Studying a Wisconsin Icon: the Cheese Curd

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.

Workshop: Goat and Sheep Milk Cheeses of Spain and Portugal

This just in from the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research: a few spots are still open for the April 15 Goat and Sheep Milk Cheeses of Spain and Portugal class in Madison.

The short course features a special guest coming from Portugal: Mariana Marques D’Almeida, an industry consultant, technical judge and small ruminant expert from Lisbon. Attendees will learn from both lectures and a focus on hands-on learning with a 3-hour cheesemaking lab with recipes from Spain and Portugal included. The staff at CDR are super excited about the class, and encourage artisan cheesemakers to enroll.

Bénédicte Coudé, Assistant Coordinator – Cheese Industry and Applications Group at CDR, says attendees will discover the science behind sheep, goat and mixed milk composition, coagulants, manufacturing protocols and much more.

Fee is only $150 for the entire day. Learn more and register online by clicking here.