foods and cuisines

Cheese curds | A culinary adventure that’ll take your taste buds on a journey to the Midwest

Cheese curds are moist pieces of curdled milk, eaten either alone or as a snack, or used in prepared dishes. They are most often consumed throughout the northern United States and Canada.[1] Notably, cheese curds are popular in Quebec, as part of the dish poutine (made of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy), and in Wisconsin and Minnesota where they can be served breaded and deep fried. Curds are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese” .

Uses of Cheese curds

Fresh

Fresh cheese curds are often eaten as a snack, finger food, or an appetizer. They may be served alone, dressed with an additional flavor, or with another food, such as a small smoked sausage or piece of cured pork, with the elements skewered together on a toothpick. Examples of flavorings applied to fresh curds include jalapeño chili peppers, garlic, various herbs, or spice blends such as Cajun seasoning, with garlic and dill on cheddar curds being a popular combination.
Fried cheese curds
Deep-fried cheese curds

Deep-fried cheese curds are often found at carnivals and fairs, and often local non-chain fast-food restaurants and at regular restaurants and bars, as well as a few chain restaurants of local origin, such as Culver’s. Deep-fried cheese curds are covered with a batter similar to one used for onion rings or breading, and placed in a deep fryer. They are sometimes served with a side of ketchup, marinara sauce, or ranch dressing. They are strongly associated with the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

In many areas where fried cheese curds are common, the term “cheese curds” refers to the fried variety; non-fried curds are distinguished by calling them “raw” or “plain” cheese curds.

Ingredients of Cheese curds

  • 2 Gallons of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
  • 1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride
  • 1 packet C201 Thermophilic Culture
  • 1/2 tsp Single Strength Liquid Rennet
  • Cheese Salt

Cheese curds Equipment

  • Stainless Steel Pot
  • Good Quality Thermometer
  • Curd Knife
  • Slotted Spoon or Ladle
  • Cheese Cloth
  • 8 lb Weight (1 Gallon Jug of Water)

Cheese Curds, tasty little bits of fresh cheese perfect for a quick snack

Cheese curds are the fresh curds of cheese, often cheddar. Their flavor is mild with about the same firmness as cheese, but has a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, which some would say is their defining characteristic. The American variety are usually yellow or orange in color, like most American cheddar cheese. Other varieties, such as the Qubcois and the New York varieties, are roughly the same color as white cheddar cheese.

After twelve hours, even under refrigeration, they have lost much of their “fresh” characteristics, particularly the “squeak”. Room temperature, rather than refrigeration, may preserve the flavor and the “squeak”.

You can freeze cheese curds for up to 4 months, be aware you will loose the squeak and freshness when eaten after freezing.

Instructions

Heat Milk

Start out by bringing 2 Gallons of milk up to a temperature of 96¡F. Once the milk is at 96F, set a timer for 90 minutes (so you can measure the critical process from ripening through scald; this is the critical part and needs to run by the clock) and proceed with the recipe .

Optional If you want more color in the curds add 1/4-1/2 tsp of annato cheese coloring at this point.

Add Calcium Chloride & Culture

Next 1/2 tsp of Calcium Chloride is measured out and added to the milk along with a pack of (C201 Thermophilic Culture). The milk is then kept at 96¡F to culture (ripen) the milk for 30 minutes.

Coagulate with Rennet

Next measure out 1/2 tsp of single strength Liquid Rennet and add this to 1/4 cup of cool water, add and stir the milk gently for about 30 seconds.

In about 6-10 minutes the milk will begin to gel and in 18-25 minutes a firm set should take place.

This can be tested by inserting a knife and lifting with the broad surface to split the curd as seen above. In a few seconds the cut will fill with clear whey, if it is cloudy wait a few more minutes.

Cut the Curds

Next cut the curd surface into 3/4inch cubes. Wait 3 minutes then begin to stir. Keeping the temperature at 96¡F and as you stir the curds will become smaller.

Cook the Curds

You can now begin heating the curds slowly to 116¡F over 30 minutes. They will continue to shrink as more whey is released. About now your timer should be going off.

Continue to cook the curds for 30-60 minutes depending on how dry you like them.

Drain the Curds

Once the curds are cooked, transfer them to a cloth lined colander to drain.The cloth is then gathered by its corners and hung for 15-20 minutes. Then the cloth is twisted tight to press the curds together.

Pressing

A small plate, placed ontop of the curds, provides an excellent flat surface for pressing. Press with a weight of 1 Gallon of water (app. 8 lbs) and let set 1-3 hours. In about 1-3 hours, youÕll have a nice consolidated mass of curds.

Salting & Finishing

This curd mass can now be broken into bite size pieces and tossed with a bit of salt. It is now ready for eating. I store the curds in a zip lock bag in the fridge.

NOTE: If you have a pH meter, the end of step 5 should be pH6.4 and step 7 pH5.3.

What is cheese curds made of?

Cheese curds are made with pasteurized milk, starter culture, and rennet—a compound of enzymes that causes milk solids to separate from liquid whey in the cheesemaking process. Cheese curds are typically made from cheddar cheese, but can also be made from other cheeses such as Colby and Monterey Jack.

Why do people eat cheese curds?

Good quality cheese curds contain a decent amount of phosphorus which aids in digestion and excretion with is also be very beneficial to those who struggle with digestive problems. The magnesium and other minerals also play crucial role in the digestive system of our body.