Fresh cheese curds are essentially the transitional phase between milk and cheese. They have a mild, milky flavour and a slightly springy, squeaky texture. Cheese curd is most commonly associated with the Quebec dish Poutine, where the curds are served layered on top of french fries, melting under hot gravy, but is also commonly known to be crumbed and deep-fried. YUM!
MAKES APPROXIMATELY 400G
- 2L full cream unhomogenised milk.
- 10 drops (or 0.6ml) Calcium Chloride.
- 3-4 grains of Thermophilic Starter Culture.
- ⅛ Tablet Rennet or 1ml Liquid Rennet (diluted in 30ml cool, non-chlorinated water).
- Salt to taste.
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and stir in the calcium chloride.
- Warm the milk to 36 °C (whilst constantly stirring to prevent scalding).
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the Thermophilic Starter Culture. Allow the culture to rehydrate in the milk for 5 minutes - before stirring it through for 30 seconds.
- Cover the saucepan and let it sit undisturbed in a warm spot (e.g. in an oven on ‘warm’ setting, or kitchen sink with warm water) for 30 minutes to ripen.
- Measure out 30ml of cool, non-chlorinated water and stir the rennet into the water until it has completely dissolved.
- Stir the diluted rennet solution into the milk. Count to 30, then stop stirring immediately.
- Again, cover the saucepan and let it sit undisturbed in a warm spot (e.g. in an oven on ‘warm’ setting, or kitchen sink with warm water) for a further 30 minutes or until a clean break (clean knife incision) is present.
- Once a knife can be inserted cleanly into the set curd (clean break), cut the curd into 2cm cubes. If the curd is still soft (no clean break), allow it to set for a further 10 minutes.
- Allow the cut curds to rest for 2 minutes before stirring.
- Very gently stir the curds for 5 minutes.
- Put the saucepan back on the stove on a very, very low heat and gently raise the temperature of the curds until they reach 46°C. Raise the temperature very slowly over a 30 minute period while gently stirring for one minute every five minutes.
- Once you reach 46°C remove the saucepan from the heat and continue to stir the curds for one minute every five minutes, over a 30 minute period, to increase the firmness of the curds.
- Using the slotted spoon, gently scoop the curds into the Cheese Cloth-lined colander to drain.
- Cover the curds completely with the Cheese Cloth and place a bowl or saucepan of water on top to press.
- Press the curd for at least 2 hours at room temperature until you have created a smooth block of curd.
- Remove the block of curd from the colander and place it onto a chopping board. Cut the curd into bit-sized pieces ready for eating.
- Transfer the curd pieces into a mixing bowl and toss with salt (to taste).
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes and pour off any excess whey that has collected in the bottom of the bowl.
- Repeat the salting step again, and again pour off any additional whey that has collected.
- Salt again to taste if necessary before serving/using.
- Store the finished cheese curds in a zip-lock bag or air-tight container.
- Use the expiry date of the milk as a guide of the cheese curds shelf-life.