What is a Cheese Curd?

What is a cheese curd?  Recently I went on a tour of the Tillamook cheese factory in Tillamook, OR.  Part of the tour included an area where you could eat samples of their cheese.  Included in the various samples were fresh cheese curds.  Before this I had never eaten a cheese curd.  What seems to look like a rubbery yellow ball turned out to be a tasty bite of cheese, which squeaked as I chewed.

So what is a cheese curd?  Cheese curds are basically small chunks of cheese solids which have been separated from the natural whey present in milk.  Their flavor is mild with about the same firmness as cheese but has a rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth due to air being trapped inside its porous body. Cheese curds are sometimes referred to as “Squeaky cheese”.

Cheese curds do spoil quickly!  They should be eaten within 10-12 hours for best flavor, texture, and squeak.  After twelve hours, even under refrigeration, cheese curds lose much of their “fresh” characteristics, particularly the “squeak”.  After twenty-four hours, they can lose their freshness entirely. If they are purchased locally and need to be kept for a couple of days, room temperature, rather than refrigeration, may preserve the flavor and “squeak”.

If you’ve never had cheese curds, I would encourage you to try them!  You’ll be glad you did.