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Paneer/Panir Cheese - Kylie Cook

Submitted by Kylie Cook
Sunday Bell Farm
North Danville, VT

Paneer is the easiest cheese on earth to make. Literally anyone can do it. And I guarantee all the ingredients are already in your kitchen. Paneer is a fresh/unripened cheese. It is mild, firm, chewy, creamy, and slightly squeaky in nature. Alone it doesn’t have much flavor but when cooked, works as a sponge to soak up the flavor of herbs and spices. Paneer is traditionally found in Indian dishes but can be easily adapted to any style of cuisine. It is a fantastic and flavorful alternative to tofu and other soy based proteins.

Basic Paneer Cheese:
1 gallon whole milk
8 tbsp. lemon juice, white, or cider vinegar. Alternatively 2 tsp. of citric acid dissolved in ¾c hot water can be used.
Optional: 1-2 cups hot water.
Optional: salt to taste.

  1. In a large pot heat the milk to a gentle but rolling boil. Stir often to prevent scorching.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and add in the acid before the foam subsides. Curds should begin to separate immediately. Feel free to add another tablespoon of acid if they don’t. Cook for 10-25 seconds more.
  3. Remove from heat and continue to stir gently until large curds form. The whey should be clear and almost green in color. If the whey is still milky, return to heat and add a bit more acid. Add salt to taste if desired.
  4. Once the curds and whey are clearly separated, remove from heat and let set for 10 minutes. For a very soft cheese, add 1-2 cups of hot water.
  5. Once curds have fallen below the whey, they are ready to drain. Ladle into a colander lined with butter muslin (or a thin clean cloth). Rinse the curds under a stream of cool water for a couple minutes to remove the acid and whey. Gather the corners of the muslin together and gently twist to squeeze out any extra whey.
  6. Shape the cheese bag into a disc 1-2 inches thick. Place the cheese, still wrapped in the muslin, on a cutting board or similar surface. Cover with a plate. Place 5 pounds of weight on top of the cheese to continue pressing and draining the cheese. The 5lb weight could be in the form of a stack of plates, a brick, or a pot of water, the possibilities are endless.
  7. Leave the weighted cheese for 1-2 hours. Feel free to place in the fridge but it is fine to stay on the counter if there is no room.
  8. Use immediately, fresh is best! Refrigerate before cooking if you would like a firmer cheese. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week. Can also be frozen for several months.

How to make your own Yogurt

Making homemade yogurt is very easy, and doesn’t require much equipment. I began making my own yogurt in late spring/early summer of 2020 through a little instruction from a friend and the ability to acquire a gallon of raw milk each week from the same friend’s cow. I haven’t purchased any yogurt since!

Necessary equipment:
1 gallon of whole milk, preferably raw
4 tablespoons of plain, unsweetened, raw, whole milk yogurt (This can be purchased from the Littleton Food Co-op, or find a friend who makes their own and ask for a small amount)
A large pot
A large metal spoon and a large slotted spoon
Small bowl
A medium to large sized cooler
8 clean, quart sized mason jars and lids (at least 4 of these should be wide mouthed for the yogurt)
2 bath towels
A reliable cooking thermometer

A note on using raw milk yogurt as your starter:
When you purchase yogurt starter culture in a package, you are getting a limited amount of active cultures. This means that after a couple of yogurt batches, the cultures will be used up and you will need to purchase another package of starter cultures. If you use raw milk yogurt as your starter, you are getting a diverse amount of active cultures to work with. These cultures will result in many, many batches of yogurt before you will need to purchase more yogurt to boost your starter. I have made at least 20 batches of yogurt from the one jar of raw yogurt that I had initially purchased several months ago!

You can skim the cream off the top of the milk and save it for another use, or just pour it and the milk into the large pot. The cream will make a beautiful, creamy top on the yogurt so I highly recommend using it!

Pour the gallon of milk into the large pot and turn the stove to medium. Check the milk every couple of minutes with the thermometer. When the milk reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, turn off the heat. Let the milk sit until it cools down to between 115 and 118 degrees. Depending on how warm your kitchen is this takes approximately 2 hours.

While the milk is cooling it’s time to build your yogurt incubator! I put the empty mason jars near my wood stove so they get nice and warm. Heat up a gallon of water on the stove until it reaches about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour this water into four of the mason jars (Save the wide mouth ones for the yogurt) and place the lids on them. Place these jars of hot water in the cooler and tuck the bath towels around them.

Now is a good time to measure out the 4 tablespoons of yogurt into a bowl and let it reach room temperature.

When the milk cools to around 115-118 degrees, use the slotted spoon to remove the skin off the top of the milk. Add a few large spoonfuls of the milk to the 4 tablespoons of yogurt and whisk or stir to combine the yogurt and the milk. This will remove any lumps from the yogurt. Add this to the pot of milk and whisk or stir well to combine. Using a funnel to pour the milk and yogurt mixture into the four wide mouth quart jars. Wipe off any spilled milk and secure the lids. Open the cooler and remove the towels. Place the jars of yogurt around the jars of hot water. Tuck the towels around the jars. Try to work quickly so that you don’t lose all of the heat you’ve curated. Close the lid of the cooler. I recommend placing a sign on the cooler like “Please keep this closed- yogurt in progress” to guarantee that the lid won’t be opened prematurely. Let the yogurt sit in the incubator for 8-10 hours. Once you remove it I will often let it sit on the kitchen counter for another couple of hours to finish thickening.

This yogurt is delicious plain, but you could also experiment with adding flavors and sweeteners. Maple Syrup, vanilla, fruit, or jam are all wonderful additions.

Garlic Scape Pesto - Gretchen Boswell

Submitted by Gretchen Boswell
Prof de Français
Lyndon Institute

This is a family go-to all throughout the summer, uses garlic scapes quickly, and is perfect in pasta or grain salads, on pizza, in eggs, or simply with some crackers or sliced veggies from the garden. It is always a crowd pleaser at picnics and potlucks, too.

In the food processor, chop up together, blending until smooth:

  • Approximately 10 garlic scapes (the curly flower and smooth round stalk of the garlic green that feeds into the fibrous leaves) or about 1/2 lb.
  • 1/2 to 1/3 cup grated parmesan, depending on how cheesy you like it
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts (either works well, but walnuts tend to make a smoother pesto)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt to taste
  • *Optional: a spoon of honey or agave to ease the relative sharpness of the garlic

Keep in the fridge for several weeks and/or freeze to enjoy during the winter months.

Bon appétit!