In Russia, there’s a version of farmer’s /cottage/ ricotta cheese called tvorog. This is my favorite among all four. The flavor is very mild and pleasing and the texture can be varied, depending on the straining time, from very soft ricotta style to more dense, almost tofu like. Tvorog is so versatile. It can be eaten plain or with fruit toppings, or baked into pastries as part of the dough or as a filling, made into cheesecakes, etc. Store bought tvorog can be very good, but nothing compares to the homemade one. Kristian’s kinda tired of plain yogurt, but he still likes his plain tvorog.
So here’s a Russian recipe I use. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, but I’ve been successful with it since. I’m going to describe my way of doing it. If you’re a working parent, it’s best to make tvorog over the weekend as the process takes 1 day and 2 nights. It’s very low maintenance, but you do need to be at home during the day when you make it.
Start the process at night. Preheat oven to 40 degrees C (105 F). My oven only starts at 50 degrees C, but it works fine for me. Mix 2 liters (or 2 quarts) of milk and 1.5 cup of yogurt or kefir in a large soup pot. Goat milk tvorog is also quite delicious. Turn the oven off, cover the pot and put it in the oven.
In the morning, check on the mixture. It should look like a large pot of yogurt. If it still has not solidified enough to pull away from the sides of the pot, turn the oven on again for 5 minutes, then turn it off and continue waiting. Usually around midday the process is done for me. At this point, heat the pot on medium low for about 20 minutes until whey starts to separate. Here’s a pic.
Turn the heat off and let cool completely (usually a few hours). Repeat the process, this time for 40 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil! The tvorog will be very dry and crumbly. Let cool again for a couple of hours. Line a large sieve with double layer of cheesecloth. Pour the mixture in. Tie the ends and hang on your faucet. At this point you can strain it for 4-6 hours. I usually strain mine overnight and very happy with the texture. Straining time will affect how firm your tvorog will be.
I know this can be a little overwhelming at first, but you will be so gratified once you get a hang of it. I make tvorog weekly. It’s a definite staple in our kitchen.