Making your own cheese curds at home requires several special ingredients, takes many, many hours, and there are a lot of steps. Other than that, it’s a pretty quick and easy thing to do. So, if you’re planning on making poutine, and there’s a store nearby that sells fresh curds, you should really consider that Plan A. This recipe is Plan B.
Having said that, this is still a fun, satisfying project, and even someone as inexperienced as I am can produce a decent product. Keep in mind; we’re eventually going to pour hot beef gravy all over these, so that should help everyone stay relaxed. Some of the ingredients below sound exotic and kind of scary, but they’re all easy to find in health food stores, or online, and used properly, are completely safe.
With that in mind, I encourage you to do some research on things like sterilizing equipment, and other best practices. While their times, temps, and procedures are slightly different, I referred to these fine videos by ChefSteps and Gavin Webber. In regards to complexity of technique, my method falls somewhere between those two, but they’re both well worth checking out for more info.
Besides the time involved, the hardest thing is keeping everything at those relatively low temps. A sous vide set-up would be prefect for this, but a double-boiler does work. Just keep a thermometer in place, and once the milk gets up to 90 F., alternate between low heat and no heat to get where you need to be.
Is it worth all the effort? I’m not sure, but fried cheese curds are a very nice treat, and having a cube of fresh cheese to pop into your mouth anytime you get the urge is pretty sweet, and then of course we have Poutine. Which is the only reason most people know that cheese curds are even a thing. So, if Plan A isn’t an option, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!
Ingredients for about 1 Pound Cheese Curds:
1 gallon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon calcium chloride crystals, diluted in 1/4 cup of water
1/8 teaspoon mesophilic culture
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet, diluted in 1/4 cup of water (Check directions on package, as the strengths can vary. Mine was “double-strength”)
*kosher salt to season finished curds
* You want to apply exactly 1% kosher salt based on the weight of the finished curds. For example, if you end up with 400 grams of cheese curds, then season with 4 grams of salt.