From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
Cheese curds in cuisine, or cooking, are the solid parts of soured milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes, mostly in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States. They are sometimes referred to as "squeaky cheese".
Cheese curds are little known in locations without cheese factories because they should ideally be eaten within hours of manufacture. Their flavor is mild, with about the same firmness as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic, due to air trapped inside the porous material. This "squeak" has been described by the New York Times as sounding like "balloons trying to neck". After 12 hours, even under refrigeration, they lose much of their "fresh" characteristic, particularly the "squeak". Keeping them at room temperature can preserve the squeakiness.
The curds have a mild flavor and are sometimes somewhat salty. The American variety is usually yellow or orange, like most American Cheddar cheese, but doesn't require the artificial coloring. Other varieties, as in Quebec, Vermont, or New York State, may be naturally un-colored.
"Long ago and far away, a nomad living in a vast Middle East desert decided to go on a far journey. So he saddled up his camel and poured a lot of milk in his saddlebag to drink along the way. It was a very hot day, even by Gobi standards, and the milk curdled after several hours of riding. When he opened up the bag, instead of milk, he found white curds with liquid! Yet another "Aha" moment in history.
But why did the milk curdle? His saddlebag had the enzyme called "rennin" in it because the bag was made from the stomach of a young cow. How this happened is a whole 'nother story, but the point is rennin causes coagulation or curdling. Hence the curds.
Another history spin speaks to vast geological change and mass migrations. Nature set the stage for America's Dairyland during the last Ice Age, when glaciers cut through what is now Wisconsin. As they receded, the massive mountains of ice left behind a countryside of rolling hills and lush pastureland. Millions of years later, when European immigrants migrated west, Wisconsin reminded many of their homelands, but without the royalty and oppression to deal with. Perfect!
Soon they were producing an abundance of top-quality milk and cheese. These men and women arrived with the tradition of making favorite cheeses from the old country. And so it was that the fame of their curds and other cheeses quickly spread throughout the land." As Stated at wisconsinfriedcheesecurds.com/Pages/cheese_curd.aspx.
Fresh cheese curds are often eaten as a snack, finger food or an appetizer. They may be served alone, dressed with an additional flavor, or with another food, such as a small smoked sausage or piece of cured pork, with the elements skewered together on a toothpick. Examples of flavorings applied to fresh curds include jalapeño chili peppers, garlic, various herbs, or spice blends such as so-called "Cajun seasoning", with garlic and dill on cheddar curds being a popular combination.
In the Midwestern United States, deep-fried cheese curds are often found at carnivals and fairs, and often local non-chain fast food restaurants and bars, as well as a few chain restaurants of local origin, such as Culver's. Deep-fried cheese curds are covered with a batter, like that used for onion rings, or are breaded and placed in a deep fryer.
In some areas, deep-fried cheese curds are also known as cheeseballs.
Cheese curds are a main ingredient in poutine, a dish consisting of french fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy and sometimes additional ingredients. The dish originated in rural Quebec, Canada, in the late 1950s. Several Québécois communities claim to be the birthplace of poutine, and one oft-cited tale credits Fernand Lachance as inventing the name. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm longer.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cheese curds|