Paneer: simple cheesemaking

Have you ever thought about making your own cheese? I’ll admit, it can be quite intimidating. For example, you might not know where to buy a culture of bacterium, or specific kinds of rennet. Lucky for you there are really simple cheese recipes that you can make in your own home with ingredients and tools that you already have. So, if you’re looking for a really easy cheese to make, consider making paneer. Skip to the recipe

Fried Paneer

What is paneer?

Paneer is a fresh, acid-set cheese, which is native to the Indian subcontinent. Of course, the cheese itself is nothing new to the rest of the world. Paneer is something like pressed cottage cheese, and there is no shortage of paneer recipes available. Readers, correct me if I’m wrong, think one of the most common is saag paneer, which is a spinach curry with fried paneer.

The following recipe is one that I adopted from the recent Food Network Magazine’s All-Cheese Issue, but I noticed that other recipes may be quite different; they may use distilled white vinegar instead of lemon juice or use different types of milk. If you aren’t feeling this recipe, you might like to try this one on The Nibble.

Paneer Recipe, lemons, cheese curds Paneer by Rebecca Siegel

The recipe

Ingredients
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup 2% greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • cheese cloth

Directions

Line a double layer of damp cheesecloth in a colander and place it in the sink. Pour the milk into a nonreactive pot and place set the burner on medium heat. Stir the milk occasionally until it starts to simmer, after which you remove it from the heat and stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Stir for another 1-2 minutes until the large cheese curds separate from the whey. Strain through the cheesecloth, removing the whey. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and twist to squeeze out the whey. Tie the bundle around a wooden spoon and let it dangle over the colander, draining out any excess liquid for 10 minutes. Untie the bundle, open and squeeze one last time. Sandwich the bundle of cheese curds between two plates and place something heavy, like a cast iron pan or large can, on top and refrigerate this for approximately 1 hour, or until a firm cake forms.

Storage

Paneer is a fresh cheese, so it is meant to be eaten right away. It will last for up to 2 days refrigerated in an airtight container.

Wrapping up

This was actually my first attempt at making cheese, and it went pretty smoothly. My pictures were okay but my final product wasn’t as pretty as it could have been so I opted to use the lovely photos from Rebecca Siegel. That being said, the cheese I made tasted pretty great. I encourage any of you cheeseophiles to run with this recipe and start making your own cheese.

  • Nick

    You can add herbs (say shredded coriander leaves/ minced peppers) into the milk before adding the acids, and you’ll get a herb cheese. The whey is pretty nutritional too, and is often used instead of water to knead flour or as the stock for lentiils. The Paneer stays fine for a week or more – so long as it’s refrigerated.

    • http://blog.johneatscheese.com/ John Proestakes

      That’s great advice, thanks! I didn’t realize it could last for so long. I read an article once on the many uses of whey, and it pretty interesting–could be another potential topic for John Eats Cheese.

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