I am often asked if I’ve made squeaky curds. After my initial response of: Squeaky What?, I learned they are some sort of an obsession in Wisconsin. OK. But, what’s the big deal about cheese that squeaks? (I didn’t embarrass myself by asking that out loud to the squeak lovers. At least I don’t think I did.)
Well, I can now officially answer that: “Yes. I have made squeaky curds.”
And, officially, I am now addicted.
It’s not just the squeak that gets you hooked, although that’s a fun party trick. It’s THE TASTE, THE TEXTURE and EVERY DELICIOUS SALTED MORSEL THAT EVEN THINKS OF HITTING YOUR TONGUE!!!
It starts with this plus milk. 1/2 tsp 30% Calcium Chloride in one gallon of milk. I, of course, used raw goat’s milk. You can use any raw or pasteurized animal milk, just not ultrapasteurized. Stir this in and heat to 86 degrees. On my stove, I set my milk in my stainless steel pot on the burner set on 3 or 4. You want to heat it slowly.
Once the milk hits 86 degrees, sprinkle one whole packet like this (which equals 1/4 tsp) of Mesophilic Starter Culture on top of the milk (don’t pay attention to the directions on the label). Let it just sit there for 2 minutes to rehydrate.
After it rehydrates, stir it in with a slotted spoon…But, Here comes a trick. Stir it with an up down motion. Make sure your spoon touches all areas of the milk and that you go all the way from the bottom to the top when you “stir.”
Now, cover it, at let it sit for 45 minutes.
Now, add 1/2 rennet tablet (that has been disolved in 1/4 cup distilled water), to the milk mixture. Stir up and down again. Touch all parts of the milk with your spoon again. Cover, and let sit for 45 minutes again.
After 45 minutes, your milk should have turned into a curd. It will be solid and shiny and may have little watery looking drips on the top of it.
So, you’ll want to check it for a “clean break.” This will tell you if it is ready for the next step. And, it’s kind of fun.
Stick your clean finger down into the curd, then lift up. You want to see a sharp tear like this. If it spreads like cottage cheese over your finger, it’s not ready.
Use a long, sharp knife and cut it all the way to the bottom into 1/2″ squares.
Then, let the curds sit for 5 minutes. They will begin expelling whey. (They are like sponges that, throughout the process of making this cheese, will squeeze out all of their whey!)
Now, put the pot on the lowest setting on your stove. For me, that’s Low.
Start stirring. Slowly. And, keep stirring. And stirring. And stirring. For 30 minutes.
Seriously. It’s better with a glass of wine. (Not in the cheese, but for you to drink.)
Your goal here is to get the temperature up to 100 degrees, but VERY slowly. The curds will be expelling whey this whole time. And, shrinking. And shrinking. And shrinking.
As you stir, many of the curds will break. That’s fine. There will be a lot that don’t and that stay big. That’s not fine. You need to cut them so they’re all 1/2″ square or less.
Like that. More or less.
After 30 minutes, take a scoop of curds out into your hand and gently squeeze them. If they stick together, but then can be pretty easily separated with your fingers, it’s ready.
If not, go get another glass of wine. You’ve got more stirring to do.
Once it’s ready, pour the curds through a strainer, and KEEP THE WHEY!
Put the whey into a pot that’s shallow enough for the curds, inside the strainer, to be mostly submerged.
Leave it there for 10 minutes. Be quiet, it’s cheddaring. You’d need quiet too if you were cheddaring.
After 10 minutes, it should be in a thick mat at the bottom of the strainer. Cut the mat in half. Then, put one half on top of the other half, and put it back in the strainer and the strainer back into the whey for 10 minutes.
After the second 10 minutes, flip the curd. Let it sit, in the whey for 10 minutes. Flip again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Keep flipping every 10 minutes so that all the flips equal one hour.
After one hour, take the now solid slab (there may be a few marbley curds that fall off here and there. They must be eaten.) and put it on a cutting board.
Cut the curd into pieces that end up being 1/2″x 1/2″x 2″. Or so. This is before they were final size.
This is when they are the final size.
Then, put them in a Ziploc bag and add 2 tsp. salt. Close the bag and gently move the curds around inside, coating them as evenly as possible with the salt.
Then, try to keep them away from your family. If you are not able to, there is a risk that they will devour the whole bag of curds before you even sit down to rest. You have been at this for about 4 hours, now.
You deserve a break.
And you deserve to eat as many of those curds as you can fit into your stomach.
But, because it takes so much time, so much work and so much milk for a small amount of curds, you may decide to ration them. One curd per family member, per day.
And, yes, they do squeak.
– The Squeaky Goat Cheese Lady
P.S. Thanks to Leeners.com for help with the recipe.