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Melting paneer?

Hi food fans - I am having trouble with my paneer. Despite that numerous internet resources say that only rennet-curdled cheeses will melt properly, I have made paneer twice in the last year using acid, and both times the resulting paneer has turned melty on me!

The first time, I used skim milk spiked with some cream, and curdled with cider vinegar. It was a little hard to bring it together and "knead" before pressing, but once pressed stayed together pretty well. However, when I attempted to brown it after cutting it into cubes, it melted into lumpy masses. I figured that either using the skim + cream, and/or using vinegar instead of lemon juice, and/or not kneading enough must be the culprit for it not holding together, and vowed to try again. As a note, I cooked half of it after ti had refrigerated for a day, and the other half after freezing for a while. Both times were equally melty.

Just recently, though, I made a batch using 2% and skim milk plus a little half-and-half, and curdled with straight-up citric acid solution. It seemed to be working better, because after draining and initial squeezing, I was able to get the cheese mass to knit together a bit and knead. Some recipes call to knead until the mix is smooth, but that never really happened for me because the mix was still just a bit too crumbly. I pressed it, and ended up with a pretty firm block, which I froze. I thawed it back out this past Saturday and cooked it Sunday - this time it was somehow even more melty! It was as though I'd tried to fry fresh mozzarella. And yet, it was prefectly firm when I had cut it into blocks.

I am perplexed! Could this be because I am not using whole milk, and instead concocting mixes of lesser milkfat products with higher milkfat products? Something tells me that perhaps there were gums in the high-fat products, which could have had some effects on the cheese's structure. Overall, though, I'm just confused - I don't know enough about cheese science to decipher how I am basically getting an effect that is attributed to rennet-curdled cheeses in an acid-curdled cheese.

Does anyone have any idea why this has happened? Any suggested fixes? Thanks!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
my first guess would be that you're not getting the pan and oil hot enough when you're cooking it, as suggested in my favorite recipe here.
Dec. 9th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you are losing too much liquid, which is probably because of the milk mixture and using milk with additives.

Here's the method I use (no kneading required):
Dec. 10th, 2013 12:17 am (UTC)
I've made paneer with 2% milk, whole milk and whole milk spiked with whipping cream and used lemon juice and white vinegar and never had a problem with the resulting paneer melting. I've had problems cutting frozen and thawed paneer into cubes for frying without getting a lot of crumbling. I don't knead my paneer and I usually fry it between medium to medium-high heat

Here's my latest paneer making post, while if you click on the tags you will see some of the earlier experiments.

Edited at 2013-12-10 12:57 am (UTC)
Dec. 11th, 2013 06:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestions.

One thing that has occurred to me is that I have used cloths laundered in enzyme-containing detergents for straining and pressing. If enzymes are the key to making melty cheeses, I wonder if I am inadvertently introducing them via those cloths (which I usually rinse prior to using, but that wouldn't detroy enzymes).

I think I might have to get super-scientific, and make a batch with whole milk, curdled with lemon juice, then split it into a batch using cheesecloth or boiled cloths, and one using the plain laundered cloths I've been using. FOR SCIENCE!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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