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Paneer

Paneer is a magical fresh cheese that's commonly found in Indian dishes. This dense delight is perfect for braising, sautéing and in general just cooking in a sauce for a long time. The best part is, you can make it from scratch and it only takes a few minutes of work.

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Yield

1 lb

Time

About 12-24 hours total (45 min active)

Ingredients

120 mlAcid (distilled white vinegar or lemon juice)1 GallonWhole milkto tasteSalt

Instructions

1Denature
1 GallonMilk

Heat milk, stirring constantly in a large pot over medium-low flame until the temperature reads 190° F (88°C) If you don’t have a thermometer this can be done by heating until the milk smells like warm tapioca pudding and begins to boil.

2Add Acid
120mlAcid

Once your milk has reached the denaturing temperature, (190°F/88°C) turn off your heat, continue stirring and slowly add your distilled white vinegar or lemon juice.

When curds begin to appear and whey looks bright yellow or green with little clouding, stop adding your acid.

Give the mixture a final stir and allow the curds to rest on the stove for 5 minutes.

3Strain

While resting, set up your straining area by placing a colander inside a bowl large enough to contain your excess whey. Place your cheese cloth inside the colander with ends draping over the sides.

After the 5 minute rest, pour your whey and curds into your prepared cheese cloth. Allow the curds to strain for 60 minutes at room temperature.

4Salt
to tasteSalt

After 60 minutes, sprinkle salt on the remaining curds and give it a quick stir to incorporate. Taste. If you need more salt, add gradually, stirring in between until you reach a flavor you’re happy with.

Once you’ve reached a flavor you’re happy with, gather the ends of the cheese cloth into your hand making a ball of cloth covered cheese, give the curds a quick squeeze to get out as much whey as possible.

5Rest
If you have cheese molds or a tofu press and catch tray, feel free to use instead

Once you’ve got as much whey squeezed out as you can, twist up your cheese cloth, wrapping the curds completely and place the curds back in the colander.

Next place your very heavy soup can on top of the cloth and let straining continue in the fridge overnight or 12-24 hours.

6Check
If you have excess whey, avoid putting it down your drain and simply discard in a garden or dump outside. Leftover whey is extremely nutrient rich and while plants love it, if whey ends up in rivers or lakes it can quickly create algal blooms that reduce oxygen in the water, killing fish and other aquatic life.

Check on your cheese after 12 hours. If the cheese slices with a knife and leaves no crumbles, unwrap and either cube and cook right away or keep whole in a container in your fridge for up to 7 days.

If after 12 hours the cheese is not compact, give the cloth another twist, squeeze any excess whey and place back in the fridge with a heavier object pressing down on the cheese for another 12 hours.