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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 Québécois 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.

Cheese Curds are sometimes breaded and deep fried especially in Wisconsin.

Cheese curds are a main ingredient in Poutine, a Quebec dish in which cheese curds are served layered on top of french fries, and melting under steaming hot gravy.

We start out bringing 2 Gallons of milk up to a temperature of 96F and the timer is set for 90 minutes
to measure the critical process from ripening through scald, Since this is the part of the recipe that is most important and must run by the clock.
Next 1/2 tsp of calcium chloride is measured out and added to the milk along with a pack of thermophilic culture (C201). The milk is then kept at 96F to culture (ripen) the milk for 30 minutes.
Next measure out 1/2 tsp of 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 18-25minutes 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.
Next cut the curd surface into 3/4inch cubes. Wait 3 minutes then begin to stir. Keeping the temperature at 96F and as you stir the curds will become smaller. You can now begin heating the curds slowly to 116F 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. When the curds are cooked, transfer them to a cloth lined colander to drain . The cloth is now gatherd by its corners and hung for
15-20 minutes.
Then the cloth is twisted tight to press the curds together.
A small plate provides a flat surface for pressing. A gallon jug of water provides the weight (8lbs). In about 1 to 3 hr you have a nice consolidated mass of curds.
This curd mass can now be broken into bite size pieces , tossed with a bit of salt and
is now ready for eating. I store the curds in a zip lock bag in the fridge.

How to make this cheese :

1. 2 Gallons of Milk are heated to 96F, add 1/2 tsp of calcium chloride at this point.
(Optional; If you want more color in the curds add 1/4-1/2 tsp of annato cheese coloring at this point)
2. Add 1 packet of thermophilic culture C-201 and let this ripen for 30 minutes.
3. Then add 1/2 tsp rennet and stir gently for 30 seconds.
the milk will begin to gel in 6-10 minutes and a full set ready to cut in 18 -25 min
4. When firm cut the curds into 3/4 inch cubes and stir 5 minutes.
5. Then begin to cook the curds to 116F slowly over the next 30 minutes. (starting out at 2F every 5 minutes and then increasing the heating rate as the curds dry out)
6. Continue to stir the curds for the next 30-60 min at 116F to increase firmness.
7. Drain in cloth and bundle by tightening the cloth.
Press with a weight of 1 Gallon of water (app. 8 lbs) and let set 1-3 hours.
8. Now break the curds into small bite size pieces and toss with a bit of salt (to your taste) they are ready to eat. I simply store mine in a plastic bag

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

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