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Cheese Curds – The Squeaky Cheese

Cheese CurdsHave you ever found a recipe that mentions cheese curds, but you don’t have any idea what cheese curds are?

We’ll help you to find out what cheese curds are and how to make your home-made cheese curds, and also offer you a bonus recipe.

What are Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are also known as “squeaky cheese“.

Cheese curds are a part of the cheese-making process. Another name for them is “squeaky cheese” because fresh cheese curds squeak with your teeth when you bite them.

The flavor of cheese curds is mild, and they have a springy or slightly rubbery texture.

Cheese curds can be enjoyed fried or put on top of poutine.

Poutine is a dish that originated in Quebec, Canada, that is made up of french fries with brown gravy and topped with cheese curds.

Recipe: Homemade Cheese Curds

Cheese curds sound fantastic, so here’s a recipe on how to make cheese curds at home from New England CheeseMaking Supply Co.

Here is the step by step process on making the curds:

  1. Heat 2 Gallons (7.5 liters) of Milk to 96 ºF (35 ºC), and once it has reached that temperature, set a timer for 90 minutes.
  2. Then add ½ tsp (2.5 ml) of calcium chloride and one packet of thermophilic cheese culture C-201 at this point. (Optional: If you want more color in your curds, then add ¼ -½ tsp (1 – 2 ml) of annatto cheese coloring). Maintaining the temperature, culture the milk for 30 minutes.
  3. Then add ½ tsp (2.5 ml) of rennet to ¼ cup (60 ml) of cool Add to the milk mix and stir it in gently for 30 seconds. The milk will begin to gel in 6 – 10 minutes and fully set ready to cut in about 18 – 25 min
  4. When firm, cut the curds into 3/4 inch (20 mm) cubes, wait about 3 minutes then begin to stir, with the temperature still at 96 ºF. As you stir, the curds will become smaller.
  5. Then begin to raise the temperature of the curds to 116 ºF (47 ºC) slowly over the next 30 minutes. Starting the temperature increase at about 2 ºF every 5 minutes, and then increase the heating rate as the curds dry out).
  6. Continue to stir the curds for the next 30 – 60 min at 116 ºF (47 ºC) to increase firmness.
  7. Once the curds are cooked, transfer them into a cloth lined colander, gather the cloth and bundle by tightening the cloth. Then hang the cloth for 15 – 20 minutes.
  8. Return the bag to the colander, and cover the bag with a small plate Press with a weight of about 8 lbs (4 kg) and let set 1-3 hours. Hint: you can use a suitable bottle of water to provide the weight.
  9. Now break the curds into small bite size pieces and toss with a bit of salt (to your taste) they are ready to eat.

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

Grilled Cheese Curd Panzanella Recipe

Since we now know what cheese curds are and how to make them, we can use our homemade curds to create a quick, delicious snack.

Nick Kindelsperger shares his recipe for Grilled Cheese Curd Panzanella on the Serious Eats website. This recipe serves four and takes about 30 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, stemmed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ pound hearty bread (ciabatta works well), sliced into 1-inch thick slices
  • 4 ounces cheese curd, cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, red wine vinegar, garlic, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir well and set aside.
  2. Set a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the slices of bread with a tablespoon of the oil. Cook, occasionally flipping, until grill marks appear and the bread is crisp. Set bread aside on a cutting board to cool for a minute.
  3. Meanwhile, reduce the heat on the grill pan to medium-low. Wait a minute or two for it to cool down, and then brush with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the curds and cook until they are browned and crisp on the bottom, but not completely melted on top. When done, use a fork and carefully remove the curds from the grill pan and set aside on a plate.
  4. Chop the bread slices into 1-inch cubes and toss well with the tomatoes. Season the mixture with more salt if needed. Divide the Panzanella between four large bowls and garnish with the grilled cheese curds.

Now you can eat and enjoy your cheese curds whether fresh, fried or used in a snack. If you know of more delicious recipes using cheese curds, please can share them with us.

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