Make your own cheese

Dear Friends, if you know anything about me, you know just how much I LOVE cheese. I love it all – the sharp cheddar, the freshest mozzarella, the tangiest-bluest-blue cheese, the creamiest brie with a little slice of prosciutto. I can even dig on some Laughing Cow. I mean, guys and gals, I have an unhealthy cheese issue.

And I might actually mean unhealthy. Sadly, we inadvertently cut back on cheese consumption when we moved. We’ve been eating a much better balanced diet following 21 Day Fix (if you want to know more, ask us, we’d love to share!), but following that means less “blue” containers, which are dairy products.

Recently I bought a bag of cheese chunks – OMG so good – and my face broke out in big teenage girl sized zits, I was bloated and gassy, and I realized – cheese is not my friend. ūüė¶ At least in large quantities. So guess what makes me super happy? The idea of making my own small batches of cheese!

Dave’s dad, Threecrows, passed on an extra 1/2 gallon of milk to us recently right before we were supposed to take a trip. I was thinking about what to do with this milk when it hit me – MAKE CHEESE. So friends… here is how I made paneer and ricotta cheese all in the same night, with just 1/2 gallon of milk, some vinegar and some cheese cloth.

It was *surprisingly* easy.

First, ¬†you put the milk on the heat. I kept it at a medium high, ¬†because you don’t want to boil it, ¬†you are going to bring it just under a boil. ¬†You will want to have a wooden spoon handy to scrape the bottom, ¬†too prevent scorching.

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I used a little thermometer to keep an eye out, ¬†and get my milk just to 200 degrees. ¬†I chose to add some fresh rosemary and oregano. ¬†You could leave it plain. I suppose it depends on what you plan to do with your paneer. ¬†I knew we would just be munching it, ¬†and given the fact that it can be very bland, ¬†I thought I’d like to give it a boost.

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Once the milk hits 200, you can kill the heat,  then add 1/4 cup vinegar,  or lemon juice,  to your milk.  You should notice the curds and whey separating pretty instantly.  Put a lid on it and let it do is science thing,  while you go put your feet up and peruse facebook for 15 minutes.

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Once you’ve run out of fresh content on facebook, ¬†you are going to carefully pour the curds and whey into the cheese cloth. ¬†For this step, ¬†you need a pan that your strainer can fit inside. ¬†It will take about 10 minutes to drain. ¬†You can help it along by maneuvering the strainer. After 10 minutes you are going to give your curds a good squeeze.

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Then form your paneer into a round, ¬†flat, hunk of burning love….er, cheese. You will need two plates, and something to weigh it down. ¬†You will want to leave it pressing for a couple of hours. ¬†Then you will be ready to refrigerate the cheese. ¬†Enjoy within a week!

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Here is my finished product.  We had no problem eating this all up within a couple of days!  I cannot wait to make some more and cook some Indian food with it.

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So, ¬†as I went to put away my cheese, ¬†I realized I had a ton of whey left, ¬†abd that I really couldn’t stand to just toss it. ¬†That defeated the purpose of trying to use the milk! So I turned to my handy dandy Internet, ¬†and found out I could basically follow the same process to make ricotta using the whey!

Granted, ¬†with the little bit of whey I had, ¬†it only made a small dish of ricotta, ¬†but it was truly some of the best ricotta I’ve had! ¬†The whey needs to get a heated a little less, ¬†just to about 180 degrees. ¬†And for ricotta, ¬†you are finished after you strain and squeeze!

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Let me know how your cheese making adventures go!

 

 

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