Make Your Own Cheese (Paneer)

Paneer (aka Panir) is a very mild cheese used in Indian and Ayurvedic cooking. It is available in Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores (usually in a frozen section), and Bellingham's Appel Farms has begun making an organic Paneer that you can find in food co-ops and Whole Foods-style supermarkets. 
Paneer is similar in texture to a cross between mozzarella and feta: firm yet soft. It will not melt and holds its shape. Paneer’s taste blends well with any food you pair it with.
Paneer is also fun and simple to make!

Equipment

  • 4 qt pot
  • cooking thermometer
  • butter muslin

Ingredients

  • ½ gallon whole cow's milk organic and non-homogenized are best
  • 1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (really does matter)

Instructions

  • Pour the milk into the pot and bring close to boiling (~180°).
  • Gently add the lemon juice and stir—but only for a few seconds. Let sit to allow the curds and whey to separate. Separation of the curds and whey is complete when the white curds are floating in the yellowish whey. If the liquid remains milky, you may add in more lemon juice and wait another minute. 
  • —For Soft or Medium Paneer 
    Pour the entire contents of the pot through a fine sieve or butter muslin. Scrape any remaining paneer from the bottom of the pot. Allow to drain till the whey is gone, but not for longer than 1 hour.
  • —For Hard Paneer 
    Continue to simmer the coagulated paneer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and allow to stand for no less than 10 minutes. Line a colander or sieve with butter muslin, allowing the edges to drape over the sides. Very gently ladle the baby curds (without breaking them up) into the colander/sieve. Also scrape off any residue in the pot. Bring the edges of the butter muslin over the top of the cheese and cover with something flat, such as a plate. Add a weight on top (a jar of food?) and allow to drain for several hours or overnight.
  • Serve within 1–2 days and keep in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Notes

Whey is the liquid by-product of naturally soured or cultured milk. It is a food in its own right and is usually an opaque yellow when fresh. Whey can be stored for months in a refrigerator and used for many things. It contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, and small amounts of carbohydrates (if there is lactose remaining after the culturing process). 
Think of Miss Muffet: she “sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey.” Cottage cheese is an example of curds and whey: the clumps are the curds, and the liquid is the whey. The liquid that sometimes separates out of yogurt or sour cream is also whey. Strained cultured buttermilk and kefir also produce whey.
Uses for Whey
—Use whey as a culture starter. 
The whey found in cultured foods like yogurt and kefir contain the active bacteria in these foods. In this way you can use a small amount of whey as a culture starter in vegetables, cultured beverages, and a host of other fermented foods.
—Use whey to soak grains. 
If you are soaking nuts (such as almonds) or whole grains (like oatmeal or rice) to reduce the anti-nutrients, then you might consider adding a bit of whey. The acidity of the whey helps to break down hard-to-digest grains and skins—and introduces beneficial organisms that will help to make the grains and nuts easier to digest.
—Use whey in baked goods. 
Many refer to whey as a “dough conditioner” in baked goods. That means that in baking breads or pastries the whey can create a better textured final product. This is especially helpful in baking with whole grain flours. Simply replace the water or milk product in your baked goods with whey.
—Use whey in smoothies. 
You can replace the liquid in your smoothies with whey for a tangy, fortifying treat.
—Use whey on the skin and hair. 
Some folks claim that whey has excellent toning qualities for the skin and hair. This makes sense in that whey contains cultured acids, vitamins, and minerals. You could try some on a cotton ball and apply to your face as a toning agent.
source: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/ways-to-use-whey