Want to make cheddar cheese, but don’t have a cheese press or a cheese cave?
Maybe the thought of pressing cheese or aging cheese just sounds too complicated and you’re not ready for it.
Well, I’ve got an idea for you!
Make fresh cheddar cheese curds.
If I’m pressed for time — or just not feeling like going through the extra steps of making a pressed wheel of cheese or aging it — this is what I make. We get all the flavor and stretchy melty goodness of cheddar, plus the ease of skipping some steps altogether. What’s not to like?
When my sister and family were here at Christmas, they loved my fresh cheddar cheese curds. I put a bowl of them on the counter and everyone just munched on them like they were appetizers (what a good idea — I’m taking mental notes).
The process is simple. Make cheddar cheese (demonstrated on video in the Cultured Dairy and Cheese eCourse). Instead of putting the curds in the press, put them in a bowl to stash in the fridge. You should also salt them a bit less.
In the fridge, they’ll sort of press together by their own weight, but it is nowhere near like a wheel of cheese because you can peel them apart. They’ll keep for about 2 weeks. Over time, more whey will be released from the curds. You can drain this off every few days to prevent the curds from getting soggy. During this time, eat them!
Another thing: the curds squeak. I’ve heard this called “Squeaky Cheese” before! 😉
What to do with cheddar curds?
- Dice the curd strips for toppings on rice bowls, tacos, burritos, or other main dishes, etc.
- Dice the curd strips and use in cold grain salads or other salads
- Put strips on top of your almost-fried eggs, cover and let melt
- Use in grilled cheese sandwiches
- Use in cold sandwiches
- Strips or large dices for appetizers — serve with crackers and pickles
Do you have any cultured dairy shortcuts? Have you made or eaten fresh cheddar curds? Please share!
Cheddar is one of the most delicious and easy cheeses we make in the Cultured Dairy and Cheese eCourse. If you’ve been intimidated by the thought of making cheese, cut that out right now. I’d love to help you master it. 😉
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I LOVE cheese curds! I don’t know why they don’t sell them in stores here in CA. The first time I heard of them I thought the person was crazy. We had them for the first time when visiting friends in ID. They took us to a local dairy and we ate our fair share of squeeky cheese.
Anthony is the cheese maker around here. We’ve always pressed our cheese. I don’t know why we never considered leaving them as curds. We love them that way. Thanks for the reminder, Wardee!
Marci Blubaugh via Facebook says
YUM!!! We love them too. My friend calls them squeaky cheese.
We love cheese curds. I had a friend here from Washington State. They call them squeaky cheese. She tells me that you can buy them as snacks out where she is.
Rebeccah Dunnavant via Facebook says
I <3 this idea! Question.. are you using raw milk? I haven't ventured into making any of the hard cheese yet, but have heard that raw milk hard cheeses have to be aged. What is your knowledge on this?
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
Rebeccah — Yes, I am using raw milk. Raw milk cheese does not have to be aged… unless you want to sell it. 😉
Rebeccah Dunnavant via Facebook says
Ok.. good to know! I thought it had to be aged for health reasons. Thanks!!
Up here we call them squeakers. 😀 And they do sell them in stores. We like them a lot. My family takes them in their lunch boxes. Thanks for the other ideas of how to use them.
Lori S says
Wardee, I was told that you can eat raw cheese fresh or you have to age it at least 60 days because of the bacteria. I will have to re-look up the info. We either eat ours fresh or wax it and let it age for over the 60 days.
Marci — The aging for 60 days is a government regulation for sales of cheese. You can eat cheese at any point after making it — according to your wishes and preferences. Kept in cool storage, the cheese bacteria are stable from the get-go.
That is good to know!! Thanks!
This is great! I have everything to make cheese, but haven’t tried it yet. You’ve inspired me to try it!
John-Emily McNiel via Facebook says
I love making cheese & have just started getting into it. I have to find some ideas for making flavored cheese curds tho — any thoughts??
I’m from Wisconsin and cheese curds are very popular. I love going Sunday morning after church and getting fresh curds that are still warm and squeaky. In Wisconsin, we also deep fry them. Roll them in some bread crumbs and deep fry until the cheese inside is all goey.
Oh, my! Fried cheese curds! 🙂 That sounds delish!
GNOWFGLINS via Facebook says
John-Emily — I add dried herbs to some of my wheels. Like parsley/chives. It turns out pretty and tasty!
I am just wondering why you use vegetable rennet in making your cheddar cheese?
Donna — Rennet is necessary to coagulate the curds quickly.
I made these and they turned out great! Thanks so much for the instructions. You made it look so easy! I bought the rennet and cultures long ago but was always afraid to make cheese until I read this post!
I do have one question. I made these almost a week ago and kept them in the fridge. We have only eaten a quarter of them. Is it too late to press the rest of them? If not, do they need to be warmed up before pressing?
Angie — I totally missed your question. I’m sorry!
It is too late to press at that point. I *think*. You could try warming them up and doing it, but I think maybe then what would happen is just melting.
Just thought I would drop a note….I use cheese curds in my bread. I bake all our bread and do so at least once every week. I am 70 years of age, and have baked since I was 10 years old….recently I have had access to Wisconsin cheese curds, so I tried them in my bread…it turned out wonderful….I just toss some curds in the processor and “chip” pulse them…don’t make powder….then I knead them into the bread and continue as usual…..great for panini sandwiches..I usually make six loaves at a time, so I use about three fourths of a cup of chipped curds…..have fun…
Wardee Harmon says
Mary — What a neat idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I love this! I’m going to have to pin this and make some cheese curds soon. Great idea!
Laura Chisholm says
Take these curds and toss in some roasted garlic, and dillweed… simply amazing! I make them all summer long and sell them at the farmers markets in Omaha… we love love love fresh cheese curds!
Where do you find non-pasturized milk?? I want to make cultured butter…and now these wonderful cheese curds…but…without a supply of fresh, unadulterated milk and cream…how can this be done? Any suggestions? I am in Oregon….
Kathryn Nash says
Dolores, check the milk finder on realmilk.com.
There are lots of farms here in Oregon that do herd-share programs. I know Deck Family Farm and Helios Farms have dropsites throughout the Willamette Valley.
There is also a three-cow rule in Oregon, where you can purchase raw milk on the farm (without having to sign up for a herd-share) so long as the farmer has five or fewer cows, with three or fewer lactating at any time. Sometimes you can find folks with family cows on Facebook Marketplace.
Barbara Melrose says
I appreciate your recipe . I clicked on the link for the mesophilic culture Danisco MA19 and is does not show up as an available culture. Do you think they have replaced it with another? Thanks much, Barb
My favourite way to eat cheese curd in a dish is Poutine! That’s French fries hot and tasty topped with cheddar cheese curd and smothered in a beef gravy! Sooo good! (A traditional Quebec Canadian treat!)
I’ve had them marinated in olive oil and rosemary.
Will remember this shortcut if I get to try cheese making.
Alexa Hamilton says
In Canada we use curds in Poutine. If you’ve never heard of it you’re in for a delicious treat. French fried potatoes (hot of course), cheese curds, then pour beef or chicken gravy overtop. I use canned gravy. This delight began in Quebec and is unbelievably addictive!