Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Farmhouse Cooking....Let's Make Panir

One of the many things we do here on the farm is make fresh farmhouse cheese. Some cheeses are more difficult while others are rather basic. Most cheese recipes will require rennet, a starter culture or citric acid, strainers, molds and waxes.
Today, we are making a farmhouse cheese that requires very basic ingredients and methods. Panir is a soft cheese with a hint of lemony flavor. Delicate and moist, this cheese lends well to various flavor additives and uses. Now, let's get started.

gather ingredients

  The basic recipe:

          two lemons for every one quart of milk
          thermometer and heavy bottom pot
          fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth) and salt
 *as a note, we use fresh goat milk, however, full fat cow's milk also works (yes, I tried it)

   To begin, pour your milk into a heavy bottom stock pot. Juice the lemons into the milk (remove any seeds that may fall in). Bring your milk/lemon juice mixture to 185 degrees over a medium high heat. I like a digital thermometer; I feel it is more accurate. As the milk heats, you will start to notice small curds begin to form. The warmer the milk, the more curds develop.
   Once you reach 185 degrees, cover the pot and allow the curds and whey to set for fifteen minutes- this will help develop and separate the curds. During this setting period, I line a strainer with cheese cloth. Now, I use my whey for either cooking or to supplement animal feed..so my strainer is set in a bowl to collect the whey.

curds in cheesecloth

   After the fifteen minute set, pour the curds and whey through your cheese cloth. Allow the curds to set in the cloth/strainer until the whey has drained sufficiently. We like a rather dry cheese, so my curd sits at least an hour.

panir with dried tomato and basil

   When the cheese is dry enough for you, salt to your taste and add any herbs or flavorings you may desire. We have used honey and strawberries for a sweet cracker spread..yummy. Another variation we have enjoyed is fine chopped sun dried tomatoes and basil (pictured here).
   Chill and enjoy!

tomato basil panir served on cucumber slices
   This cheese is so light and tasty you will want to keep it on hand for after school snacks or mid-day munchies. Wonderful paired with fresh veggies, fruit (plain or sweetened panir), or over whole grain crackers. Any way you try it, you are sure to like it. :)


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