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How to make homemade cheese curds

Updated February 21, 2017

Cheese curds are fresh, un-aged pieces of cheese made from milk. The texture is somewhere between a soft cheese, like a cottage cheese, and a hard cheese like a hard cheddar. The curds are solid but have not yet been pressed into moulds to form a hard cheese. Cheese curds can be eaten on their own and used in various cheese recipes. With the proper pasteurisation, starter and coagulant, you can make cheese curds at home in less than two days.

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  1. Sanitise a saucepan by boiling water in the pan for five minutes. Cover the pan with the pan's lid while you are boiling the water. After five minutes, pour out the water.

  2. Pour 475 ml (two cups or about a pint) of supermarket bought milk into the saucepan. The type of milk that you purchase is completely up to your own tastes. A general milk for making cheese curds is 2% milk, though you could also use a powdered milk mixed with whipping cream or even whole milk.

  3. Bring the milk almost to a boil, then turn off the heat and wait for the milk to come to room temperature.

  4. Add a packet of mesophilic starter to the saucepan and stir. You can purchase mesophilic starter, which comes powdered in small packages like yeast, at any supplier that sells cheese-making products.

  5. Wait three hours and stir the mixture again, then leave the mixture alone at room temperature for 24 hours. The mixture should have a consistency similar to soft yoghurt at that point.

  6. Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the mixture to 2 gallons of milk, which should be in a sanitised, three-gallon saucepan. The milk can be either powdered milk mixed with cream or 2% milk.

  7. Add a rennet tablet, which you can also purchase at a speciality cheese shop, to the 11 litres (3-gallon) saucepan. Bring the milk mixture to 62 degrees Celsius (143 degrees Fahrenheit) and keep it at that temperature for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, allow the milk to cool to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit.)

  8. Add another 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the original mixture that contains the mesophilic starter to the large saucepan. Stir the mixture and leave it at 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) for sixty minutes, you will start to see the mixture harden into a curd.

  9. Insert a knife into the curd and push the blade all the way to the bottom of the pan. Slice the curd from one end of the pan to the other end. Continue to slice the curd every inch. Then slice through the curd every inch in a 45-degree angle. The curds do not have to be even and you can make cubes in any way that you like. If you have a French whisk, push it into the curd, twist it, then pull it out and press it into another section of the curd and repeat.

  10. Heat the curd in the 11 litres (3-gallon) pan to 39 to 40 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) slowly and hold it at that temperature for 1 hour. Stir the curds every ten or fifteen minutes to keep them separated.

  11. Line a colander with cheesecloth, then pour the curds into the colander and let them drain for thirty minutes.

  12. Place the curds into a large bowl lined with a paper towel and mix in between 1 and 2 tablespoons of salt.

  13. Allow the curds to air-dry for one or two days. Replace the paper towel if it gets soaked and stir the curds every six hours. After two days, you can eat the cheese curds. You can store them in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Things You'll Need

  • Milk
  • 7.5 litre (2-gallon) saucepan
  • Mesophilic starter
  • 11 litres (3-gallon) saucepan
  • Rennet tablet
  • Thermometer
  • Knife
  • Colander
  • Cheesecloth
  • Bowl
  • Salt

About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.

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