How to make homemade paneer easily and pretty quickly. This Indian cheese is crazy rich and creamy, unlike anything you've ever tasted. Worth every minute!
In a large heavy saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat. Bring the milk to JUST under a boil. The milk will produce a steamy, foamy layer on top and will smell rich and fragrant. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom to make sure it doesn't burn.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. The mixture will likely curdle immediately into solid white curds and yellow liquid whey, but if it doesn't, that's OK. See Note for next steps if your milk does not curdle immediately.
Line a medium colander with cheesecloth and set over a large bowl. Scoop the white solid curds into the colander and let the liquid whey drain into the bowl beneath. Discard the yellow whey or save for other uses, like lactofermentation.
Sprinkle the curds with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss the curds with your hands to incorporate the salt.
Place in the refrigerator and let press for at least 20 minutes, preferably 90 minutes - 2 hours. The longer the press, the firmer the cheese, without losing any richness. After pressing, unwrap the paneer, cut into cubes, and use in a recipe or keep chilled in an airtight container up to 3-4 days.
Most organic milk is ultra-high temperature pasteurized (UHT) which destroys the structure of the milk and will not produce proper curds or bind as necessary to make paneer or most homemade cheeses. Ultra-high temperature pasteurized milk is legally required to be labeled as such, so check your labels and opt for non-UHT milk (Not always labeled as such, but it will not say it is UHT pasteurized). I use a local, low temp pasteurized, high butterfat milk for my homemade cheeses, and it's divine.
If your milk does not curdle immediately after stirring in lemon juice: Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the mixture should be separated into curds and whey--the whey is the yellowy watery liquid. If the mixture has not yet separated, add another tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.