If you’ve never heard of farmer’s cheese, you might be a little put off or even confused by the name. Technically, we can credit farmers with the origination of pretty much every type of cheese that we enjoy today. But farmer’s cheese is an extra special one that you don’t want to miss out on!
Farmer’s cheese is much more than it sounds like. If you’ve ever had this special kind of cheese before in pierogies, on a sandwich, crumbled on a breakfast parfait, or as part of a charcuterie board, then you’ll know its distinctive, smooth and somewhat tangy taste by heart. There are also plenty of farmer’s cheese substitutes that taste equally as good.
What is Farmers Cheese?
This special type of cheese is an old-school, spreadable soft cheese with curds that is somewhat reminiscent of ricotta. However, it’s extra special in that, like kefir, it’s nearly totally lactose-free. Since its dairy content is so low, it’s a great option for lactose-sensitive people who don’t want to sacrifice taste.
But what exactly is farmer’s cheese? When you break it down, farmer’s cheese is a fresh and unaged white cheese with a crumbly but spreadable texture that originates in old-world Europe. Its creamy and slightly tangy flavor is mild enough for use in desserts as well as flavorful enough to complement savory dishes.
There are several ways to make this delicious cheese, all of which require varying amounts of commitment. However, many grocery stores carry it, so you don’t have to worry about making it at home unless you want to!
Top 5 Farmers Cheese Substitutes
Here are the top 5 farmers cheese substitutes:
1. Dry and Creamed Cottage Cheese
Firstly, creamed cottage cheese makes a great substitute for farmer’s cheese specifically in creamy dishes like dips or baked and cooked goods like pancakes. The creaminess of this cheese comes from the cream added into the cottage cheese after it’s curdled. This cuts down on the acidity and adds to the mild flavor that draws comparison to farmer’s cheese.
Next, dry cottage cheese can be used in place of farmer’s cheese, although it can be a little more difficult to find. If you live near a farmer’s market, this might be a great first place to look.
The main difference between regular and dry cottage cheese is right in the name! Dry cottage cheese has had all the liquid drained from it, making the texture more crumbly and similar to that of farmer’s cheese. It makes a great addition to most dishes as a crumbled topping.
2. Paneer Cheese
The reason Paneer is such a good substitute for farmer’s cheese is in its very close taste and texture match. It’s made from curdled milk in a very similar process as farmer’s cheese, with added acid, producing a very similar outcome.
One of the biggest differences between Paneer and farmer’s cheese is that farmer’s cheese, although it has a similar mild taste, is often salted, whereas Paneer is not. So if you’re using it as a topping for a lasagna or salad, you might want to consider grinding a bit of salt over it for an authentic farmer’s cheese taste.
3. Neufchâtel Cheese
In France, this soft white cheese is made from raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk that’s left to ripen. The American version uses pasteurized milk and cream to create a milder tasting, higher moisture, lower fat-content, and legal counterpart perfect for use in place of farmer’s cheese.
Although farmer’s cheese is already healthy, choose Neufchâtel as an even healthier substitute option that will pack an extra nutty, tangy punch that will up-play everything you love about farmer’s cheese.
4. Goat Cheese
Goat cheese is, however, a little more tangy than farmer’s cheese, so it’s best used in savory dishes instead of desserts. However, if eaten very fresh, goat cheese can retain a much milder flavor and be more versatile in sweeter dishes if needed.
All in all, goat cheese is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than most other types of cheeses and, due to its low lactose content, is considered easily-digestible for those with sensitive stomachs. Crumble it into savory dishes to experience its full range as a great substitute for farmer’s cheese.
5. Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta is made from whey, a component of all kinds of milk from cow’s milk to goat’s milk to sheep’s milk. As such, it has a higher dairy content than farmer’s cheese and also features a lighter, sweeter taste.
This Italian cheese is also creamier than farmer’s cheese but makes a great addition to any baked dish or recipe that could benefit more from a creamier texture than the slightly crumbly one offered by farmer’s cheese.
If you’re looking to use ricotta as a farmer’s cheese substitute, it will likely work best in dessert recipes or smooth, creamy dinner recipes that can be complemented by its sweet taste and smooth texture. Try it out in a cheesecake or even honor its heritage by including it in fresh-churned gelato!
What Can You Make With Farmer’s Cheese?
Whatever way you decide to procure it, farmer’s cheese is a great addition to a healthy diet since it supplies high amounts of protein, calcium, and a great probiotic content. Its versatility also owes to the fact that it’s such a great option for lactose-sensitive and gluten-free diets.
One reason that farmer’s cheese is so popular is that you can do just about anything with it! Its loose texture is perfect for spreading. But it’s slightly crumbly nature means that it’s also easily pan-fried or used as a topping on anything from salads to lasagna or a breakfast bagel.
Many people also swear by its merits as a base ingredient for yogurt or cheese spreads, as well as the addition of texture it can give when added to baked pudding or casserole dishes.
However, watch out, because once you get addicted, you’ll want to use it in everything! In the event that you run out and can’t find farmer’s cheese or the ingredients to make it at your local grocery store, what do you do next?
What Makes a Good Substitute for Farmer’s Cheese
Thankfully, several other types of cheese products can serve as a good farmer’s cheese substitute in many cases. When selecting a good substitute for farmer’s cheese, the two important things to remember are taste and texture.
Because of the slightly tangy but still mild flavor of farmer’s cheese, you’ll want to choose a substitute with a similar mild taste that won’t intrude on the flavors of the dish you’re using it in. You’ll want the substitute you choose to serve as a good complement to your dish.
Secondly, texture is worth noting because, although farmer’s cheese is spreadable, it does have a more solid texture than cream cheese or other soft cheeses. In any dish that benefits from the texture of farmer’s cheese curds, you’ll want to choose a suitable texture substitute that isn’t too creamy.
Is your mouth watering yet? There are so many wonderful and healthy farmer’s cheese recipes to explore. From filled ravioli to a pita spread and even sweet pastries and cheesecake, farmer’s cheese is a highly versatile and enjoyable addition to your diet.
Even if you’re unable to get your hands on it, there are many great substitutes for farmer’s cheese that can supply you with a similar texture and flavor for use in all your favorite dishes.
When it comes down to which is the best farmer’s cheese substitute, it’s really up to you! Use ricotta in a rich, creamy dessert and make use of Neufchâtel as an amped-up version of farmer’s cheese in all your most savory creations.
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with farmer’s cheese or these flavorful substitutes. Go enjoy all the newfound recipes you can now cook and, even better, eat!
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