Why Do Cheese Curds Squeak?

Why Do Cheese Curds Squeak?

As any Wisconsin Cheese lover will tell you, cheese curds are part of our DNA here. Whether they’re deep-fried, dipped in sauce, or perfectly plain, we simply curdn’t live without them. But what exactly are cheese curds, and why do they squeak? Gather ‘round, Curd Nerds, because we’re doing a deep dive into the world of curds.

What Are Cheese Curds?

Before we can explain that adorable squeak, we need to give you a quick primer on the role of cheese curds in cheesemaking. You might be surprised to learn that almost all cheeses start life as cheese curds. That’s because the first step of the cheesemaking process is to separate farm-fresh milk into curds and whey, done by heating vats of milk with a whey starter and rennet.

The bacterium in the starter acidifies the milk and forms curds, which are then separated from the whey and pressed into blocks. Although the specific details of this process vary by cheese, the fundamentals stay consistent.

Here in Wisconsin, the process for making the bite-size curds we all know and love closely follows that of cheddar. Cheddar uses a unique process called “cheddaring,” which involves stacking blocks of curds on top of each other to squeeze out any excess whey or air trapped in the layers below.

The science behind the squeak

Why do cheese curds squeak?

To understand why cheese curds squeak, we have to take a closer look at the building blocks of cheese: proteins. On a microscopic level, cheese curds are made up of proteins that are bound together with calcium. When you bite into a cheese curd, this protein and calcium structure rubs against the enamel on your teeth, making a squeaking sound.

If your cheese curds don’t squeak, don’t panic! Cheese curds only stay squeaky for a few days at peak freshness. After a few days, the calcium-protein bonds that cause the squeakiness begin to break, thus ending the squeak-fest. This doesn’t mean that your cheese curds have gone bad, though. The squeak factor of cheese curds does not have any bearing on the taste.

How do you make cheese curds squeak again?

If you’re missing out on those adorable squeaks from your cheese curds, we have some good news: you can actually make them squeaky again! You can revive the squeakiness in your cheese curds by putting them in the microwave for 3-5 seconds. This re-bonds the calcium and protein structures, amping up the squeak factor. (Sometimes we call this highly scientific process “re-squeak-ification.”) Don’t microwave them for longer, though, unless you’re looking to melt your precious curds.

How long do cheese curds stay squeaky?

Cheese curds will generally stay squeaky for 3-5 days after they are made. Keep your cheese curds in the refrigerator and away from any moisture sources to keep them squeaky for as long as possible.

How should you store cheese curds?

For the rare occasion when you don’t eat all your cheese curds the day you get them, you can store them in an airtight container in your refrigerator. This will keep your curds fresh for around a week, although we recommend enjoying them when they’re as fresh as possible. If you are looking for longer-term storage options, try freezing your cheese curds. You can keep unopened bags and containers of cheese curds in your freezer for up to four months. Just let them thaw in the fridge for a day or two before enjoying. For more cheese storage tips, read our full guide that breaks down everything you need to know.

What is the difference between cheese and cheese curds?

In a nutshell, cheese curds are just young cheddar. Cheese curds are created early in the cheesemaking process where cheesemakers combine milk, rennet, and a starter to separate solid curds from the liquid whey. Rather than pressing these cheese curds into large blocks for processing and aging, cheesemakers simply end the process here—giving us the adorable, bite-size cheese curds we know and love.

Our favorite Wisconsin Cheese Curd recipes

 Air-Fryer Cheese Curds

Deep-Fried Cheese Curds

Cheese Curds and Biscuits with Blueberry Preserves

Wisconsin Bowl

Squeak on, Friends!

We know what you’re thinking: it’s time to buy some cheese curds and have a cheese tasting. Have cheese and cheese gift baskets delivered right to your door with our continuously updated list of cheesemakers and retailers that allow you to order cheese online. Award-winning Wisconsin Cheese is just a click away.

Craving something else? Choose from our selection of over 400 recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese. Don’t forget to share your creative cheesy creations with us on Facebook and Instagram.


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