Ever thought about taking a cheese making class? Do it! You’ll learn a lot and have fun. Chef Marnie taught my friend Deb and me how to make paneer cheese. She even held our hands through some nervous moments. Well, not literally but you get the gist. So, go for it. Make paneer. When you finally hold your own freshly made cheese you’ll glow with pride.
Paneer is a fresh cheese with a mild flavour and crumbly texture. It’s often used in Indian food like curries. Still, why eat paneer? Because it’s amazing. It’s also a source of protein, calcium and folate and those are things your body needs.
Okay, glad you’re in. We learned that there are four secrets to making good paneer. First start with non-homogenized milk (it will often be organic) for best results. The milk solids and liquids separate. That’s what you want. You don’t want to use ultra-pasteurized because pasteurization changes the protein structure of milk so the solids can’t separate. Second, it’s important to follow the recommended temperature as much as you can even though paneer is a pretty forgiving cheese. Third, and possibly the most important, is to stir vigorously. An aggressive up and down stirring motion redistributes heat and helps you get a better distribution of acids and coagulants. Don’t cry if you spill any of the milk. It just means you’re doing it right. Fourth, don’t use iodized salt. Iodine kills the very live cultures that are necessary to make cheese.
Author: Cuisine et Chateau, Interactive Culinary Centre, Calgary AB
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes
Yield: 6 oz
1000 grams 2% milk, pasteurized, non-homogenized
500 grams buttermilk
¼ tsp fine sea salt
Cumin seeds or chili flakes to taste (optional)
Pour milk into a large stockpot and heat until milk slowly reaches 82 degrees C (185 degrees F).
Remove milk from heat and add buttermilk. Stir vigorously in an up and down motion to combine. Coagulation will start immediately and curds will form after about 2 minutes.
Return pot to heat and bring milk-curd mixture to 90 degrees C (195 degrees F) while gently stirring with a slotted spoon. After 10 minutes of gentle stirring, the curds should form one solid mass.
Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes to allow for further ripening.
Line a colander with cheesecloth and gently ladle the curds into the middle. Tie the corners together and let it drain for 10 minutes.
Untie, add the salt and add spices like cumin seeds or chili flakes. Gently toss the curds to incorporate the salt and spices. Re-tie and drain for another 5 minutes.
Press the cheesecloth allowing a piece of curd to form that is about 1 inch thick. Place over a draining rack and press with a 2-pound weight for 30 minutes. The longer you leave it pressing, the more firm and dry it will be.
Store wrapped in the fridge for up to 5 days. This cheese does not melt easily and can be grilled or used in stir-fries.
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