Here's Why Cheese Curds Are One Of Cheese's Best Kept Secrets

06/16/2014 07:00 am ET
Flickr: Wendy Hollands

There's nothing like a 4-year-old cheddar to remind us of how very great cheese can be. (We're big fans of how Grafton Village Cheese in Vermont does it.) It's creamy; it's sharp; and it's downright addictive. But as great as aged cheddars are, their polar opposite -- which go by the mildly unappetizing name of cheese curd -- are equally delicious yet a thousand times harder to find.

If you have the good fortune of being from Wisconsin, have indulged in Canada's famous poutine, or have just sought these curds out on your own then we don't have to educate you on the wonders of this food. BUT, if hearing the words "cheese curd" causes you to wrinkle your nose instead of making you hungry, you need to read on. Because, folks, you are seriously missing out.

Cheese curds are what your mouth has been missing all this time. And you might want to head to the nearest cheese maker to remedy that, like, stat. But first, here's what you need to know.

  • 1 Cheese curds are a younger, spryer cheddar.
    Flickr: Howard Walfish
  • They are what cheddar is before being formed into blocks and aged. Cheddar cheese is typically aged from 60 days to 4 years before being sold, whereas cheese curds are eaten straight away. While you can find mozzarella cheese curds, or other types of cheeses, it's almost always cheddar.
  • 2 Wisconsin is famous for their curds.
    Flickr: Courtney "Coco" Mault
  • You can find cheese curds wherever there are cheesemakers, but Wisconsin is particularly famous for their curds. Wisconsinites know just how lucky they are. Residents gladly drive to the nearest cheese factory to get their fresh curds. And when they're sold at farmer's markets, they go fast.
  • 3 Cheese curds squeak when you eat them.
    Flickr: Diane Peacock
  • It's a sign of freshness (and due to air trapped inside the porous material). If a cheese curd doesn't squeak or have a rubbery texture, that means it's past its prime. Cheese curds are best within the first 12 hours of being made. After that, even if refrigerated, they just aren't the same. That's why you can't find them at the grocery store.
  • 4 Cheese curds go hand in hand with dairy farming.
    We Live in Iowa
  • Because they should be eaten so quickly after being made, they generally are only available where dairy farming happens.
  • 5 Cheese curds have a mild and salty flavor.
    Flickr: enjoyfreediving
  • The best way we can describe it is like this: cheese curds are to a block of cheddar, what a spring onion is to, well, a fully mature onion. They're tender and fresh in flavor.
  • 6 In Wisconsin, cheese curds are breaded and fried.
    Flickr: Connie Ma
  • IT'S GLORIOUS.
  • 7 Without cheese curds, we wouldn't have poutine.
    Flickr: Sher Yip
  • And what a sad, sad world that would be.

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