Spring is a crazy time on the farm. The grass is growing, planting is happening, piglets, kids, calves, chicks, ducklings, poults, and goslings are being born. EVERYONE is anxious to get outside, and I could happily spend all day in the garden without thought for meals or housework. People still want/need to eat, however, regardless of my spring fever. And furthermore, the busyness and hard work make everyone want to eat MORE! Personally, I’d prefer to live on sunbeams and fairy dust in the springtime, but my husband (who spends a sunny Saturday mucking out barn stalls and hauling compost) wants something a little heartier. Fortunately, springtime for us is springtime for the cows too, and right now they are producing gorgeous yellow milk, in abundant quantities. It’s the perfect time of year to make a few quick, simple, fresh cheeses that take advantage of this spring milk and, as a bonus, make fabulous meals or snacks. My personal favorite is also the easiest: paneer. It’s an Indian cheese and there are dozens of ways to make it, but in springtime I like to use grapefruit or lemon juice, or kombucha vinegar. Paneer is high in protein, very low in carbs, and can be used in place of (or in addition to) meat in soups, stews, curries, or salads. Or in fabulous grain free pancakes, which is (IMHO) the best way to eat it.

Here’s how I make it: I start with half a gallon of whole milk (make sure it’s not UHT pasteurized,) the juice of half a lemon and half a grapefruit (or half a cup of kombucha vinegar) and half a cup of hot (190+F) water. Mix the juices and water together and set aside. In a large pot, heat the milk to 185F. Don’t let it boil, and take your time…I get better results and a larger yield if I heat milk slowly. Once it has reached 185F, stir and slowly pour in the juice/water mixture. You should see curds begin to set immediately. Turn off the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

(If you don’t immediately see curds forming, keep it on the heat JUST until you do. Do not go anywhere…stay right next to your cheese and keep an eye on it.) After ten minutes, pour off all the whey you can, add a tablespoon of sea salt, and drain your cheese. I like to line our basic cheese mold with a butter muslin and pour my paneer curds into that, but you certainly can just hang your curds in a butter muslin and allow them to drip dry.

Finally, enjoy! This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled…and while the heating might take a while longer, it’s still a very quick cheese and can be made in the morning for lunchtime.

Next time, I’ll share my recipe for paneer pancakes, and will continue to post EASY cheese techniques throughout the season. Happy culturing!