Homemade Yogurt, Cheese, and Butter: Part I – Paneer

IMG_2791Ever since I discovered that I can make these things from scratch, I haven’t gone back to store bought.  We make enough Indian food, that it’s just not economical to buy paneer, yogurt, or ghee from the grocery store.  Not to mention that it takes so little time to make a large batch of paneer from scratch and then you can freeze it for later!

The keys to making good paneer are: 1) being careful not to overheat the milk, 2) being careful not to under heat the milk, and 3) pressing the cheese.

large stockpot
slotted spoon
cheese cloth
empty large mason jar or other heavy, clean object

1/2 gallon of whole milk (non-homogenized or raw milk, if you can find it!)
1/4 cup lemon juice, lime juice, or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp salt

1) Line strainer with clean cheesecloth and place into clean sink.
2) Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the stock pot.  Begin warming on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Rest thermometer on the edge of the pot.
3) As the temperature rises to about 150F, the milk will start to become frothy.  This is good, but now is when you’re going to want to keep a better eye on the temperature.  Stir more frequently.
4) When the temperature reaches 200F, add the curdling agent of choice.  We use lemon juice because that’s what our Indian friends recommend!  Any will work, but the curdling agent will impart flavor into the cheese, so choose one that either you like the taste of or that will compliment the dish you are making.
5) Remove from heat and continue stirring about 2 minutes.
6) Pour curds into cheesecloth lined strainer.  Continue stirring for another minute.  Add salt and continue stirring for another minute.  Wind the top of the cheese cloth to release as much whey as possible, place into the strainer, then place the mason jar on top of the cheese.  Fill the mason jar with water, adding as much weight as possible to press the cheese.
7) Let cheese rest for at least 15 minutes, as much as 1 hour is better.
8) Unwrap the cheese and cut it in half.  Use half for dinner, and freeze the other half for later!

thetajTaj Mahal Reflecting Pool.  Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.  2012.


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