April 19, 2007
Cottage cheese (paneer)

Pressed cheese ready for curry

Cottage cheese is a simple thing to make - they don’t call it cottage for nothing. It takes a bit of your attention, to ensure the milk doesn’t scorch or boil over, but other than that, it’s almost as easy as boiling water.

You need only two ingredients: whole milk and an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Your yield will be about 15% of the weight of the milk. So a liter of milk makes about 150 grams of cheese and a gallon of milk makes a little more than a pound. The cheese will have a faint taste of the acid that you choose - lightly lemon-y if you use lemon juice. Of course you can season it with herbs or spices as you like. Do that after the cheese is drained.

Cottage cheese can be pressed to make a firm paneer for curries, or left in curds like Miss Muffett always liked.

Cottage Cheese
makes about 150 grams

1 liter whole milk
an acid: 1/2 lemon or lime, juiced, or 1-3 tsp vinegar

Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching. When it comes to a boil, stir in the acid and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The solids will clump together (curds) and the remaining liquid will become a thin watery white (whey). Turn off heat and allow to sit a few minutes to cool.

Strain through cheesecloth (or thin cotton cloth). When the liquid is mostly drained out, lift the cloth by the corners and twist to squeeze out remaining liquid. This is cottage cheese.

To make firm paneer, press the cloth-covered cheese under a 5kg/10lb weight for up to two hours. I usually fold the cloth around the cheese, press it into a pancake shape, sandwich it between two cutting boards, then balance the bowl of whey on top, adding water to increase the weight. After an hour, the cheese is firm enough to cut into cubes.

Posted by kuri at April 19, 2007 06:48 PM


Is this the same as making ricotta?

Posted by: T on April 19, 2007 06:59 PM

Yes, it’s all the same cheese just different names and textures.

Posted by: Kristen on April 19, 2007 07:31 PM

thanks for posting this. I’ve been meaning to make paneer for some time now, and this inspired me again!

Posted by: holly on April 19, 2007 10:57 PM

Ah, so that’s part of what “saag paneer” means. I had no idea it was so easy to make cheese…I thought you needed rennet, and thermometers, etc. I may try this.

Along with your “they don’t call it cottage for nothing” comment goes my light-bulb moment for “cheesecloth”. With all the things I’ve done with cheesecloth, making cheese is not one of them. heh

Posted by: Rebecca on April 20, 2007 10:27 AM

Whoah weird - I read this on Thursday and then would you believe it - that night they showed how to make it on TV. Even more interestingly what happens if you stuff up while making it too…

Posted by: MJ on April 21, 2007 06:00 PM
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