There are few things that define Wisconsin better than fresh, squeaky cheese curds. And while I’m a firm believer that everyone should just visit or move to Wisconsin to enjoy curds while they’re fresh, the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research in Madison knows that’s not possible. That’s why CDR staff are studying cheese curds in order to find a way to extend the squeak.
In a paper published today, authors Dr. Mark Johnson and Pat Polowsky explain why fresh curds squeak: when eating a fresh curd, our teeth compress the curd’s protein network, making it resist and then rebound as our teeth pass through it. The rebound is what generates vibrations and causes the squeak.
Alas, fresh curds only squeak a day or two, as time breaks down the cheese’s calcium phosphate, and curds lose their ability to resist and rebound. But that’s where Mark and Pat come in: through trial and error, they’ve discovered new ways to prolong the squeak of fresh curd (hint: it involves your freezer). To read the results of their study, visit the Dairy Pipeline, pages 4-5. Then try and replicate at home – warning – this may require the consumption of a large amount of cheese curds. Darn.