I have tried this recipe using the traditional method which you may find anywhere with variations. So many methods I have experienced are very tedious but really cheese making is very simple and takes the same time as making paneer if followed properly.
I have used vegetable rennet in it which is like the primary ingredient for making cheese and is completely safe for vegetarians. You may find the vegetable rennet on online common stores easily. Many people instead of using vegetable rennet use pure clear vinegar, I have tried that method and I am really not a big fan of it even though the melting of the cheese turns out to be pretty decent.
Makes 350 grams of cheese:
1 gallon of whole milk or raw milk
1- ½ teaspoons citric acid
nearly half of ¼ teaspoon of liquid or powder vegetable rennet
(¼ teaspoon of vegetable rennet helps making cheese with 2 gallons of milk)
½ – 1 tablespoon of cheese salt or any non-iodized salt
non-chlorinated /distilled/ filtered water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or coconut oil
Caution: If you do not have non-iodized salt do not use any other iodized salt, it tends to affect the quality and texture of the cheese.
Process: Pour the milk in a big pot, mix the oil in it. Mix the citric acid with nearly 1 cup of water and pour it in the milk. Stir well and let the milk heat until it reaches normal human body temperature. The standard temperature is between 32-35 degree Celsius. Once that temperature is reached then remove it from the stove top and place it on another surface. Now mix the rennet with ¼ cup of water and pour into the milk and gently stir for a minute. Cover with a lid and let it set for a maximum of 30 – 40 minutes. After 30 – 40 minutes when you gently tilt the milk you will observe a thin custard-like texture. (Usually this process takes only 15 minutes but the longer you keep the better). Cut the mixture into horizontal and vertical lines gently with a big knife making sure the cut reaches the bottom. (The cut appears like a grid) Again put the pot on low to medium heat until it reaches little more than regular body temperature (Around 42-45 degree Celsius). Stir gently the mixture so that any remaining curd can be separated from the whey. Cover with a lid and keep aside again for 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove it from the stove. With the help of a big spoon start putting the curdled mixture in a strainer and below that place a bowl. (You need the whey so make sure you use a spoon and try to collect the curd and put in the strainer).
Press the curds gently so that whatever whey is there can collect in the bottom bowl. Keep the curd aside and add salt in the whey, heat it again around 90 degrees Celsius. Place the strainer in the whey and keep it inside the whey for 5 minutes. Remove the strainer out and place on top of the bowl.
This curd will be very hot so you may use some gloves and start kneading the curd while it’s on the strainer.
This kneading will help the curd become stretchy. After a few minutes once the curd gets cold and difficult to stretch, then again dip it in the whey by placing it on a strainer. This process is to make the curd soft again so that it can be stretched. Use both your hands to knead and stretch. Repeat 2-3 times until all whey is squeezed out and you get a stretchy texture of cheese. Put this cheese in a big bowl of iced water and let it be submerged in it for 5 minutes. This process helps the firmness and shape of the final cheese product.
After the cheese is set, coat with the oil evenly, nicely cover with a thin layer of cheesecloth and seal in a ziplock bag. You may also store the cheese in salted whey liquid for nearly 1 week.
Tips: Try to use gently pasteurized or unpasteurized milk to get the regular cheese texture. Overly pasteurized or processed milk will not give the desired result. Use rennet as per the instruction given on the type or kind of bottle you are purchasing. If too much rennet is used it will make your cheese rubbery.
Generally it takes only 15 minutes for rennet to set the curd but I have noticed when I keep it for more time then it gives a good final product.
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