What Are Cheese Curds?
Cheese curds are bits of curdled milk formed in the process of making cheese. They are pieces of cheese in its natural shape that have not been processed into blocks and aged. Cheese curds have the nickname “squeaky cheese,” because fresh cheese curds make a squeaking noise when consumed.
How to Make Cheese Curds
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.
Homemade Cheese Curds Recipe
Total Time4 hr
Cook Time4 hr
- 1 gallon of pasteurized milk
- ¼ teaspoon of liquid rennet
- ½ packet of mesophilic culture
- ¼ teaspoon of calcium chloride, mixed with 2 tablespoons of cool water
- ½ tablespoon of salt
- Pour the milk into a large stockpot set over medium heat. Sprinkle the mesophilic culture on top. Add the calcium chloride mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate.
- When the milk reaches 90°F, cover the pot and let sit for 1 hour.
- Add rennet, gently stirring to evenly distribute. Re-cover pot, and let sit for an additional 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, the separated curds should have floated to the top. Using a paring knife, gently lift the sheet of curds: If the curds break cleanly, it’s ready to be cut and cooked further. If the curds dissolve, cover the pot again and let the milk sit a little longer.
- After the curds break cleanly, gently slice them into blocks. Stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up any particularly large chunks. Return the pot to medium-low heat, and warm the curds to 105°F, stirring slowly, and constantly.
- When the temperature reaches 105°F, remove the pot from heat and continue to stir intermittently for the next 45 minutes. Use low heat to warm the pot, if necessary. During this step, the curds are gradually cooking and setting into a firm texture.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the pot into the colander. Fold edges of cheesecloth over the collected curds.
- The curds must be pressed to remove excess moisture. Fill your empty milk container with water. Place a small plate over the cheesecloth, and balance the milk jug on top. Let sit for 30 minutes, carefully flipping the curd package halfway through.
- Unwrap the curds and break or cut into bite-sized pieces. Return to the colander, and sprinkle with salt, tossing gently to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes, then salt again to taste.
- Curds can be stored in a refrigerator for a few weeks, but they will lose their signature squeak around 24 hours after being made.
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