Homemade Paneer Cheese

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Homemade paneer cheese
Paneer, also known as Indian cottage cheese, is made by curdling milk with something sour, such as yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar, and then separating the curds from the whey. This soft, spongy cheese with its sweet, milky aroma is preservative-free, has no artificial additives, and can be made with low-fat or whole milk. Paneer cheese can be served as part of an antipasto platter, giving it an Italian twist with salt, pepper, chopped fresh basil and balsamic vinegar or as a caprese salad with fresh plum tomato and basil.

Ingredients

        ½ gallon (2 liters) low-fat or whole milk

        ½ cup (125 ml) fresh lemon juice

        2-ft (60-cm) square piece of fine muslin or layers of cheesecloth.

Instructions

Step 1:
Place the milk in a large, heavy saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat. Just before the milk comes to a boil, add the lemon juice and continue to stir until the milk curdles and separates into curds and whey, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.

Step 2:
Drape the muslin or cheesecloth over a strainer and place both over a large pot to catch the whey. Pour the cheese curds and whey into the muslin-lined strainer. Tie the ends of the cloth together and hang to drain over a sink. Allow to drain 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 3:
Twist the cloth around the cheese to press out excess whey, then place the cheese between two plates. Place a large pan of water or a heavy saucepan on the top plate and let the cheese drain further, 10 to 20 minutes.

Step 4:
Take the weight o­ the cheese (which, by now, should have compressed into a chunk), cut the cheese into desired shapes and sizes and use as needed. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator 4 to 5 days or freeze up to 4 months.

VariationPaneer cheese can also be made with about 1 cup (80 g) fresh chopped herbs, such as basil, tarragon or mint.

Food: Homemade Paneer Cheese

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