Basic Cheesemaking (Part 3) – Paneer

Ah, paneer – cheese of joy! The first cheese we learned to make because it wasn’t sold where we lived, and we really missed it. It’s so simple, you don’t even need a video – honestly. The technique is very similar to Weeks 1 and 2, so if you’ve had a go at these you can totally make paneer.

You need

  • 1L full-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • a pinch of salt
  • a sieve or colander
  • a muslin or cheese cloth
  • a tin of something (beans, tomatoes, whatever – from your pantry) or a cheese mould. These are optional – see below. It depends on how you are going to press your cheese.

If you want to make more cheese, add your milk, lemon juice and salt measurements accordingly. The fatter your milk, the more cheese you end up with.

How to make paneer

Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir in your pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Take it off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Leave it to stand for 15 mins to give the milk a chance to separate into curds and whey – I keep my teacosy on it during this time. 

Line a sieve or colander with a piece of muslin or cheesecloth, and ladle your curds into this with a slotted spoon. When all the curds are in the muslin’ed sieve, gather up your muslin and squeeze out the whey – make sure none of the curds spill out at the top.

Next it’s time to press your curds. There are different ways to do this, and the goal is to get as much of the whey out as you can so that the cheese becomes firm:

1) hang your muslin with the curds in it from your tap – tie a knot in the top of the muslin and leave it to drain. It’s own weight will press the curds.

2) put the muslin with the curds back into the sieve, and weigh it down with something. A plate and a tin of something will work nicely for this

3) decant your curds into a cheese mould (or yoghurt pot with lots of holes poked in), put a bit of parchment paper on top, and weigh it down with a tin of something.

Leave your cheese to be pressed for 15 mins, then put it in the fridge for an hour to set and firm further. If you are going with options 2) or 3) for draining you can move the hole setup to the fridge.

You’re done! You’ve made paneer! You can now eat this, or cook with it.

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