This is really easy to make and only one step separates the ricotta from being paneer…pressing out the excess moisture and compacting the cheese into a more solid mass. This recipe is also in our cookbook Easy Date Oven (available as a free download for signing up for our mailing list).
Fresh warm ricotta is a great homey thing to present unexpected guests with, especially if you have fresh bread on hand, or make biscuits as well.
You could easily start the process while making tea, and then complete it while drinking it with your guests during a 30 second departure from the table. 🙂
While you don’t want to overboil the milk, you do need to bring it to a full froth…do not allow yourself to be distracted at this point….milk is highly volatile when being heated and can boil over before you know what’s happening if you wander off.
Do not skimp on the souring agent (we use lemon juice, but you can also use any kind of vinegar you wish to. Each will affect the flavour differently however, so use something that makes sense for your purpose.
Salt the milk, bring to a boil (it will start to get frothy looking).
After 3-5 minutes, turn it off and add the juice of one lemon.
Remove the pot to a cooling pad, cover and leave until curds form for at least 30 minutes. Leave overnight for a stronger flavour.
Add the juice of the second lemon and boil the milk again for just a moment.
As the milk begins to boil, you will see it start to separate into a watery liquid (whey),
and bits of milk solids (curd). As the whey becomes clearer and the curds begin to congeal, turn off the heat. This will happen fairly quickly, so stand ready and stir the
mixture gently from time to time.
Allow this to cool a bit before proceeding to the next step.
Line a colander or strainer with 4 layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl or saucepan big enough to hold the contents of the cheese mixture.
Use a soup ladle to spoon the curds and whey over the cheesecloth (if you pour, you’ll ruin the cheesecloth and the cheese).
When this is fully drained, you can serve it immediately as ricotta cheese.
When fresh and warm like this, it's lovely with biscuits and jam or crusty bread and tapenade.
Making the cheese into paneer is as simple as pressing out the excess liquid to make it into a firmer, cuttable cheese that will hold its shape in a sauce.
To do this, first wrap the cheesecloth fully around the cheese.
Then, put a small plate or other food-safe flat object over the cheesecloth and weigh it down while the excess liquid drains from the cheese.
PLEASE NOTE; You will need cheesecloth for this recipe. You can buy this at a food store, hardware, or fabric shop (although if from a fabric shop, it will have ‘sizing’ and must be washed first). The whey can be stored for up to ten days and used in power drinks or in any recipe that calls for milk, I use it to make biscuits or bread.