2.8.10 Curds & Whey
Paneer (Fresh Cheese)
- — 1 gallon (16 cups) whole milk
- — 7-8 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat milk in a large pot over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally. (If you rinse the pot with cold water first, it helps prevent sticking.) Just before the boiling point (milk will start to steam), turn off the heat. One tablespoon at a time, stir in the lemon juice. Keep slowly stirring for several minutes as the curds separate from the whey and bob to the surface.
Place a large colander in the sink and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth or a large, clean gauzy dish towel (like a flour sacking towel). Pour the separated milk into the colander, letting the whey drain into a bowl so you can use it for something else. Rinse the curds with cold water to remove the taste of lemon. Let it rest in the sink for a few minutes to drain out liquid, then gather the edges of the cheesecloth and create a compact bundle, pressing the curds into a ball. I like to tie a piece of kitchen twine around the neck of this and hang it over the sink to drain out as much liquid as possible (see above). Place a bowl underneath so you can save the whey. If this sink arrangement isn't convenient for you, you can suspend it anywhere over a bowl.
After 3-4 hours of hanging/drainage, take the curds out and divide them into two balls. Flatten and mold these into two 4"x4" squares with your hands and wrap them separately in cheesecloth. Stack them on top of each other on a baking sheet and find a heavy pot lid or can to weight them down. Let them drain for another 3-4 hours, pouring off (and saving) any whey that drains onto the baking sheet. At this point, the paneer will be a firm, dry cake that is ready to eat. You can also wrap it in saran and refrigerate for up to a week.