Paneer (contributed by Sunil Radhakrishnan)
PANEER has been made in India for generations, mainly in the home. Milk is coagulated by lime juice, citric acid solution, sour whey, or lactic cultures. Citric acid solution generally gives a cleaner flavour to the Paneer than sour whey which may give off flavours and odours. Lime juice as a coagulant imparts a good flavour to the Paneer. Paneer made from 6% fat buffalo milk (in India) is supposed to be of the best body, flavour and texture. Paneer can also be made from cow's milk. Paneer pH is typically 5.7-6.0 and its composition when made from 6% fat milk is 54/7% moisture and 26% fat.
- Take cow's milk in a pre-sterilised stainless steel vessel and heat it to82C and hold for 5 min. After holding, cool slightly to 70C.
- Prepare coagulant of 2% citric acid solution (generally, 2 - 2.5g citric acid is required to coagulate one kg of milk). Heat the coagulant to 70C so the temperature of the milk and the coagulant is the same. The quantity of coagulant added should be sufficient to give a clear whey separation wherein the colour of the whey tends to be a greenish white tinge. When adding the coagulant to the milk (at 70C), there should be very slow stirring so as not to break up the curd mass.
- After the greenish white tinge of the whey is seen (pH: 5.7 - 6.0), a final slow stir is given and the curd allowed to settle for about 5 - 10 minutes. Then the whey is drained out through a muslin cloth and the coagulated curd collected within the cloth. During this period, the whey temperature should not fall below 63C.
- Fill cloth lined hoops and press for 15- 20 min. Pressing can be done by a manual press.
- Remove pressed Paneer from the hoop, cut into required sizes and immerse in chilled water (4- 6C) or 5% brine solution (4- 6%) for 2 - 3 hours to make it firm. After chilling treatment, the Paneer is surface-dried to remove extra free water and then vacuum-packaged in HDPE (high density polyethylene) bags.
- Store at 5 - 8C (refrigeration temperature).
Since moisture is high, Paneer is prepared and consumed immediately due to shelf-life problems. It can be cut conveniently into cubes, fried in oil and added in vegetable salads or garnished in curry preparations. Some people apply corn flour paste and barbecue it.