Cheese Curds Recipe (Basic)
- 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
- Stainless Steel Pot
- Good Quality Thermometer
- Curd Knife
- Slotted Spoon or Ladle
- Cheese Cloth
- 8 lb Weight (1 Gallon Jug of Water)
- Q & A
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- queso fresco
- Calcium Chloride
Beginning cheesemaker here, with access only to pasteurized & homogenized cow's milk. (Tough to take after growing up on a beef and dairy ranch.) After confidence-building successes with simple queso blanco, queso fresco and ricotta (oh, and lots of non-confidence-building mozzarella failures from 10-ish years ago), I ventured into this recipe. DH thought the results were too mild, but I couldn't be happier! Also, even if the curds are several days old, a quick sear in a frying pan brings the "squeak" back beautifully.
This was my first foray into cheese making and I am hooked. Experiencing how the milk solidified, then cutting and stirring the curds... its a very enjoyable process. Not to mention eating the final product, it's delicious! I am looking forward to making more cheese as soon as I get my press built.
I Love Cheese
The detailed recipe instructions and pictures are a great learning tool. Followed the instructions and pictures throughout and ended up with a cheese curd colored with annato to give them a slight yellowish hue. The calcium chloride added to my store bought milk definetely seemed to firm up my curd along with a little extra time for coagulation and cooking. They are a bit squeaky and taste great, my wife seemed amazed when I unwrapped the mass of cheese curd prior to breaking up and salting. I will be busy for quite awhile given the number of cheese recipes on your website.
We love cheese curds, but only can get fresh ones when we visit Grandma in Wisconsin. These were very easy to make and squeaked like the Wisconsin ones! Make these!
I've long enjoyed good cheese and wondered how it was made. I have some time this summer (I'm a teacher) and so decided to try to learn. Your website is great and these recipes even better. Everything worked as it should and the results were tasty. They didn't squeak, which I guess is something that people like. Not a big deal to me, however. Thanks