Occasionally it’s refreshing to swap the chefs whites for a lab coat, and the heat of our 4 Michelin star/1 AA Rosette kitchen, for the cool sterile environment of the laboratory. Today, we are performing a simple experiment of adding vinegar to warm milk, stirring, straining, squeezing and cooling. In short, cheese making.
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes
Skill level: if you can read a thermometer, zero
- whole (blue top) milk – 2 litres
- cider vinegar – 50 ml
Pour the milk into a non-reactive pan (stainless steel or enamel) and slowly heat to 80°C or if using just your senses, to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent it burning on the bottom of the pan.
Once you’ve hit temperature, turn off the heat, pour in the vinegar and stir. The milk will immediately curdle and start to split into curds and whey.
Leave for 10 minutes to finishing curdling.
Line a colander with muslin.
Transfer the solid curds into the muslin using a slotted spoon.
Gather up the muslin into a ball and twist tightly to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
Sandwich between two cutting boards and weigh down with something heavy. Leave to drain for 10 minutes. (Forgot to photograph this)
Remove the squashed block of paneer from the muslin and place in a large bowl of cold water for 20 minutes.
Done. Like Alex James, you are now a cheese maker.
I’d recommend refrigerating for an hour or two to firm up, but this is not essential and it can be used right away.
Keep the whey (don’t throw it awhey) as it is full of nutritional tastiness and makes a great base for soups.
Verdict: Obviously it’s easier to buy pre-made paneer from your local paneerery, but that would be far less satisfying. The result (of not too much effort) is a fresh, firm textured vegetarian cheese which makes the perfect conduit for all sorts of spicy South Asian flavours. A particularly fragrant example from the extensive yumblog archives is this Tandoori Paneer – delicious, easy to make and a favourite of none other than Mr Prudence himself.
Entertainment: The final of series 3 of ‘Lego Masters Australia’. Brickman cried.