Cheese Curds (for Poutine) – Part 1

I never really gave making cheese at home much thought until I couldn’t find what I was looking for.  What I was looking for was young cheese curds.  Searching online, there is nowhere in California where I can get such things except at A&W fast food restaurant, but those are the deep fried varieties. No way. (They are delicious, but I digress).  I can also have them shipped to me from Wisconsin but that seems to be a bit of an overkill and almost a waste of money.

This kind of cheese is very important in a Canadian dish called poutine.  Now there are some restaurants in my area that serves “poutine” but it’s all wrong.  WRONG I tell you! It shouldn’t even be called poutine.  I can’t even begin to write about what exactly is wrong with it..Blasphemy!

Doing some research, it is actually not that hard to do, just 3 things you need: whole milk, an acid (lemon juice or vinegar), and salt!  That’s it!

½ gallon of whole milk
¼ cup lemon juice or white vinegar
1 tsp salt

Pictured is some additional hardware.  Cheesecloth is needed to allow moisture to drip away from the curds.  A wooden spoon is needed because it’s non-reactive.

Heat the milk under medium heat (6 on my electric stove).  Make sure to stir with the spoon every so often so the milk doesn’t burn.  Careful not to boil.  After you see some bubbles form around the edges, remove from heat.

Pour in the vinegar.

Soon you’ll see the milk break up into curds and whey.  Didn’t little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey?  Well, I though that seemed little nasty until I found out that curds and whey is old school for “cottage cheese.”

The clumps of solids are the curds.  Continue cooling.

Prepare a cheesecloth in a strainer in a large bowl.

Pour out the curds and whey.  All the curds should be left in the cheesecloth while the whey is in the larger bowl.  It may not look like it yet, but the whey part can become buttermilk.  You may throw away the whey, or use it in recipes that calls for buttermilk, or any sour milk.

Add salt and mix it in with the curds.

Wrap up the curds in the cheesecloth.

Here, I put a plate on top of the curds with some weight.  I also put the strainer on another bowl to capture any additional liquid.  Refrigerate overnight.

I removed it from the refrigerator after 16 hours, it should be solidified.

Crumble it and you got yourself some young, less than 24 hour, cheese curds!  Yeah, I know, it’s not the prettiest of pictures.

Original recipe:

– Max

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