Monday, May 12, 2014

Panela Cheese

We recently had a request for a panela recipe which we posted in the May issue of our Moosletter.  One of our readers, Mona Anderson from San Jose, California sent us a translation of a YouTube video she found about making panela.  We haven't tested the recipe- we are merely passing it (and the translation) on to you.

Panela is a fresh Mexican cheese, soft and crumbly.  When it is heated, it gets creamy, but it doesn't change it's shape, so it may be fried.  (Here's a great recipe for baked panela:

In Mexico, panela is a very popular cheese with a wide range of uses.  We found a few of them at Mexican Cheese Producers:

Slice and top a hot corn tortilla or crusty bread
Cut thick, grill to a golden brown, and serve with salsa
Slice and melt over a chicken breast sandwich
Chunk and serve cold as a snack with crackers
Slice and fry with salsa fresca as an appetizer
Shred over lettuce and pasta salads
Slice and fry with onions and bell peppers, serve in a warm tortilla for fajitas

Special Notes

Panela is made much the same way as our Queso Fresco recipe online.  It's important to eat it fresh (not aged). 

The recipe in the video below calls for pressing the cheese in a round mold (like our Small Mold), however, many people use a basket mold (like our Traditional Basket Mold).  If you will be using a basket, you can find directions here.

This recipe calls for pasteurized milk.  It will work differently if you choose to to make it with raw milk or goat's or sheep's milk. You will certainly need less rennet (at least 15% less).  

Let us know if you have your own recipe for panela.

We offer our special thanks to Manuel Topete for translating this video for us.

Panela Cheese
(The lowest cheese in calories)
Translated by Manuel Topete
Profeco TV 16.5 Tecnología Doméstica Profeco: Queso Panela

Time to elaborate: 2 hrs
Delivers: 500 gms (1.1 lbs)
Lasts before expiring: 2 weeks


5 lts (5.3 qts) milk whole pasteurized –regular milk
½ tsp calcium chloride 
35 drops of rennet 

1 ½ TBS salt
½ cup water  


Plastic strainer
Kitchen spoon
Knife (sharp) or curd knife
Cheese cloth 20 x 20 cms (8”x 8”and
20” x 20”) - Clean and disinfected or butter muslin
Mold, 500 gms capacity (1.1 lbs), perforated bottom or Small Mold with follower

Plywood round cover same diameter of the mold (to cover it)
Screw press or any press
Metallic pot 5.5 lts capacity (1.5 gal) with cover
Plastic container with hermetic cover (Tupperware)
Measuring cup
Glass bowl 2 lts capacity (2.2 qts)


Pour milk into the pot and warm it up at med-low.

Dissolve calcium chloride in ¼ cup of water.

Dissolve rennet in the other ¼ cup of water.

When milk is warm to the point where you can still stand it on the back of your hand, take it off the burner. 

Dissolve the calcium chloride/water mix in it, stirring.

Dissolve the rennet/water mix in it stirring BRIEFLY and stop the motion of the milk with the spoon.

Cover the pot and let it rest until it curdles (some 30 minutes).

Once curdled, cut it into 1¼" squares and let it set for 10 minutes more.

Place the large cheese cloth over the plastic strainer.

Transfer the curdled milk to the cheese cloth.

Form a sack, pulling the corners of the cloth up and closing it with your hand pressing to extract the whey.

Place the curdled milk (cuajada) in the glass bowl, add the salt and mix it well.

Place the small cheese cloth on the mold and transfer the curdled milk into it. Wrap it and place the plywood cover (follower) over it.

Apply pressure (not too much) with the screw press and let it rest for 60 minutes, changing the position of the press to make it even.

Transfer the cheese to the plastic container (Tupperware -without the cloth).


Keep it in fridge.


The time to cut the curdled milk is when the tip of the knife comes out clean after puncturing it.

Before using the cheese cloths, wash them and disinfect them (sun bath with no dust).


The resulting whey is very rich in proteins.  It can be used to prepare milkshakes, to bake cakes, etc.


Jorge Calderon said...

Profeco TV in Mexico is kind of a Consumers Protection Program and Consumers Guides, it is well known and their recipes are 100% tried and true, I´ve made Panela cheese several times using this exact same recipe and got great fresh and exquisit cheese every time.

Jeri said...

Thanks, Jorge! That's very good to know.