There is nothing quite like natural cheese and if you like to cook then you can do the cheese making process yourself! You can use the finest in dairy milk and choose which flavors you want to go into your cheese. Making cheese isn’t something that is effortless cooking. It does take some effort and there is sometimes a long cure time involved, but it is totally worth it!
How to Make the Indian Cheese Called Paneer
Paneer is made fairly easily and it is a cheese that is made in northern India. If you are into northern Indian cuisine, this cheese is a must have. It is a delicate cheese that is a bit like cottage cheese but also a little bit like tofu. As a matter of fact, many people will substitute tofu in their Indian dishes that call for paneer if they don’t know how to make it.
4 cups of whole cow’s milk
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Pour the milk into a pot and get it to a good simmer, but not quite boiling. If you have a cooking thermometer, it will be about 175 degrees.
Add the lemon juice one teaspoon at a time and stir well after each addition. Eventually you will see the curds separate from the whey. Basically, it’ll get lumpy and the lumps will be sitting in a very thin, off color liquid.
Allow the mixture to cool down to a point where you can handle it. This will take anywhere from ½ an hour to an hour.
Line a strainer with a muslin cloth or use several layers of cheese cloth. Pour the mixture into the strainer to collect the curds. You can save the whey if you want to use it to make bread or other goodies. You can freeze it so that you can use it the next time you make cheese. You can substitute that old whey for the lemon juice.
Rinse the curds with tap water.
Pick up the ends of the cloth and start to squeeze out the whey from the curds by squeezing and twisting. The more water you manage to squeeze out then the firmer your paneer with be.
Shape the paneer into a block and store it in the refrigerator in an air tight container until you are ready to use it. You should use it within a week.
If you would like more information on how to cook Indian food then take a class online.
Paneer Recipe Notes
You can substitute any acid for the lemon juice. You can use any type of vinegar or other citrus fruit juice instead of the lemon juice.
Cottage Cheese Recipe
If you have ever read the ingredients list on a tub of cottage cheese it was likely your inspiration to make your own. Commercial cottage cheese contains all kinds of junk in it. There is mostly cottage cheese but then they add fillers to it to save money by making watery cottage cheese and then thickening it. So, by making your own you can get real cottage cheese that is 100% pure cheese.
Cottage Cheese Recipe Ingredients
2 quarts of skim cow’s milk
¼ cup of fresh Buttermilk (from a just opened carton or bottle)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of cream
Put the milk into a stainless steel pot. You can use a glass pan also, but do not use an aluminum or copper pot. You want a pot that is made of something that will not react with the cheese making process.
Slowly heat the milk to 75-80 degrees then stir in the buttermilk. Cover the pot and keep the temperature between 75-80 degrees for about 24-hours. You will see it turn into a thick mass of cheese with some thin liquid on top. The thin liquid is the whey.
Cut the curd (the thick mass) with a long knife by making long cuts that are about ½” to 1” apart. Then cut in the opposite direction so that you end up with ½” to 1” squares. Let the curd rest for 15 minutes.
Heat a larger stainless steel pot of water to 120 degrees and place your cheese pot in the water in the larger pot to form a double boiler. Leave the pot in this 120 degree water so that the whey will separate from the curd properly. Give it a gentle stir every 5 minutes or so to keep the curd from matting together, but don’t try to break up the curds.
Take the temperature of the curd often and turn up the heat once the curd is at 100 degrees. When the curd gets to 120 degrees hold that temperature for 25 minutes and do more stirring. When the curd doesn’t break apart very easily anymore then it is done.
Line a colander with a couple of layers of cheese cloth and pour your curds and whey into it. Drain off the whey and save it for another use like soup or making bread.
Submerse the colander into cool water for several minutes, stirring to break the curds apart.
Next submerse the colander into ice water and stir to break apart the curds. After a few minutes, remove the colander and set it aside to drain for about ½ hour.
If you would like to add salt then you can turn the curd out into a bowl and stir ½ teaspoon of salt. But the addition of salt is optional.
Add ¼ cup of heavy cream to the cottage cheese. Eat within 2 days. If you have more than you can consume in a couple of days then put a portion away in the freezer. When you want to use it, thaw it out in the refrigerator overnight.
Homemade Mozzarella Cheese Recipe
2 gallons of raw cow’s milk (homogenized milk is ok)
¼ teaspoon thermophilic starter culture
¼ + 1/8th teaspoon of double strength liquid rennet
½ cup filtered water (well water is fine, chlorinated tap water is not)
¼ teaspoon of lipase power
Pour the milk into a large stainless steel pot and heat it to 90-95 degrees.
Stir in the thermophilic culture.
Mix the lipase powder into ¼ cup of the filtered water and stir that into the pot.
Now it is time to ripen this mixture by letting it sit at 90 degrees for 45 minutes. You can turn off the heat, cover it and wrap it up in a towel. If your home is very warm on a hot day, this should be fine. But take the temperature of the solution after about 20 minutes to make sure it is still around 90 degrees. If not, then turn on the heat to bring it back up, turn off the heat and cover your pot again. If it is a cold day and cold inside your home then you will need to turn the heat on and off during that 45 minutes to maintain the 90 degrees.
Once that 45 minutes is up, it is time to start making cheese! Stir in your rennet, cover the pot and let it sit for one hour while keeping it at 90 degrees.
Once that hour is up, you can check to see if you have a good curd. Make a slice in the curd with a knife. You should be able to see where it is cut and the thin liquid (whey) will fill that cut. If you don’t have a clean cut yet, then keep it at 90 degrees, cover it and give it another 30 to 60 minutes and then try again.
When you do get a nice clean cut in the curd, it is time for the next step. Make slices in the curd that are about ½” apart then make more slices in the opposite direction. You should have a pot filled with about 1/2” squares. Let them rest, still at 90 degrees, for 30 minutes.
Stir the curds and see that they are releasing more of the whey and becoming firmer. Now turn up the heat to 100 degrees. Do this slowly, with the heat being turned on and off, stirring in between. This process to get to 100 degrees should take about 30 minutes.
Once you reached 100 degrees, let them rest for 10 minutes.
Strain the whey off the curds by draining them in a colander. Put the curds back in the pot and let them sit at 100 degrees for 3 hours. Check them every 30 minutes to make sure the temperature is still about 100 degrees and to stir them.
Strain the curds again by putting them in a colander. Then cut them into 1” cubes.
Bring several cups of water to a simmer at about 170 degrees in your pot and toss in at least ½ of your batch of curds. Allow the curds to sit in that water for several minutes, stirring to get them to heat evenly. As you stir you will see they start to clump together.
Put on rubber gloves, pull out clumps and stretch the cheese about ten times. If it starts to fall apart then return it to the pot to cook some more because it isn’t ready.
Once your mozzarella ball has been stretched, drop it in to a bowl of cold water. You can add some salt to that water for additional flavor. Do the same to the rest of your batch. Allow the cheese balls to sit it in the cold water for at least 60 minutes.
Remove the cheese from the water, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator.
Raw milk is best to use for this type of cheese, but homogenized will work.
It is best to make mozzarella cheese in the spring. The cow’s milk is different during different seasons and for this type of cheese, the spring season will give you the best stretch in the cheese.
The Cheese Making Process
The cheese making process is a picky one. You must use a stainless steel or glass pot. If you use a copper or aluminum pot then that metal will react with the cheese making process and ruin your batch.
Make certain all utensils, bowls, pots and anything else you use is perfectly clean. If you can boil it before you start the process then do. You do not want to accidentally add mold, bacteria or yeast to your batch, leaving your cheese with an off flavor or spoiled.
The special ingredients you need to make cheese such as rennet and the cultures can usually be purchased online if you cannot find them locally.
If you love the cheese making process and love to cook for friends, you can find a lot of cooking courses online. There are classes on how to cook for certain seasons, cook dishes your kids will love and classes on improving your health with cooking.