6 Tips To Identify Synthetic Paneer At Home
Image Credit: Paneer | Image Credit:Freepik.com

Paneer is a versatile ingredient in Indian cuisine that is known for adding richness and texture to a variety of dishes. For most vegetarians, it is considered the most nutritionally dense food as it is loaded with protein, vitamins, and more. For them, paneer helps maintain their daily nutritional requirement.   

It is not always a feasible option to make paneer at home. Thus, people opt for paneer which is fresh and pure. But what if the store-bought paneer turned out to be synthetic and adulterated? Most recently, authorities have seized 1300 kgs of fake or synthetic paneer disposed of along the Mumbai-Delhi Expressway for public safety. Moreover, in May 2022, Mumbai seized 2000 kgs of fake paneer from two factories.   

What Are Synthetic Or Fake Paneer?  

Fake paneer is made by mixing milk powder and water which is curdled with lime juice and acetic acid. To this palm oil is added to make it glossy and creamy. The presence of additives and substitutes compromises the taste and quality of the culinary creations. The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken measures to detect adulterated milk and milk products.  

You can also check the authenticity of paneer, whether it is fake, synthetic, or adulterated by simple hacks at home. Here are some tips you can follow:  

  • Texture Check  

The original paneer has a firm yet crumbled texture that is slightly grainy in consistency. When this paneer is pressed between your fingers, it should hold its shape and break easily apart. Fake paneer, however, has a rubbery or extremely smooth texture that does not match its natural texture. If you feel that the paneer is unnaturally firm or lacks the characteristic graininess, it is a sign that the paneer is synthetic.  

  • Colour Examination  

Observe the colour of the paneer minutely. The original paneer has a pale ivory or off-white hue, while the fake paneer may appear to be unnaturally white or has a uniform colour throughout. It is advisable to avoid paneer that looks overly bright or lacks variation in colour, as it may have been treated with additives or bleaching agents to enhance its appearance. You can also perform a test. Boil some paneer, let it cool down, and add some soybean powder to it. If the colour of the paneer turns slightly red, it means that the paneer contains detergent or urea.  

  • Smell Test  

Your sense of smell can readily detect the authenticity of paneer. Natural panner has a mild, slightly milky aroma with a hint of sweetness. If you find the paneer has a strong and unpleasant smell, it could be the presence of additives. Trust your nose and opt for a paneer that smells fresh and clean.  

  • Taste Evaluation  

Mainly paneer that is natural and original should taste mild and creamy with a subtle tanginess coming from the curdling process. Synthetic or artificial paneer tastes very sour. Besides, if the paneer turns out to be chewy, this also means that the paneer is fake. When buying paneer, pay attention to its taste and avoid varieties that taste overly processed or unnatural.  

  • Ingredient Analysis  

It is always advisable to check the ingredient list on the packaging if you’re purchasing paneer from a store. Original paneer is just made of milk and an acidic agent such as lemon juice or vinegar. However, fake paneer contains acetic acid and palm oil along with other additives, stabilisers, or preservatives to enhance its shelf life or texture. Always choose paneer that has minimal ingredients and omit products with synthetic additives.  

  • Source Verification  

Whenever you get a chance, choose paneer from trusted sources such as local dairy farms or reputable brands that are known to stay committed to quality and authenticity. Nothing can beat the freshness and purity of homemade paneer. If you’re purchasing from the store look for certifications or labels to ensure its quality standard.