Monday, May 7, 2012

Homemade cheese!

After at least fifteen years of thinking I was going to try cheese making at almost any moment, we finally did it: on Sunday Liam and I made homemade paneer cheese and today we cooked it up into saag paneer and it was delicious.

I have no fewer than four books on home cheese/yogurt/butter making, but it was this book, Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila, that finally got me over whatever was holding me back.  This really is a great book.  As nice to just read as it is to cook from; I've been toting it back and forth form the living room to the kitchen since it arrived.

Cheese making in what must be its most basic form pretty much couldn't have been easier.  I iced the pot and then heated half a gallon of whole milk to a slow boil.  I let it go for one minute, and then added acid (lemon juice for me) one tablespoon at a time until we got curds and whey.  It took about 3 and a half tablespoons.  I separated the curds from the whey and drained the cheese.  Pressed it flat, salted it (just a little), and done.   I followed these instructions for paneer cheese.  Mine was definitely a first attempt.  It came out a little dense, which I think was too much acid and probably too much draining.  But it was still very good.

Liam helped with every step. He squeezed the lemon for the lemon juice.  He helped add the juice, and he helped stir it in to see the curds and whey.

We drained the whey and tasted the cheese (Good!).  We let the cheese drip for a while and then pressed it flat.  While we waited the approximately 100 years it took for the milk to reach a slow boil, Liam smashed the spice mix together for saag paneer.  (Which tonight he refused to eat.  Scrambled eggs and broccoli for Liam; but the vegan made a special exception so I didn't have to eat all of the paneer myself!)

The method for making paneer is nearly the same as for  homemade ricotta, which will definitely be my next try unless I skip straight to mozzarella.   What do you know. . .homemade cheese!

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