Homemade Paneer

Homemade Paneer

Paneer is a firm, sort of springy and chewy Indian cheese. The beauty of it, (well, one of the beauties of it) is that it doesn't melt, so you can add it to hot dishes in place of meat. It is most often found in the completely divine, (but not so attractive) Indian dish known as Palak Paneer. Try using it in place of firm tofu sometime. You'll be delighted with the texture and it absorbs flavors like a sponge!

Homemade Paneer

1/2 gallon milk (whole or 2%)
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

You're also going to need a colander and some cheesecloth or a well worn kitchen towel (most importantly, one that doesn't have any fuzz coming off of it. You don't want fuzzy cheese!)

Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth or a thinly worn kitchen towel. If you are going to make something with the whey, (great added into smoothies!) set the colander over a bowl to catch it. If not, skip the bowl and let it go down the sink.

Pour the milk into a large pot or saucepan. Bring it to a boil on medium high heat. Watch it closely. Once it is boiling, it will boil over really fast. The picture below was a click away from it spilling all over my burners.

When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Stir with a wooden spoon until the milk separates completely separates into curds and whey like in the picture below. If it doesn't seem to be separating, add that third tablespoon of lemon juice.

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth or towel-lined colander. When it's cool enough to handle, gather the corners of the cheesecloth into a bundle and squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as you can. Really, squeeze.

I hung it over the sink and let it drip a little while longer after I squeezed the living daylight out of it. You can skip this step but I find that the less liquid, the firmer the cheese.

Set the bundle in the middle of a plate with an edge so that the liquid that will be squeezed out won't run all over the place. Put another plate on top and press until the bundle has flattened into a 1-inch disk. Leave the plate on and weight it down with something heavy like some canned goods or a brick.

Tah-dah! You just made cheese!! (Those little grey spots are a couple of lemon seeds) I cube it up for palak paneer (check out this recipe too!), but don't cut it until you are ready to use it or it will dry out rather fast. Enjoy you cheesemaker you!