Last February, my boyfriend, Dan, and I began our journey into cheese curd making. Why? He spent a short time in Canada and Pittsburgh, PA simply does not have fresh curds for poutine. It was easy to do a little search for the ingredients that offered a recipe. A quick search for “How to make cheese curds” on Google will draw you to the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. It ranks second on the Google search list.
Within minutes of finding the site, the ingredients were being shipped to his house. The first round of curd making did not get us the squeaky bites the Canadians rave about. We learned that we seriously misread the instructions, so I wanted to share the rewritten recipe that helped us perfect the curds!
(Also, this video is slightly different, but it is really helpful to watch the process.)
The first step does NOT take 90 minutes. This was a crucial mistake in our first round of curd making. We simply read, “Once the milk is at 96F, set a timer for 90 minutes … and proceed with the recipe.” That did not mean to wait 90 minutes.
Pay close attention to the temperature. We used two different timers to check the top of the liquid compared to the bottom closer to the stove. We also found it helpful to temper the heating process by using a double boiler.
Halve the recipe. The recipe I made below is with one gallon of milk opposed to two. If you have more than two people, go ahead with two gallons. The single gallon lasted several days of curds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Don’t drain the curds too much. Some people like their curds more on the dry side, but we found that they melt better when they are less dry.
Do serve them with fries and gravy. Your friends and family will love you.
What You’ll Need
- 1 Gallon of Milk (Not UltraPasteurized)
- 1/4 tsp Calcium Chloride
- 1 packet C201 Thermophilic Culture
- 1/4 tsp Single Strength Liquid Rennet
- Cheese Salt
- Thermometer (preferably digital)
- Large stainless steel boiling pot
- A larger boiling pot/pan
- Curd Knife
- Slotted Spoon or Ladle
- Cheese Cloth
- 1 Gallon Jug of Water
- Set a separate timer for 90 minutes. This is how long the entire ripening process should take. Proceed with the recipe.
- Bring 1 Gallon of milk to a temperature of 96 F.
- Add 1/4 tsp of calcium chloride and a packet of the C201 Thermophilic culture to the milk. Let this sit for 30 minutes for the culture to ripen.
- In a separate bowl, add 1/4 tsp of single strength Liquid Rennet to 1/8 cup of cool water. Add this to the milk and stir gently for about 30 seconds.
- Let the mix rest for about 25 minutes. So you know what to look for, the milk will begin to gel after 6-10 minutes. After a total of 18-25 minutes, a firm set should take place. You can test this by inserting a knife and lifting with the broad surface to split the curd. In a few seconds the cut will fill with clear whey, but it it appears cloudy, give it a few more minutes to rest.
- Cut the curds. Once the whey is clear, cut the curd surface into 3/4 inch cubes.
- Do not touch the curds for three minutes.
- After the three minutes is up, stir. As you could’ve predicted, stirring the curds will make them become smaller. This is normal.
- Now you’ll need to heat things up. Over 30 minutes, slowly increase the temperature to 116 F. The curds will continue to shrink as more whey is released.
- 90 MINUTES – timer should be going off. That means your curds are fully ripe
- If you want your curds to be more dry, continue at this heat for another 30-60 minutes.
- Drain the curds. Transfer the curds to a cloth lined colander to drain. Hang the cloth by its corners for 15-30 minutes.
- Now bring the curds together into a ball by tightly twisting the corners of the cloth.
- Next, you’ll want to press the curds to drain the excess moisture. Place a small plate on top of the curds so that it creates a flat surface. Add a weight of a gallon of water for 1-3 hours so that you a nice consolidated mass of curds.
- Finally, break the mass into bite size pieces and toss with salt.