Cottage cheese vs. Paneer – Which is the healthier cheese?

Derived from milk, cheese comes in several different varieties and flavors that dominantly feature in many desserts. Both cottage cheese and paneer are healthy types of cheese, each with unique attributes as well as preparation processes. Let us take a look at cottage cheese vs. paneer, where we will analyze these two popular types of cheese and their health benefits.

Personally, cheese is one of the best inventions in food history. I cannot have certain foods, like burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and various Mexican dishes, without adding cheese to them, for that extra delightful taste. Whether as an appetizer or a snack, it can also be added to a variety of soups, pastries, and sauces.

Statistics show that the consumption of cheese has tripled from 1970 to 2009 in the United States. There is a wide range of cheeses available across the globe, ranging from bland to mellow in flavor, as well as high to low-fat in composition. More so, some varieties of cheese come from the milk of cows, while others come from that of goats, sheep, and other animals. Some of my favorite types of cheese are cottage cheese and paneer. In this article, we shall find out which of these two types of cheese is the healthier option.

Here are some differences and similarities between cottage cheese and paneer.

What are the differences between cottage cheese and paneer?

Cottage cheese
Paneer
Preparation
Mainly comes from cow’s milk and made from the process of acidification of crude milk fats
Consists of different types, with some prepared by beating or pressing
Texture and consistency
Smooth texture and mild flavor
Crumbly, soft and moist texture with a mildly acidic flavor
Nutrition
Excellent source of proteins, calcium, B vitamins, selenium, and phosphorus
Consists of high-quality proteins, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamins and has a low concentration of fats and calories
Calories (calories per 100 grams)
163
80

Cottage cheese vs. Paneer – How do they compare to one another?

Mode of preparation

One of the significant differences between cottage cheese and paneer is their mode of preparation. Cottage cheese comes from cow’s, goat’s or buffaloes milk, and involves the process of acidification, whereby the milk’s bacteria causes the process to occur.

Similarly, you may opt to make cottage cheese by adding an acid, like lactic acid or vinegar, to pasteurized milk, which causes the milk to separate its whey from its solids. After the formation of the curd, it is cut into pieces to allow additional whey to separate from the curds. The curd is further cooked and gently pressed to drain more whey, and then it is rinsed and salted to make cottage cheese. More so, cottage cheese goes through emulsification, allowing it to stay fresh for long periods. Generally, it can last for about two to six months of proper storage in a freezer.

Alternatively, you prepare paneer by heating milk to over 200 degrees Fahrenheit and adding an acid, like vinegar, yogurt, citric acid, or lemon juice, to thicken it. The milk is then curdled with a small amount of whey and is strained and beaten using a cheesecloth or a muslin cloth while draining out excess water. The resulting product is then dipped in chilled water for approximately two to three hours to give it its appearance and texture.

Depending on your use of paneer, you may make it tougher for use in curries by wrapping it in a cloth and putting a heavyweight, like a stone slab, on it for about two to three hours. Once it solidifies and becomes compact, proceed to cut it into cubes. When you opt to press it for a shorter duration, like about twenty minutes, the resulting product is a fluffier and softer cheese. You can also beat or knead the cheese by hand to provide a dough-like consistency as required in Arabic or Oriya cuisine. Paneer does not undergo emulsification, meaning you have to consume it within two to three days from the day of manufacture. You may opt to change the water of the paneer to extend its lifespan.

Texture and consistency

The texture and consistency of cheese determine the taste and usability of the cheese in making various recipes. Often, the feel of cheese depends on the amount of moisture and whey drained during the preparation process. As a result, the end product may be either soft or crumbly.

Cottage cheese belongs to the fresh cheese category, which are also known as ‘unripened’ cheeses. It is a soft cheese that is easily spreadable with a very mild flavor and a creamy texture. Due to its light and fresh nature, cottage cheese is usually eaten with salads that contain fresh vegetables and fruits. It is also famous for use in casseroles, dips, desserts, and pancakes. Its distinct curds provide an interesting texture for pastry dough, but you may also opt to blend it to a smoother texture to fit your recipe.

Similar to firm tofu, the most popular type of paneer is quite compact and easy to chop and add to your various recipes. It is uniformly compact and comes with an attractive white appearance that sometimes has a somewhat green tinge when made from buffalo milk and a light yellow one when made from cow’s milk. Generally, it has a slightly sweet taste and a mildly acidic flavor as well as a cohesive, compact, and soft texture.

Paneer is widely used in making various Indian cuisines, and some Southeast Asian and some Middle Eastern cuisines. This type of cheese is mainly lacto-vegetarian, making it a significant source of protein for Hindu vegetarians. However, fresh paneer is quite versatile and convenient for use in a wide range of recipes. You can also enjoy it by adding a bit of seasoning to it, as well as eating it with fresh vegetables and fruits.

Nutrition

Cottage cheese is extremely rich in proteins and riboflavin. One hundred grams of cottage cheese provides 11gm of proteins to the human body. Its level of fat depends on the type of milk it is churned from. For instance, if made from full cream milk, it has a high content of fat. Generally, cottage cheese derived from cow’s milk has the most abundant amount of proteins, meaning even when ingested raw, it still delivers its nutritional value.

More so, this type of cheese is also an excellent source of essential minerals, like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. As a result, cottage cheese ascertains healthy teeth and bones as well as smooth functioning nerves and healthy heart muscles. It is a great way to maintain balanced sugar levels due to its high protein component. It is also rich in folate, which is a B complex vitamin that aids with fetal development in expectant mothers. Folate also plays a role in the production of red blood cells in the body.

Paneer has a similar nutritional profile as that of cottage cheese. However, it has a lesser concentration of proteins and calcium. It also has a minimal concentration of cholesterol and saturated fats, making it ideal for people suffering from heart disorders and those on diet programs. This cheese has a minimum amount of lactose, making it an excellent option for those with lactose intolerance.

It consists of high-quality protein that has all essential amino acids necessary for proper growth and development of the human body. The cheese is gluten-free food and has an adequate amount of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamins. As such, it aids in building stronger and denser bones as well as preventing osteoporosis.

Calories

The type of milk used to make cheese determines its nutritional profile, including its calorie content. As such, the amount of sodium added and the level of milk fat used dictates the calorie levels of cottage cheese. Basically, one cup of low-fat cottage cheese comes with 163 calories and 2.3 grams of fat. Its carb content is approximately 3%, and its protein content accounts for 70% of its calories. As such, cottage cheese helps in weight loss due to its low calorie and high protein content. The cheese stimulates a feeling of fullness once ingested, leading to weight loss and reduced calorie intake.

Alternatively, paneer is generally considered an excellent source of proteins for a vegetarian diet. It contains all nine essential amino acids, which are crucial for tissue growth and repair, enhanced body immunity, and maintaining blood volume. Often recommended for people with diabetes, paneer is a healthy food choice due to its low carb content. One serving of paneer offers 265 calories and 20% fats.

Cottage cheese vs. paneer – A comparison review

Cottage cheese Overview and Key features

Image result for cottage cheese

Cottage cheese is a white, soft, and creamy cheese with low calorie and high protein content. It is a fresh cheese that also has essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, crucial for optimal health and body growth. Available in whipped, creamed, reduced-sodium, sodium-free, and lactose-free varieties, cottage cheese comes from the curds of pasteurized cow milk. It has a mild flavor and soft texture that allows its easy incorporation into a wide range of recipes and meals.

What we like

  • Inexpensive and easy to find
  • A convenient and healthy diet that is portable and easy to pack
  • High protein and low-calorie content
  • Helps in weight loss and muscle gain

What we do not like

  • Not recommended for people who are lactose intolerant or have a dairy allergy

Paneer overview and Key features

Image result for paneer

Derived from the Persian word ‘Panir,’ paneer is a non-fermented, mildly flavored, and non-melting farmer’s cheese made from curdling milk using a food-derived acid, like vinegar, lemon, citric acid, or sour curd. The resulting curd is then sieved using a cheesecloth or muslin cloth, separating it from the whey, and then pressed to create slabs, which are chopped or sliced. Paneer forms an integral part of Indian cuisine. It is an excellent source of proteins and contains a lower amount of saturated fats and cholesterol when compared to regular cheese, making it ideal for heart health.

What we like

  • Versatile ingredient for use in different Indian recipes and meals
  • An excellent protein source in vegetarian diets
  • Great for heart health due to its significantly low amount of cholesterol and saturated fats
  • Aids in regulating blood pressure

What we do not like

  • It is most famous in India and in making Indian dishes

Verdict

Both cottage cheese and paneer are healthy cheeses with tons of nutritional value. They are both rich in proteins but contain varying nutritional profiles as well as how they are made. However, if you are looking to lose weight and gain muscle, it is best to add cottage cheese to your diet. On the other hand, if you need to watch out for your cholesterol levels and heart health, paneer is the ideal cheese for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best substitute for paneer?

If you eat paneer for its vegetarian qualities, it may be challenging to find a worthy substitute. The best option is to make your own cheese at home, which is not difficult, provided you have the right equipment and ingredients. If you prefer buying your cheese, you may opt for cottage cheese, tofu, or ricotta. Keep in mind that ricotta and cottage cheese are vegetarian, while tofu is vegan.

Which milk is best for making paneer?

Since making paneer involves a simple process, many people prefer making it at home. As such, it is crucial to choose the best milk to make paneer that has the best taste and texture. Basically, the best milk used to make paneer is fresh and full-fat milk, either from a buffalo, cow, or goat. The best paneer comes from raw and non-homogenized milk.

Apart from cottage cheese and paneer, which are other healthy cheeses?

There are a few healthy cheeses available in the market that are rich in protein, calcium, and other beneficial nutrients. Such cheeses include blue cheese, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, cheddar cheese, Swiss, and feta.