Q: What is farmer cheese, and why does it have little or no calcium?
A: Also known as dry curd cottage cheese or baker cheese, this soft cheese is made from milk that is cultured (to curdle it) and then pressed to separate out the liquid whey, leaving behind the solid curds. It has little or no calcium because the calcium drains away with the liquid. So, too, does most of the lactose (milk sugar), making it a good option for people with lactose intolerance.
In effect, farmer cheese is just cottage cheese that is pressed to remove most of the moisture. (Cottage cheese has more calcium because it retains more of the liquid.)
An ounce (two tablespoons) of farmer cheese has about 40 to 50 calories (compared to 75 to 130 in most cheeses), 2 to 3 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and little cholesterol. It has half the calories and less than one-third the fat of regular cream cheese. Farmer cheese has less sodium than other cheeses— about 120 milligrams per ounce; no-salt- added versions are also available.
There are many variations, made from different milk sources (cow, sheep, goat) and with different textures and flavors. But the cheese is generally mild and moist, yet still dry enough to slice or crumble. You can use it as a substitute for cream cheese, ricotta or feta cheese in recipes; sprinkle it over salads, or spread it on bread.