Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to Make Paneer

Paneer is an Indian farmer's cheese that is very simply made from milk and lemon juice/vinegar. It's a lovely addition to many meals and is particularly tasty in one of Husband's and my favorite dishes, Palak Paneer.

It's almost impossible to find ethnic ingredients in my area so most of the time, if I can, I just make it myself. This is my first time making cheese of any kind and it turned out really well.

Wanna see how I did it?

First, you take some milk. I used a half gallon of whole.

Husband and I only drink Fat-Free Milk, but I was worried about how it would work with the whole cheese-making thing, so I picked up some whole milk. Next time I'm going to try it with FF and see what happens.

Then, you pour the milk in a nice big pot.

You heat it up until it's almost boiling, but not quite. About 200 F if you're counting.

Then, you add the juice of one whole lemon, or 1/4 cup vinegar. Whatever works for you.

My lemon was a little small, so I added a splash of vinegar as well. Worked out pretty perfectly. You're just going for about 1/4 cup total of whatever acid you're using.

Keep it at a steady heat just below boiling and in about a minute you'll see this:

Little tiny curds will begin to form.

You've still got a ways to go, son, keep on cookin'.

In about two-three more minutes you'll be approaching this stage.

We've got some medium sized curd action going on at this point.

But, hold your horses folks 'cuz we're not yet where we want to be. Keep on cooking for another 3-4 minutes, if you need to you might need to add a capful of vinegar to really juice those curds into action. It's all good, nobody cares if your curds are on steroids.

This is where you want to be. Nice big curds and clear-ish whey.

Oh yeah. Nice curds.

So, funny story. Husband came in and looked at this point and was like "Eww. What's that?" And I was all, "Curds and whey." He replies, "Looks gross, who'd eat that?" So of course I had to respond, "DUH. Little Miss Muffett."

This is where you want to grab your cheesecloth.

Then you want to grab another big bowl/pot whatever. Pour the curds and whey though the cheesecloth into the pot. The cheesecloth catches all the yummy curds, and the the pot saves the whey. Which I'm totally not tossing. I've got big plans for that whey. Three guesses as to what I'm doing with it. Hmm?

Now, let it rest for a second. That shit was just nearly boiling, don't be gettin' all Handsy McGee with it. Keep your paws off.

After a few minutes tie it up with some kitchen string and hang it in your fridge over a bowl to drain. Like so:

See how I was all clever and tied it to the upper shelf. I'm like friggin' McGyver over here.

Let it drain for a couple hours. When you pull it out it'll look like this.

Now you want a brick - or some other heavy object. I like bricks.

But wrap it in foil first. We're not dirty heathens that let bricks touch our food.

The reason you want a brick is that the curd at this point is very fine, it's holding in a bunch of whey still. To get it out we're going to torture it press it flat. I set the curd in a loaf pan and put the brick on top. Works like a charm.

Now put it back in the fridge and let it sit for another hour or so.

When you pull it out it's going to look like this:

Now, cut it up into cute little cubes, or trapezoids, or stars or whatever the hell.

And TA DA! You've got yourself some genuine, bona fide Paneer!

You may now pat yourself on the back for being the cheese-making bad ass that you are.


Kristin said...

I'll pat YOU on the back. Are you going to make ricotta with the whey? Or use it for bread?

Of course, it's also good to feed to hogs, but I don't think you're going to do that.

Zoomie said...

Hey, thanks for the tutorial! I've been wanting to make cheese for some time now but wasn't sure of the steps!

Allen of EOL said...

Nicely done! I posted on paneer a couple month's ago and I tried mixing in herbs before hanging it. It worked really well and allowed me to explore making a wide variety of flavored paneer.

Christine said...

Hey McGyver, Great tutorial. I have yet to try making it, but it sure is a great additive to food. :)

cookiecrumb said...

Way to go! Don't you feel so proud?
I have made paneer, and I thought I was so OSSUM!
Good, you.

Sweet Bird said...

Kristin - Thanks, and yes. Ricotta. I'm going to attempt to make it tonight.

Zoomie - Try it, it's super easy! Just try not to burn the ever-lovin' crap out of your hands when draining it - that part...not so fun.

Allen - that's a great idea! Maybe I'll tuck some cilantro in there next time?

Christine - Just because you recognized my're like the coolest person ever.

Cookie - I feel mad awesome - we rock.

smörgåsbroad said...

quick, before you try to make ricotta...i don't think you can! i believe you can only make ricotta using the whey from hard cheeses. i think this type of cheese does not leave enough protein in the whey for it to be able to precipitate enough for ricotta.

i could be wrong. but just a warning. i made faux ricotta very similar to how you made the paneer, mostly just without pressing it and without letting it form huge curds. i will be making paneer soon!

Em Xero said...

Hey there.

I came here originally for your paneer post & have just killed an evening lurking around your site!

You've got some great stuff going on here & if I could get my car started I'd be going straight to the market for ingredients to try out your ideas. :)

Sweet Bird said...

smorgasbord - I had read the same thing but wanted to try it out anyways, but I realized that I was trying to pack waaaay too much stuff in a busy week and made myself throw it out instead. I think I'll try next time I make paneer though.

em xero - Thank you so much! That's such a compliment!

_ts of [eatingclub] vancouver said...

Bookmarked/clipped this! I'm waiting and waiting... and someday we'll make cheese ourselves. =) Well, at least the soft kinds.

Sam said...

Hey everyone. this is a great post. I was wondering if you could use sheep's or goat's milk. I could see this making a great sweet fruit cheese