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Old 06-03-2009, 04:12 PM   #1
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Default made my first cheese last night (making paneer with weirdboy)

Unfortunately I didn't make anything special, just a pound of paneer. But one has to start somewhere. I really love paneer. The best thing about paneer is that it requires no rennet, which makes an easy transition into cheese making for people who want to try making cheese, but don't want to invest in a bunch of specialized ingredients and equipment.

Making paneer is something I'd been thinking about for a while and just too lazy to actually try it out. Until yesterday, when I just said "screw it", and walked to the store to buy a gallon of milk and a few limes. It turns out my timing is impeccable, as the milk was on sale and it was actually cheaper to buy a gallon than half a gallon for some odd reason.

The process was surprisingly easy. Except when I piled a bunch of weight on the cheese to compress it and the thing on top was my tin of AP flour, which slid off at one point and dumped all over the kitchen floor.


So, here's me making paneer:

I pour my gallon of milk into a pot, and start heating it.


Then I take my limes and get the juice out of them. You might have more sophisticated techniques, but I use my little cheese grater thingy pictured, flip around the lid onto the smooth side, and then push the lime against that so it drains into the cup.


This is what I get after 4 or 5 limes


Then I need a drainage system, so I line a colander with some cheesecloth. I experimentally determined that you can just as easily use a (clean and sanitized) dishtowel as cheesecloth.


But what to drain into? Well, I happen to have a rice cooker. Any my colander is actually the steam tray that came with the rice cooker. It turned out to be a really handy way to drain the liquid.

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Old 06-03-2009, 04:26 PM   #2
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After a while, my milk finally starts boiling. I had been stirring occasionally, and when it started boiling, I turned off the heat and skimmed the crud from the surface. I don't know if that's actually necessary, but it seemed like a sensible thing to do.


Once I skimmed the surface, I stirred in my lime juice. It didn't take long before the curds and whey separated.


Then I dumped the contents into my rice cooker/steamer/cheesecloth. At this point I added some kosher salt and cracked pepper as a bit of additional flavoring to the cheese.


I pulled up the corners of the cheesecloth as best I could and squeezed out excess liquid in the sink and also ran a bit of cold water. The cold water removed some of the citrus flavor, which I liked and probably won't remove as much next time, but it also kept my fingers from burning too much while I was squeezing boiling hot liquid out of the curds.


This is what it looks like after I've squeezed it out initially.


Then I put it back in the steamer contraption, put a plate on top, and just piled weight on it for a couple of hours. I forgot to take a picture of this step, but imagine a bunch of random junk piled on top of a rice cooker, and you're pretty close to what it looked like. Next time, I might just try closing the rice cooker with a little bit of stuff on top to act as a spacer between the cheese and the lid, creating pressure that way.

Anyway, this is what my cheese bundle looked like after a couple of hours.


So I pulled it out of there, unwrapped it, and flipped it onto the plate I had been using to compress it. Oh yeah, and cut off a bit and ate it. Yummy!


So, that was it! The amount of work involved was much less than I expected. In fact I would go so far as to say it was much easier than doing a batch of beer. Don't have to worry about temperature control, etc.

I couldn't figure out how to wrap my cheesecloth around the curds to make a pretty round that didn't have an indentation. I'm sure the smart people here will chime in and tell me what I did wrong.


One last thing: I've got a bunch of whey now, which according to my research I cannot make into ricotta (my original plan) because I used citric acid to separate my curds. So, other than baking some bread, what can I do with all this stuff? I do plan to bake some bread, but a little liquid goes a long way (whey?) when you're baking bread, and I'm going to have a bunch left over even after that.

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Old 06-03-2009, 04:34 PM   #3
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Looks good - and you can make ricotta from the left over whey - about 1-2 cups worth.

Ricotta Making Illustrated

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Old 06-04-2009, 10:50 AM   #4
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I've heard it gives pasta a nice flavor when cooked in whey.

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Old 06-04-2009, 01:59 PM   #5
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It's barely whey. All the proteins would have precipitated out when you added the acid. It is basically lactose, niacin (giving it that lovely green color) and water now. Not good for much.

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