From Emily Buehler, our Website Coordinator:
A visit to Chapel Hill Creamery prompted me to try making paneer at home. It seemed pretty simple: use an acid to separate the milk into curds and whey. Drain off the whey, knead the curds to make them smooth, and voila! A fresh homemade cheese that can be fried. I decided to use acidic buttermilk. (The women at the creamery used lemon juice.)
The paneer was easy to make, but it felt wasteful to throw out all that whey; at the creamery, they keep pigs to feed it to, since they are not allowed to dump vast quantities of it down the drain. Also, while the final amount of cheese seemed very small, I found that it lasted a long time; you can only eat so much rich, homemade cheese at once.
- 1 gallon milk
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 1 cup canola oil for frying
- cheesecloth (you can buy a roll of this near the kitchen items in our stores; I used about a third of it)
- salt for frying (optional)
- Heat the milk in a large pot. Make sure there is extra space because it will quickly rise and overflow when it boils. Keep an eye on it and stir as it heats up.
- As soon as it starts to boil, pour in the buttermilk in a steady stream and stir. The milk will separate. Turn off heat, stir a little longer, and remove pot from heat.
- Place the cheesecloth in a colander and pour the milk mixture through it. Let it drain for several hours or until it stops dripping. You can pick up the edges of the cheesecloth to help it drip.
- Blend the curds to make them smooth. You can do this in a food processor or by kneading with a “mush and fold” kind of movement.
- Form a ball and wrap in plastic. Put in the fridge overnight or until you are ready to use it.
- Heat the oil in a skillet on medium high. Cut the paneer into bite-sized pieces and fry them until pale golden brown. Add salt if desired. Drain on paper towels.
I found the pieces to be crumbly, probably because I did not knead very well; in the end I just gave up on trying to have discreet pieces of paneer and fried the whole crumbled mess like scrambled eggs. It still tasted good.
Here are some photos of paneer-making at Chapel Hill Creamery in 2011: