Day 343: Cheese Making

paneerInspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which I’m currently in the midst of reading, and which informed me that it only takes 1 hour to make fresh mozzarella, I thought I’d try my hand at making a little fromage.

I’d been putting it off for awhile, being too lazy to look for rennet which is essential to the cheesemaking process (although I have heard you can get it at Famous Foods on Kingsway).

Anyway, then I stumbled upon the Purple Foodie where Shaheen had recently posted about how to make paneer, the Indian cheese. It turns out that making paneer takes even less time than mozarella and you don’t need rennet!

All you do is bring 1 litre of whole milk to a rolling boil and add 2 tsp acid like lime juice or vinegar.  When the  milk curdles, you let it sit for a few minutes and then strain it through cheese cloth, and it’s good to go.  The recipe said to press it for an hour or so, but I just did it for 5 minutes and it ended up similar to dry ricotta.

Let me tell you that ricotta is something that I haven’t had all year (During the year we’ve been getting progressively more stringent about plastic, so I haven’t been buying soft cheeses), so this was beyond exciting.

If we had waited longer, it would have created a “patty” of paneer that could be cubed and put in curry etc.  But we obviously couldn’t wait, so we crumbled it into pasta, added some tomatoes and basil, and ate it all up.  I will definitely be doing this one again!

Thanks to Shaneen for the awesome recipes and to Barbara Kingsolver, author of the aforementioned book that is seriously influencing my food choices these days.



Filed under DIY, food

12 responses to “Day 343: Cheese Making

  1. This? Looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it. I’m limited to un-aged cheeses (migraines — gross), so I’m always on the lookout for new stuff. Thanks for bringing homemade paneer to my attention. Did you try it with herbs?

  2. I’m so happy to see that you enjoyed the paneer! :))
    What ties plastic and ricotta together? I’m really curious because we don’t get ricotta here. Thanks!

  3. Oh because they come in plastic tubs? That is so conscientious of you!

  4. this sounds fab – how inspiring and intriguing too. Cheese in five minutes – who would have thought!

    I’ll be giving this a go too. Thanks!

  5. Catherine

    I just loved that!! First, yogourt (which I still have to try) and now, cheese! Can’t wait to try it 🙂

    Thanks for being such an inspiration

  6. Mark

    I have been experimenting with making our own cheeses, from Brick cheese to paneer/ queso campesino. I’m curious how you buy your milk? Do you bring the jug back to be refilled each time, are you buying directly from somewhere? I would guess that if you are buying milk like most of society, you are generating a lot of waste.

    • We get our milk in refillable glass bottles. Unfortunately they are only 1 litre each, so that means that there is a plastic lid per litre (we are able to recycle it though). I don’t think it’s possible to buy direct around here, but I honestly haven’t looked into it. I will note that it is surprising how little cheese you get out of so much milk.
      You’ve been making brick cheese too eh? I’m definitely impressed.
      I also have a question for you Mark. What do you do with the whey, or whatever you call the murky liquid you press out of the cheese? I have read you can make dough with it or use it when you’re cooking rice, but have yet to try it. it seems a waste just to put it down the sink.

      • Mark

        Hi Jen,
        I have looked into ‘buy direct’ milk, but it is against the law (in Alberta) for a farmer to sell raw milk at the farm gate, and can incur a huge fine on the seller. This is really unfortunate and another one of the ways that the food industry is ‘looking out for us’ when we should be able to do that ourselves. I think the issue is that you could get sick from the bacteria in unprocessed milk. This doesn’t make any sense to me since you can also get very sick from eating raw hamburger, raw chicken, raw pork, etc. but these things are widely available. Cheese turns out better when you can work with unhomogenized milk, and this is a problem with store bought milk.
        Here are a couple of links if you like

        Glengarry is a Canadian company and they are very helpful on the phone. Unfortunately ordering over the phone means you will undoubtedly get a bunch of packaging when your stuff ships. If you go to New England Cheese ( you will find a recipe for the microwave mozzarella, which I have found works well. Just be careful when you add the salt. Too much salt ruins the cheese.

        With respect to the Whey, if you are making ricotta/ paneer, you can’t do too much with it. If you are making a ‘bacteria’ cheese, you can make ricotta with the whey the same way you described, but your yield will be lower because you will already have taken most of the protein and fat out of the milk. My wife is from Colombia, and what they do with the whey is use it for making hot chocolate in place of milk or water. I imagine you could use it if you were making a cream soup, mashed potatoes, or other such things. I haven’t tried it, but apparently you can also pour it in your garden. I’m not sure if you might attract pests that way though. We have used it for making hot chocolate and it is good that way.

        If you ever get to making a cultured cheese, you will see how much work it can be. I can’t see how a company can make money at it unless they have the scale to make A LOT at a time. I can put easily put 3 or 4 hours into making a 2 kg block of cheese.

        Where do manage to buy milk in refillable glass bottles?

      • I made paneer this week off your post, and mixed the whey with a bit of vegetable stock to make quinoa. It had a fresh, clean flavor. I’m debating using the rest to make pasta, or to water my lovely onion plants with. Hey — those nutrients have to go somewhere. Might as well be my garden.

  7. rhy

    wowza! that’s awesome jenny. . . . on the note of local food I found this website with a map/local food directory where you could maybe source out local milk directly from the source??

    the online map doesn’t seem to be fully working yet, or it might just be this computer, but it looks like you can also get hardcopies of the map.

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  9. I’ve made paneer, but not for a long time – it was so easy and so good. I made it right before dinner while chatting with a friend. One-handed cheese! My recipe was from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, I think. Thanks for the reminder.

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