The Secret Behind Squeaky Cheese
sharing a post from our sister site “Our Earth, Our Products, Our Passion“.
Cheese curds, often called “squeaky cheese,” are a popular snack, not only for the taste, but also for the small mouse like squeak sounds when you take a bite. So what makes squeaky cheese squeak? To find out we asked two local cheese experts, Dave Larsen with Gossner Foods in Logan, UT and Pat Ford with Beehive Cheese Co. in Ogden, UT. They gladly shared the secret.
The squeak in squeaky cheese is produced by it’s cheddaring process and freshness. These tasty little curds are not a byproduct, but rather the first product of cheese making. The traditional cheddaring process starts with letting the milk ripen, which allows bacteria to convert lactose, the natural sugar found in milk, into lactic acid. This lowers the pH and causes the milk to curdle. The addition of rennet, an enzyme used in cheese making, also aids in this curdling process. As the milk curdles, it sets. After setting, the mixture is cooked and the liquid whey is drained. You are now left with curds which are cut into strips and turned over and over to remove the moisture. This process is called “cheddaring the cheese.” Lastly salt is added to keep the pH from dropping further and improve the flavor. The result: yummy cheese curds. When the curds are less than 36 hours old the protein in the cheese is not yet broken down by the bacteria in the added cultures. This gives the cheese a more rubbery texture and causes that fun squeak.
Curd can be eaten as is or pressed into a mold and allowed to age. As the curds age they loose their squeak and turn into the blocks of cheese typically purchased at the store.
Other fun facts:
- The orange color (see photo of Gossner cheese curd above) is due to a vegetable based food dye, they would otherwise be white.
- Cheese curds taste so yummy in part because of the extra salt on the outside.
- Because they don’t have to age, cheese curds allow quick revenue for cheese makers to purchase new milk, while their other cheeses age.
Tips from Dave and Pat:
- Cheese curds are great fried, melted over fries, or are great fresh for snacking, or picnics.
- To bring some of the squeakiness back, pop a couple curds in a microwave for just a few seconds.
We hope Dairy Month has been good to you. Take it out with a SQUEAK!