 
  • Add a gallon of whole milk to a large pot, and place on a stove. Set to medium heat or medium low heat.
  • Once the milk has come to 180-190 degrees fahrenheit, add ⅓ cup of white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Give it a quick stir to distribute the acid, then let rest for 30 minutes. 
  • After 30 minutes, stir again. You should see cheese curds that have formed.
  • Let cool to room temperature. 
  • Make 4 layers of cheesecloth by folding it, then lay over a large colander or sieve that is set over a large bowl. 
  • Pour cheese mixture into the cheesecloth and squeeze out the whey (the yellowish liquid) until it is just barely dripping when you squeeze it.

 You will have a cheese log that you can slice but that may be somewhat crumbly. You can also squeeze out less whey to make a more crumbly cheese. 

This method made a great cheese log that was perfect for browning on a cast iron skillet and enjoying with sliced dates. With a more crumbly cheese, you can add salt and cream to create an American style cottage cheese!

This cheese by itself is pretty bland because it is not fermented, but pairs well with a variety of other foods and works well in recipes like russian cheese pancakes. Next time I make this version I may add a little salt to the milk to give it more flavor.

Quick Tvorog Result:

How to Make Semi-Quick Tvorog

This method is made by making basic yogurt, and then curdling it! I enjoy this recipe because fermenting the milk into yogurt gives the cheese a delightful flavor. You will follow the same first steps as this post, but will then add some different steps at the end. 

  • Begin by purchasing organic whole milk that is grass fed or pasture raised and non homogenized, as well as a small container of yogurt to use as a starter culture – like plain yogurt or greek yogurt.
  • Pour milk into a large pot. Heat the milk on medium heat or medium-low heat. Make sure not to have the heat too high or the milk will burn on the bottom of the pot. 
  • Once the milk has reached 180-190 degrees fahrenheit, take it off of the heat and allow to come down to 105-110 degrees fahrenheit. 
  • Remove the skin that formed on the top of the milk with a fork or other utensil. 
  • Add ½ cup of store bought yogurt to the gallon of warm milk. Stir with a whisk. To help distribute more evenly you can first add the yogurt to 1 cup of warm milk, then combine that mixture with the rest. 
  • Cover pot with a plate and plate in an oven with the light on for 8 hours. Alternatively, you can pour into an instant pot and turn on the yogurt setting. 
  • After 8 hours, the yogurt has fermented. Pour yogurt into a large pot if it was removed, then set on the stove on medium-low heat.
  • Heat the yogurt on low until the whey begins to separate ( 1-2 hours), then add ⅓ cup of white vinegar or lemon juice. 
  • Give it 1 quick stir to distribute the acid, then let rest until cooled to room temperature. Once cooled, you should see cheese curds. 
  • Make 4 layers of cheesecloth by folding it, then lay over a large colander or sieve that is set over a large bowl.
  • Pour cheese mixture into the cheesecloth and squeeze out the whey (the yellowish liquid) until it is just barely dripping when you squeeze it.

With this recipe, my cheese curds came out a bit smaller than the quick tvorog method. I also found that the curds weren’t quite as rubbery, and enjoyed the more soft curds. This fresh cheese would go great in a smoothie, and made a delicious cottage cheese when adding salt and cream. It was a perfect high protein snack! Check out this post to find cottage cheese snack ideas. 

Semi-Quick Tvorog Result:

How to Make Traditional Tvorog

  • Begin by purchasing raw (unpasteurized) milk from a trusted farmer. To find raw milk near you, see the raw milk resources listed at the bottom of this post. If raw milk is sold legally at the grocery store in your area, that works too! 
  • Set desired amount of raw milk out on the counter, covered, for 2-3 days. You should see clear liquid separating from the white milk solids. This is called clabbered milk. 
  • After 2-3 days, discard the top cream layer (it may be bitter) and carefully scoop the somewhat solidified milk into a large pot, or smaller pot for a small batch. Try not to break up the milk solids too much. 
  • Turn the stovetop to low heat and allow to heat the clabbered milk for about 2 hours. 
  • You will begin to see a yellowish liquid as the lactic acid made during the natural fermentation process is curdling the clabbered milk. 
  • Turn off the heat and allow it to come to room temperature.
  • Make 4 layers of cheese cloth by folding it, then lay over a large colander or sieve that is set over a large bowl
  • Pour cheese mixture into the cheesecloth and squeeze out the whey (the yellowish liquid) until it is just barely dripping when you squeeze it.

This method made larger curds that were tart. To me, it tasted a lot like a strong kefir. If you are a fan of kefir you will probably enjoy this cheese! The taste took some getting used to for me, but it is very flavorful and would be great in recipes that could use a touch of tartness. This was my favorite texture of the 3 recipes, the curds were soft and the perfect size. As this is the traditional method, it’s the most authentic tasting tvorog of the three methods!

Traditional Tvorog Result:

Store tvorog (Russian farmer’s cheese) in an airtight container in the refirigerator for up to 1 week.

Comment below with the method you tried, and how you served it!

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2 comments

  1. I used raw goat milk to make farmer’s cheese the traditional way. I made only a small batch so then I made more using the quick vinegar method. Both worked well but the vinegar method was so quick and easy. I would make again.
    I used the farmer’s cheese to make a traditional Russian Orthodox Pascha cheese for Easter which is this Sunday (May 5th!) and I’ll be serving it with my einkorn sourdough kulich.
    I’m glad this recipe came out just when I needed it!

    1. Russian Orthodox Pascha cheese is something I’d love to try! I’m so glad you found it helpful 🙂

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