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What are Cheese Curds?

Cheese curds are small, moist pieces of curdled milk that are enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or in dishes, like poutine. Some call this cheese “squeaky cheese” because of the noise it makes as it is being eaten. Most commonly found in Wisconsin, cheese curds can be eaten with ketchup, ranch dressing, and more.

How to Make Cheese Curds

Fresh pasteurized milk is combined with bacterial culture and rennet, which is used to clot the milk. Once the pasteurized milk and bacterial culture clot, the mixture is cut into cubes and cooked to release the whey curd. The mixture is then pressed to create the final product of a cheese curd.

Cheese Curd Recipe

If you would like to try your hand at making your own cheese curds, we have included a recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts of full cream fresh pasteurized milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon of mesophilic culture
  • 1/2 teaspoon of calcium chloride in 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of liquid rennet in 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of cheese salt
  • A cheesecloth
  • Two large pots
  • A colander
  • Small container with lid

Making Cheese Curds:

Beginning Steps

  1. Heat fresh pasteurized milk to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in large pot.
  2. Add 1/2 tablespoon of salt to milk.
  3. Stir milk to make sure the cream isn’t floating on the top.
  4. Sprinkle mesophilic culture over the milk and stir.
  5. Rehydrate the milk for 5 minutes.
  6. Cover pot with milk and ripen for 45 minutes.
  7. Stir again.
  8. Add in calcium chloride and stir.
  9. Add liquid rennet and stir.
  10. Continuously stir for a couple of minutes, and let cheese sit for 40 minutes.
  11. Once cheese sets, check for a clean break with a knife to make sure cheese is firm.
  12. Cut cheese into 1/2-inch cubes.
  13. After cutting the curd, cover the pot with a lid and allow the cubes to cure for 5 minutes.

Middle Steps

  1. Once cured, stir and slowly increase the heat to 102 degrees Fahrenheit over a 30-minute period.
  2. Continuously stir the curds during these 30 minutes.
  3. The curds will shrink from 1/2 inch to the size of a peanut.
  4. Stir for another 30 minutes, and maintain the temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Take a handful of curds and squeeze into a ball. If curds separate, they are ready to cool.
  6. Let curds rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Place cheesecloth over colander, and place colander in a large pot.
  8. Ladle the whey (water-like mixture) into the colander, along with the cheese curds.
  9. Drain curds for 10 minutes.
  10. Pour out half of the whey that is in the pot and place pot on the stove.
  11. Heat the whey up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Cover with a lid and heat curds for 1 hour, turning curd slab every 15 minutes.
  13. Remove cheese cloth from colander after 45 minutes, turn slab for the final time, and press it into the colander to release any excess moisture.

Final Steps

  1. Turn off heat and transfer cheese to a cutting board.
  2. Cut cheese into 2x1 inch cubes, place in a container, and add remaining salt.
  3. Add a lid and shake cheese until evenly coated.
  4. Pour curds back into colander and place over empty pot to drain.
  5. Cover with cheese cloth to protect from dust.
  6. After 12 hours, cheese curds are ready to be served.

This recipe yields 4 to 5 servings of cheese curds. Curds will last up to 2 weeks if stored in an airtight container.

How to Eat Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are most commonly found in a dish called poutine or are fried, which is a great appetizer. Learn more about poutine and fried cheese curds.

Poutine

Poutine

Poutine originated during the 1950s in rural Quebec, Canada and remains a staple in this area today. Many other places around the world have adopted this recipe as well. To make a delicious side or entree of poutine, all you need are crispy french fries, dark gravy, and cheese curds.

Fried Cheese Curds

Fried cheese curds are tasty nuggets of cheese that are breaded and fried to a crispy golden brown. Fried cheese curds can be found at carnivals and fairs all over the nation. Similar to mozzarella sticks, cheese curds turn soft and gooey when fried. Many people love fried cheese curds and often dip them in ketchup, marinara sauce, or ranch.


Whether you choose to make cheese curds by yourself or to purchase them, customers will love your appetizers and entrees that feature cheese curds.

Posted in: Food Trucks & Concessions | Recipes | Menu Tips | By Angalena Malavenda
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