Cheese Curds: Another Wisconsin Cheese

During our trip to Wisconsin, we made sure to take full advantage of the widespread availability of quality cheeses, picking up a Smoked Baby Swiss and Limburger cheese, along with something we were advised was a “real Wisconsin specialty”: cheese curds.

If Limburger cheese is “stinky cheese,” cheese curds are “squeaky cheese”.

What Are Cheese Curds And Why Do They Squeak?

Basically, cheese curds are young Cheddar cheese before it’s formed into blocks and aged. The little nugget shapes are the natural, random shape that cheese makes when it’s first made. As you’d expect, they taste very similar to Cheddar cheese, though a very mild cheddar since they haven’t been aged. Texture-wise, they are also similar to cheddar cheese, though with a bit more spring and rubberiness.

So why do they squeak? They have air trapped inside of the porous cheese, so when you bite into them, they emit a squeak. The trapped air probably contributes to the springiness and rubberiness, as well. Or maybe they’re screaming in pain. Who knows?

How Do You Use Cheese Curds?

There are three typical ways to eat cheese curds: straight from the package, fried, or in the Canadian specialty Poutine (we’ll fill y’all in on poutine in a few weeks as we travel through Canada to Alaska). We’ve had them fresh and in poutine (well, Scott has at least). They’re probably quite amazing fried too, but then again, what isn’t?

One thing that seems unanimous is not to refrigerate your curds. Unlike aged Cheddars, they don’t need it and refrigeration kills off their squeak and some of their other desirable qualities. Also, cheese curds should be eaten as fresh as possible, as they will lose their squeak and become dry and saltier after a few days.