"Mommy, where do cheese curds come from?"
It's a question every Wisconsin parent faces sooner or later.
Seems like it's always sooner these days. And it has to be
answered briefly and completely if a child is to continue being
a well-rounded Wisconsin youth. Here are some ways to answer:
- Go ask your father.
- Go ask your mother.
- Some very brainy nerds (hence the name curds) at the University
of Wisconsin discovered Cheese Curds quite by accident.
It was a cold and stormy Wisconsin winter night and they
working late in the lab, looking for new and better ways
to make Cheddar Cheese. And enhance their research grants
Maybe get tenure. Anyway, they started snackin' on their
research, realized they had discovered something special
and sent out
for a six-pack to celebrate!
OK, maybe those answers will work for some
kids. But for technical geeklings, here is the process from
milk to squeakalicious Cheese Curds:
- Milk Intake: Quality milk is the starting point for quality
cheese curds. It takes approximately 10 pounds of milk
to make 1 pound of cheese.
- Testing: All cheese plants constantly screen incoming milk
samples for quality and purity.
- Standardization: The milk is weighed, heat treated or pasteurized
for product safety and uniformity.
- Starter Culture: Starter culture is added to help determine
the flavor and texture of the cheese.
- Coagulant: A milk-clotting enzyme called rennet is added
to coagulate the milk, forming a custard-like mass.
- Cutting: Cutting begins the process of separating the liquid
(whey) and the milk solids (curds).
- Stirring & Heating: The curd and the whey are cooked
and stirred until the curd reaches the desired temperature
- Whey Draining: The whey is drained, leaving the tightly
- Curd Transformation: The Curd Is Born!