In an effort to ensure adherence to the norms set by Food Safety & Standards Authority of India for paneer manufacture, the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) Southern Region is helping dairy major Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) in implementation of advanced technologies to maintain quality and uniformity of the product.
Out of India’s about 100 million tonne milk production, some 7% is being converted into paneer and related products. Indian paneer market is estimated to be around one lakh metric tonne per annum, Around 80% of which is sold as loose paneer by local milk vendors. It is the largest dairy product sold in terms of volume after liquid milk. However 80 per cent of the market was for institutional sales which was price-sensitive and the remaining 20 per cent was for domestic consumption.
Paneer is a universally-accepted product across Indian sub-continent and is the highest-consumed dairy product in north India. It is a heat-acid coagulated dairy product. Manufacturers need to be meticulous in its preparation, according to Dr K Jayaraj Rao, principal scientist, dairy technology section, NDRI Southern Region.
“Now FSSAI has mandated that paneer should be prepared as a product obtained from cow or buffalo milk or a combination thereof by precipitation with sour milk, lactic acid or citric acid. Milk soilds may also be used in preparation of this product,” stated Dr Rao while addressing the KMF team at a one-day workshop on ‘Standardised Manufacturing Practices for Paneer.’
“Therefore the milk for paneer manufacture should be clean and of good quality. All extraneous matter from milk is removed by clarification process. Buffalo milk is most suited for paneer making because it has high fat content and the casein micelles are firmer and are of larger size. In the case of cow milk paneer, its texture appears to be less porous. Now the paneer available in the market is commonly made from mixed milk. However, stored and homogenised milk should be avoided to prepare paneer,” he added.
“Irrespective of the type, milk should be standardised to a fat and SNF (solids-not-fat) ratio of 1:1.65 so that the final product conforms to requirements. Yield of paneer depends on several factors like total solids in milk, quality of milk, coagulation temperature, pressing etc. The yield is generally 12-14% in case of cow milk and 16-20% in case of buffalo milk. Paneer should always be stored at refrigerated temperatures. This is because of the high water activity of paneer which does not permit to be stored at room temperature for long,” said Dr Rao.
Sharing his expertise on enhancement of paneer’s shelf life, Dr Rao stated that since it was a high moisture product and contained proteins, fat and minerals, which supported prolific growth of microorganisms, there was need to adopt preservation methods like infusion of potassium sorbate during the cooling stage. In addition, it was also critical for any manufacturer of paneer to opt for high barrier packaging material or vacuum packaging.