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Cheese Curds
From top to bottom: Garlic Curds, Jalapeño Curds, Chipotle Curds. Photo by Gina Erdmann.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.

 

September 2005
Updated September 2006

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

The Rogue Creamery Cheese Curds

Eating Her Curds And [Not] The Whey!

 

 

CAPSULE REPORT: People who have passed through Wisconsin tell tales of squeaky cheese curds and treks from creamery to creamy to buy cheese curds (or from bar to bar to otherwise taste them). We felt we were missing out until we found these gourmet cheese curds from Rogue Creamery—in the Rogue Valley of Oregon! We hope to get to Wisconsin someday, but until then, we have found cheese curd heaven. While they came by mail and some stayed in our refrigerator as long as a month  (still delicious), they were a wonderful first experience with fresh cheese curds.

We have never been to Wisconsin, the Shangri-La of cheese curds—where, we are told, bowls of fresh cheese curds can be had on menus at every eatery and bar, where they squeak when you bite them. We look forward to a cheese curd tour of verdant Wisconsin, where many of the cheese factories make fresh cheese curds daily—a cheese lover’s version of a pilgrimage through Sonoma County. The other location to find cheese curds, by the way, is Quebec, where they are mixed with French fries and gravy to create the beloved French-Canadian snack, poutine (think of disco fries, a New Jersey concept consisting of french fries covered in brown gravy with melted cheese on top—or perhaps you’d rather not).

Cheese curds are the fresh curds of young cheddar cheese. They are sold in their natural, random shapes—before they would be pressed into wheels or blocks and aged (cheddar can be aged from 60 days to four years before its release). They are large nuggets, the size of unshelled peanuts or larger.

Unlike aged cheeses, which were originally created as a way to preserve milk, or even fresh young chevres which can be enjoyed for 30 or 60 days, curds are ideally eaten the day they are made. After 12 hours, they have lost much of their fresh curd charm; after 24 hours they are “fresh” no longer and they lose their characteristic squeak. They will remain moist and tasty for a few days and then start to dry out—which may be why Wisconsinites like to deep-fry them and serve them with ranch dressing. And that’s why curds are not well known outside of areas where cheese is made. (Vacuum packaging, in which we received our curds, preserved them just fine.)

Where do curds come from? As milk is converted to cheese, it produces the solid curds and and the liquid whey. The whey is drained off and the curds are pressed together in molds to form the cheese. (Curds and whey, the dish enjoyed by Little Miss Muffet, is an older British term for cottage cheese—in which you can clearly see both the curds and the whey.)

Cheese Curds LabelAs with all cheeses, quality varies widely depending on the manufacturer. There are mass-producers and artisans, journeyman cheesemakers and great masters. So imagine if one of the best cheesemakers in the world, international award-winning The Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon (nowhere near Wisconsin, we need hardly point out), produces a line of hand milled cheese curds. These are curds for the cheese connoisseur—regular curds plus flavored curds in Chipotle, Garlic, Jalapeño, Paprika and Pesto. The results are truly glorious nubs of cheese that would be criminal to deep-fry or adulterate in any way.

Serving Suggestions

These are simply wonderful mouthfuls of cheese, which we served fresh cheese curds:

  • As hors d’oeuvres, with toothpicks
  • As a side, at breakfast with eggs; at lunch with sandwiches and burgers
  • As part of a salade composée
  • As grilled (or microwaved) cheese—especially popular in toasted pita—with fresh tomato
  • Atop pizza, instead of mozzarella—Rogue Creamery’s curds are more substantive and flavorful than mozzarella and make a delicious pizza topper
  • Atop fettuccini, after warming the pesto curds for 10 seconds in the microwave... which created a new fusion comfort food we liked so much that we tried the heated curds...
  • On crusty bread and then on toast, both with added pesto, and loved it (kind of a 21st century replacement for creamed chipped beef on toast)
  • And in all cases, tossed with some freshly-snipped basil leaves from our indoor plants.

Might we add that Rogue Creamery curds are not only a delicious food, they are a fun food. You don’t have to reach too far back in cheesedom to find another fun treat, cheese fondue. Cheese curds are a worthy successor.

Suggested Wine Pairings

Since curds are not aged and are thus very light in traditional cheese flavors, the flavoring agents become prevalent in considering wine matches. Curds pair well with lighter white and red wines, and with most beers. Consider these pairings:

  • Chipotle and Jalapeño Curds: Ales, Lagers, Pilsners
  • Garlic Curds: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir
  • Pesto Curds: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir
  • Plain and Salted Curds: Chenin Blanc, Rose, Pinot Noir

Where To Begin

All the flavors are excellent (our favorites were Jalapeño and Pesto, but we will gladly re-order them all), and the gift sampler box with one package of each flavor is the way to go. The resealable vacuum packaging preserves freshness even after they are opened, so you don’t have to worry about being overloaded with six six-ounce packets of curds (as cheese lovers know, six ounces is one portion). And by the way...you can microwave your curds in the oven for 4 to 6 seconds and they will squeak.

THE ROGUE CREAMERY
Chipotle Curds, Garlic Curds, Jalapeño Curds, Paprika Curds, Pesto Curds, Salted (Plain) Curds

  • Sampler Gift Box
    6 Ounces Each Of 6 Flavors
    $52.00

Price and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping additional.

Purchase online at RogueGoldCheese.com

If you want to try the authentic Wisconsin product—and we haven’t yet—you can order it from Renard’s Cheese of Sturgeon Bay (look under Cheddar).

Cheese CurdsIf your’re going to buy cheese curds for the first time, try this Sampler Gift Box.

Curds & Whey More

Guide to Cheeses Fondues Totally Cheese
Guide to Cheeses of the World: A dazzling look at 1200 different cheeses. Your sure to be impressed. Click here for more information or to purchase. Fondues from Around the World: Nearly 200 recipes from fish to desserts. Click here for more information or to purchase. Totally Cheese Cookbook: Easy to read and follow recipes that are all about cheese. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Cheese Deserves To Be Accessorized

Global Decor Cheese Set Cheese Spreaders  
Global Decor Cheese Set: Entertain in style with this 3-piece cheese set and wood cutting board. Click here for more information or to purchase. Cheese Spreaders: These poppy red spreaders are perfect for any time of year. Click here for more information.  

 

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