How to Make Cheese From Scratch (Ricotta and Paneer)
There’s something about making food from scratch that just hits that wholesome spot. It encourages us to use fresh, local ingredients; we explore new flavours and techniques; and it’s the perfect excuse to just slow it all down and savour the joys of cooking.
Delicious Homemade Cheese Recipe
Food made from scratch using fresh, often home-grown ingredients underpins everything we make here at Alikats. But we also understand that it can be difficult to find time to experiment when life gets in the way. To get you started, we’ve put together a series of our favourite from-scratch recipes for you to try, and hopefully establish as firm staples in your entertaining repertoire.
First, we will be exploring dairy products. Cheese, butter and yoghurt are pretty unremarkable features of most of our weekly shops, so it’s easy to forget that these foods have been produced for thousands of years. When we take a look at the methods involved, it’s no wonder they have stood the test of time – they’re actually really simple. And blessed with technology and kitchen gadgets, we live in an era when making our own dairy products couldn’t be easier. Made from scratch, they also taste much, much better!
Try making your own Cheese
To start with, let’s dive into the world of cheese making. Homemade cheese is a bit of a ‘choose your own adventure’ kind of process. All cheeses require an initial process called acidification, which separates the curds from the whey. Many rely on bacterial cultures such as rennet for this, and long ageing periods to reach their delicious, full potential – something which most of us don’t have the time or the kit to commit to. However, there are some soft cheeses such as ricotta and paneer which use simple lemon juice or vinegar. They therefore require a surprisingly small amount of time and effort, but pack a real punch at a dinner party.
The fundamental rule for making delicious cheese is to use the freshest, creamiest milk. At Alikats, we use milk from La Ferme du Caly, but be mindful that this isn’t pasteurized so it isn’t suitable for babies or people who are pregnant until you heat it. After acidification, it’s a simple matter of warming, washing and straining and you’re there – delicious homemade cheese! Amend the final steps as described to determine if you’d like to end up with ricotta or paneer.
Use fresh ricotta in pasta or summer fruit desserts, and deep fry paneer to add a satisfying edge to your favourite curry.
Homemade Ricotta/Paneer Recipe
– 1.5L fresh, full fat milk
– 2-3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
– Large saucepan
– Large bowl
– Cheesecloth or muslin
– A few heavy objects like tins
Line the colander with the cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.
Warm the milk in a saucepan until it comes to the boil.
Once it’s come to the boil, remove from the heat and add in the vinegar; stirring continuously until the milk solids have completely separated from the whey.
NOTE: the amount of vinegar required to curdle the milk will depend on the milk you use. So add a tablespoon at a time. If it doesn’t curdle completely, add another tablespoon of vinegar and put it back on the heat. Do not overcook it though as it can make the cheese hard.
Pour the cheese mix into the colander and rinse with a little cold water.
Whether you make ricotta or paneer depends on how long you leave it to drain at this stage. For soft ricotta 3-5 minutes is enough. For firmer ricotta, 10-15 minutes.
For paneer, wrap the cheese up in a tight ball in the muslin and leave to drain for half an hour. Then place in a container and press for 3-4 hours. Store in the fridge until needed.
Other from scratch recipes from AliKats
Try your hand at butter, yogurt and silky, rich ice cream. They are easier to make than you think.
· Rich and creamy butter recipe
· The only ice cream recipe you’ll ever need
· Smooth and sumptuous yogurt recipe
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