I am a cheese lover no doubt about it! That’s why I’m so excited to share with you just how easy it is to make your own cheese. There are plenty of reasons to make cheese yourself such as having control over the quality of your milk, avoiding funky ingredients (like artificial preservatives), seasoning it however you like, plus when those curds and whey separate…..ahhhh….it’s just like magic! Or science! Or perhaps both! Try this with your kids, it’s fun, educational, and a rather lost art form that we need to re-establish.
The type of cheese I’m going to show you how to make today is called paneer. Paneer is widely used in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. It can take on any flavor that you choose to add to it, but is mainly just three simple ingredients. Paneer has the unique characteristic of not melting. So while it may not be your choice for grilled cheese sandwiches, it has a lot of potential for other uses. It’s great by itself or on a grain-free cracker. You can add it to soups and stir fry and it will retain it’s shape and texture. I see a fried crunchy cheese snack in my near future (I’ll have to get back to you on that)!
So, to make paneer you need to have 3 things:
- Organic Whole milk (raw milk is best, pasteurized is ok, but avoid ultra pasteurized milk)
- Lemon Juice (or apple cider vinegar)
- Optional: Any other spices/herbs that you like
First you want to heat your milk over medium until it starts to foam and climb the sides of your pot. I’ve done this with 2 cups and also with 5 cups. It doesn’t matter as long as you know how many cups of milk you use. Stir constantly so it won’t burn. Once it foams up, turn off the heat but leave the pot right where it is on the stove.
Next, you’ll need to add your lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar). I have tried both and definitely prefer the flavor of the lemon juice. You need to add 2 tsp for each cup of milk that you’ve boiled (if you are doing a small batch and used 2 cups add 4 tsp of lemon juice). Stir this into your hot milk while it’s still on the stove for about 10 minutes. You will notice the curds and whey separating during this time.
Then you’ll need a big bowl and a cheese cloth (or thin cloth such as a handkerchief). Spread the cloth over your bowl letting it drape over the outside. Then pour your mixture into the cloth. Give it a good squeeze in the cloth so the whey drips into the bowl. Then open your cloth and add your spices to your curds while they are still pretty soggy. Continue to squeeze the whey until the curds form a nice solid ball. Then, before it cools, put it in a tiny dish. If you don’t have a cheese molding dish, just use a measuring cup or a wide shallow drink glass (I used a short wide wine glass). Press it into the container of your choice, the quicker you do this the easier it will form.
Then cover it (I used a small saucer) and put it in the refrigerator. I like to leave it overnight so I know it’s good and cold. You can pry it out of the mold by going around the edges with a butter knife. Then slice and enjoy however you choose. It’s really that easy!
Oh, and you are certainly wondering what to do with all that whey (the liquid part) in your bowl, right? Pour it into ice cube trays and make yourself a nice container of whey ice cubes. You can put these in smoothies or soups for extra protein, and stop buying that whey protein powder for your shakes!
How would you enjoy Homemade Paneer?