Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cheese Please

Delicious paneer

Josh and I have been making cheese lately. It's such a fun process and the outcome is amazing - hot & fresh cheese! What more could you want? It all started a few years ago when I was hungry for paneer and had no place to buy it in the small town we were living in. I found a recipe online and realized that paneer is not hard to make at home.

Cheese makin' ingredients

Last Christmas I gave Josh a DIY cheese kit, with instructions and tools for making mozzarella, chevre, queso blanco, ricotta, and of course paneer. The kit has been really fun and helpful. So far we have made mozzarella once, and paneer several times. Here's an online recipe for making paneer with 1/2 gallon of milk and lemon juice to curdle the milk:  Or you can get a cheese kit like we did. Basically you boil the milk until it hits 190 degrees fahrenheit. Then you lower the heat and add in your citric acid or lemon juice. As you stir in the acidic liquid, the milk magically starts to curdle. It is so fun to watch!

The boiling milk starts to curdle after you add lemon juice or citric acid

After the curds are completely separated from the whey, the whey will look watery and yellow, then you can strain out the whey with a colander and cheesecloth.

Draining the whey from the curds

The curds will still have some water in them, so next (after they cool slightly) you can squeeze the water out of the cheesecloth. After you squeeze out as much water as you can, you place a heavy weight on top of the curds to help them firm up and stick together. The curds need to sit with the weight on them for about one hour.

The big squeeze!

Weighing down the curds with flour and sugar!

Freshly wheyless weighed-down cheese

After the weight is over, your cheese is ready! I suggest you try some right away because it is sooo good warm. Last time I made paneer I made a bread dough while the milk was boiling. Later that night I ate my fresh bread with a slab of fresh cheese on top and dipped it in rosemary/lavender olive oil. Oh my goodness - it was amazing!

Fresh bread - recipe in The Joy of Cooking

Fresh bread with fresh cheese - this is what heaven tastes like!