At our house, we get milk delivered to our doorstep, every other day. It is GREAT: no plastic bottle waste, instead we can return the empty glass bottles to the doorstep to be re-used, we rarely have to run to the shop to get milk for our tea, and we are supporting local farmers and dairy producers.
However. There are lots of us who live together, and over the summer we all went away at different times. It meant that milk consumption was sporadic, and there was more than one occasion where the amount in our fridge was far more than we could drink, and a couple of bottles started turning sour. Time to throw it down the sink?
I found a nifty recipe when I was travelling around India with my mum. Paneer cheese. It is the easiest thing to make, you can’t really go wrong, and it is tasty, either just to eat from the fridge or particularly if you cook it in a curry like this one.
The rule here is use milk that is “on the turn”: smelling slightly sour but not gross, where the milk has not yet separated or curdled on top. When it gets really stinky and separated, nothing can be done, it has to go down the sink. So catch it while you can. Also, this will not work with UHT milk. This works best with whole milk.
1. Heat the milk
Gently, stirring often and particularly making sure it doesn’t burn onto the bottom of the pan. Heat until it is just beginning to bubble (not boiling).
2. Add lemon juice or vinegar
Add one or two tablespoons, depending on how much milk you have. I have done it with varying amounts and it doesn’t seem to matter if you put too much in, but don’t go overboard…
Gently stir, you will see the milk start to separate. Then cover the pan and leave for a few minutes.
3. Stir your curds and whey
Just like Little Miss Muffett.
If not all separated, add a bit more juice or vinegar. Let it settle for a minute or two.
4. Scoop into a cheesecloth, or a tea towel
Carefully scoop or pour into a cloth over a sieve over a bowl. Let the liquid drain out, and squeeze it out too. Let it hang a bit to get rid of all the whey.
5. Add salt
Open the cheesecloth and sprinkle in a pinch to a teaspoon of salt. I have been know to add dried mixed herbs too, but that’s just me.
6. Press the cheese.
Put the cheese-filled cloth bag on a plate, and add weights on top to press it down. Here we just used jars from the cupboard.
Leave it like this for about an hour. Once pressed, your cheese is made! You can use it immediately or refrigerate for up to two days. Refrigerated paneer will be firmer and less likely to crumble than fresh paneer.