Homemade Soft Cheese (Syr/Tvorog)
A recipe for Tvorog, or Syr how we call it in Ukraine, was one of the most requested ones on my Instagram. The reason is that Tvorog is a crucial ingredient for a countless number of Slavik dishes. Including my favorite Lazy Dumplings, crispy Syrniki, and thin Nalysniki stuffed with this lovely cheese. I’ve recently learned that an internationally known name for Tvorog is Quark or quarg. The names may vary from country to country, but the basic idea is the same. It’s an easy-to-make, fresh dairy product made by warming soured milk until the soft curdles appears. Widely praised French Fromage Blanc also belongs to this family.
You can get Tvorog in every Russian store nearby, but the most delicious one is always the one you make from scratch at home. In Ukraine, people always try to get it from their local farmers who have cows and make this cheese weekly. But making it at your own kitchen from organic whole milk and kefir is the next best thing. I understand that the entire idea of cheese making might sound a little intimidating for some people. However, in reality, this particular kind is very straightforward and requires incredibly little effort to master. You should try and see for yourself.
What you’ll need before starting: 1 gallon of Organic whole milk (try to use the best quality milk possible); Organic kefir or buttermilk (avoid low-fat one); a large colander; 4 layers of cheesecloth (sometimes I use just colander).
- organic whole milk - 1 gallon (not ultra-pasteurized)
- organic buttermilk or kefir - 1 1/2 cups
- In a big pot combine milk and buttermilk or kefir. Stir, cover with a lid and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. At the end of the culturing period, the milk will set up and will resemble a thin yogurt.
- Place the pot over low heat, begin to heat the mixture very slowly (don't bring it to a simmer), gently stirring once, until it reaches 175 degrees F. It should take about 40 minutes.
- As soon as the temperature reaches 175 degrees F, remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit, undisturbed, for an hour. You will see that the mixture is separated into curds and whey.
- Line a large colander with a 4 layers of fine cheesecloth or a linen towel and set it over a large bowl.
- Gently ladle the curds and whey into the colander and allow to drain about 3-5 minutes.
- Bring the corners of the draining cloth together and tie them off. It should then be hung for an hour to allow the whey to drain off. This can take a couple of hours, depending on the final moisture desired.