making paneer

baby goats were born at catherine ferguson academy  a couple of week’s ago.  a total of five, with royal gem and tabitha both producing two and apple one.  this means that wednesday chores now take more time, as baby goats must be fed.  this is difficult without at least one other person, as the intent is to get each kid a pint of milk, but they keep dropping the bottles, climbing on top of each other and butting into the bottles.   trying to feed five kids at one time is a challenge, but i’m up for it and i try, and they are very cute.

kids

call me a racist – but i have a special love for the little white goat.  maybe it’s just that it’s the only white kid and i love a novelty.  maybe it’s that it reminds me of apple – who has the nicest teats of all the goats and so i have a good association.  i had to include this profile shot.  it was pure luck that i got it, trying to get a good shot of the kids is tough, as soon as i try to take their picture they try to head butt the camera, so most of the shots i’ve taken are little more than a picture of the tops of their heads coming at me.

little white kid

of course kids mean a rise in milk production.

milking

lots of milk – we have getting something like 2 gallons each time we milk.  the kids drink about a gallon and a half – leaving us with a gallon and a half.  enough to make yogurt, cheese and use in coffee.  paneer tends to be the thing we do when we are at a loss of just what else to do with the milk.  paneer or farmers cheese as it’s often called is a fresh cheese made using an acid to separate the curd from the whey instead of the usual rennet, and it has no culture in it so it requires no aging.  it creates a mild, tasty, simple cheese that is about the easiest thing to make.  it’s a great starting point for anyone wanting to start making cheese.

Step 1. gently bring the strained milk to a boil

heating the milk

use low heat and stir often to prevent burning – using a heat diffuser works great if you have one.  a crushed bi-metal can will work in a bind.

step 2. – add the acid

curds formed after adding acid

once it come to a boil i pour in a slow stream until it begins to form curds – i would guess a little over a tablespoon per half gallon, but it really varies by acidity.  you can use almost anything acidic – vinegar, lemon or lime juice, i’ve even used yogurt.  since these have slightly different acidities it may take more or less.  just add it slowly and when you see curds start to form – stop.  let it rest for 10 minutes off of heat.  it’s not really a big deal if you add too much acid – it wont mess it up, just make it taste sour.

step 3.  separate the curds from the whey

draining curds

i put some cheese cloth in a colander and then spoon the curds out with a slotted spoon, but you can just pour it all though, or you can use a old t-shirt if you don’t mind it smelling like goat milk.  this is cheese cloth saved from the compost pile

step 4 – fold the cheese cloth over the curds

the panner all dressed up and ready to go

from now on, everything is optional – i’ve used unpressed paneer as a more crumbly soft cheese – but usually i fold over the cheese cloth and press it.  i used to always make it into rounds, but realized lately it makes more sense to make a more oblong loaf as i get more uniform pieces when i slice it.

step 5 – press to remove excess water

the paneer with weight on top

i use another cutting board or plate and then make a weight out of a jar or in this case just a plastic bowl filled with water.  i like using water for weight as it allows me more flexibility to make it weigh more by adding water, or less by taking water out.  i also can decide how hard and dry the cheese i want it to be by how long i press it.  most of the time i press for under and hour – closer to 1/2 hour to 45 minutes.  traditional indian recipes call for 3 hour pressing – it’s up to you.

step 6 – the finished product

finished paneer

at this point it’s ready to go – i usually pan fry it in a dry skillet and then add it to curries – but it also works pretty well in any place that you would use tofu.  you can even put it in a brine solution and age it.  making cheese couldn’t be any easier.

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4 responses to “making paneer

  1. I badly want to do this, but I don’t have access to a goat. Can I use regular cow’s milk?

    If so, I guess I should probably use whole milk, right?

    Your pal,
    Chris

  2. my pal chris,

    i’ve only made this with goat milk, but cow’s milk is the traditional material so it should work fine. i have seen in other recipes for cheese that you should stay away from the ultra-pasteurized stuff so i’d recommend that. whole milk would be the best as it will give you the highest yield. and thanks for the plug.

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  4. Okay. I will try cows milk and report back, provided I remember to do so.

    On the plug, I’m just giving credit where it’s due.

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