Recently, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at making some homemade cheese, particularly in the style of Indian paneers.
I brought my homemade cheese, in both plain and curry-flavore,d to my knitting group, and they were both a hit. If you do an internet search of “homemade cheese paneer” you will get lots of how-tos and recipes, but by request, here is how I made my version of the cheese. Please note that I don’t really measure when I cook, so some of the measurements are rough estimates.
Ingredients & Tools:
- 1 gallon Organic Whole Milk
- lemon juice (I used lemon juice that I had squeezed and frozen into ice cubes before the citrus season ended.)
- large pot (I used a large quality 18/8 stainless steel dutch oven)
- 1 large spoon for stirring
- salt (optional)
- heavy object(s)
- Pour milk into large pot and bring to a slow boil over medium-low heat. Stir frequently to prevent burning the milk.
- Once the milk boils, it will get kind of frothy (fig 1).
- Add lemon juice slowly and stir. I ended up using 3 cubes. Milk will being to curdle (fig. 2) and you’ll start to see it separate from the whey (the yellow liquid). It actually looks kind of weird and gross, IMO, but don’t let that deter you.
- Once it totally separates (figs 3 & 4), turn off heat. When the curds are cool enough to handle, pour or scoop them into a cheesecloth laid over a collander. Wrap the cheesecloth tightly over the curds and squeeze out the excess liquid. At this point, I very lightly salted the curds with a large pinch of salt.
- Hang the cheesecloth wrapped curds to drip and drain for about 30 minutes or so.
- Place the cheesecloth wrapped curds onto a plate. Place another plate or some plastic wrap on top, and then add your heavy object on top to press for about 1 hour. I used a cast iron skillet.
- Unwrap your cheese, cut into cubes and store into an airtight container. Or, you can just wrap the whole uncut cheese in plastic wrap.
- Eat and enjoy!!!
left (fig. 1): milk getting frothy; right (fig. 2): milk starting to curdle after half of the lemon juice was added.
left (fig. 3): milk totally curdled and separated from the whey; right (fig. 4): close-up of separated curds.
I totally made this one up as I went along. I basically tossed half of the cheese cubes (well, half of what was left from me munching on it) into a some random spices that I mixed together from my spice cabinet. I really don’t measure when I cook, and this one was no exception, so they are guesstimates and you should season yours to your own tastes. Here’s what I added from my kitchen:
- pinch or two of Coarse Sea Salt
- pinch of Garam Masala (If you don’t have an Indian grocer in your area, you can find this in some of the specialty gourmet markets. If you don’t have this, a generic curry powder mix will work too)
- pinch of dried Organic Oregano
- half a pinch of Paprika
- half a pinch of Coriander
- half a pinch of Cumin
- half a pinch of Tumeric
- half a pinch of Curry Powder
- small dash of Onion Powder
- a few dashes of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Unfortunately, my friends and I ate all the curried cheese before I remembered to take photos of them. I guess that’s a good thing too, because that means they liked it. I can’t wait to make thme again.