Hard cheese from paneer?
March 13, 2010 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Have any of you tried to make hard cheese from paneer? If so, how?

I've been looking at methods of making paneer to add to a curry. I had the idea of making hard cheese from it. I am wondering whether or not this is possible with paneer. This would be nice, as I would rather not use rennet to make cheese.
posted by jpcooper to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If by Paneer you mean cheese, you're trying to make cheese from cheese? It is already cheese. Paneer just means 'cheese' in dari, urdu or hindi, or do you mean specifically the white kind of cheese used in Indian dishes such as a palak paneer?
posted by thewalrus at 2:14 PM on March 13, 2010

Hard cheese almost always requires rennet, I'm pretty sure. I think you need to add the rennet to the cooking process to ensure that it'll work right. Therefore, I don't think you could make hard cheese from paneer that you've made by boiling and adding vinegar / lemon juice. This is just my opinion, though, I am not a cheesemaker. I'd recommend using a rennet (you can get a vegetarian rennet if the animal product is the reason you're averse to it).
posted by ajarbaday at 2:17 PM on March 13, 2010

Paneer and hard (presumably western-style) cheese have completely different compositions. Paneer is mostly milk solids and water. Hard cheese has a very high fat content. This isn't going to work.
posted by embrangled at 2:22 PM on March 13, 2010

There's no real path from fresh firm cheese to any other kind of cheese. On food and cooking has a very helpful diagram on p. 60 that makes this clear; as others are saying you need rennet or some equivalent thing to make the cheese coagulate (there are vegetarian alternatives but from what I understand they are pretty finicky to work with, and I'm guessing not really viable for the home cook). A version of this diagram (not the original so it seems to be missing some detail) is reproduced here. I think one reason (among many) why paneer is so popular in India is exactly because it is straightforwardly vegetarian and there aren't many other cheeses like that.

Just to give you an idea of what is involved in some other cheese, making mozzarella at home is pretty doable and here is a recipe.
posted by advil at 3:32 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just looking around there are some non-animal-based rennets here, probably other places to buy it. (I'm assuming that vegetarianism is the motive in not wanting to use rennet, apologies if not.)
posted by advil at 3:48 PM on March 13, 2010

If you're looking for a vegetarian cheddar, Cabot cheese from Vermont (a common supermarket cheese in the northeast) uses only vegetarian rennets in all their cheeses.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:56 PM on March 13, 2010

Thanks, all, for the information. It's disappointing to know that I can't do this, but at least I won't be wasting any milk.
posted by jpcooper at 12:40 AM on March 14, 2010

Paneer and ricotta are, at one point in their lives, the same thing. You could make ricotta salata. I tried it once and it was good, though I waaaaay oversalted.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:41 PM on March 15, 2010

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