They’re a Midwestern staple, and an integral part of poutine, Canada’s national dish- but for the rest of us, if we think about cheese curds at all, they’re merely a novelty snack food. Curds (also known as squeaky cheese, for the sound they make when they rub against the teeth) are made from the curdled milk solids formed in the early stages of the cheesemaking process. The resulting mild, slightly rubbery, strangely addictive nuggets are usually consumed fresh or battered and fried (curds don’t melt completely, but rather, achieve a pleasing, gooey consistency).
Domestic cheddar curds are the most popular type found on the market, produced by small artisan cheesemakers as well as nationally-recognized brands. Haystack Mountain began making curds from pasteurized cow’s milk to meet consumer and wholesale demand. Breweries, in particular, clamored for us to make curds, as they’re a popular bar snack.
Ask, and you shall receive. Our cheddar-style curds are made milk sourced from family-owned Longmont Dairy, and made by head cheesemaker Jackie Chang and her crew. Currently, we offer plain curds, but Jackie has almost perfected her Bloody Mary Cheddar Curd and Green Chile and Lime Curd recipes, so look for them at your local grocery, cheese shop or farmers market soon.
The next time you’re confronted with a bag of curds, resist the urge to scarf them all, and try the following:
Make Bloody Mary’s and martinis more special
We’re semi-purists when it comes to cocktail garnishes- pass on the Bloody Mary’s bristling with a refrigerator’s-worth of ingredients. But a few skewered curds interspersed with spicy green olives or pickled red chilies? Yes, please. You can also stuff olives with curds for a vamped-up version of the Dirty Martini (we recommend pairing with a whey-based vodka like Black Cow).
Amp up your eggs
Add to scrambles just before they set for extra creaminess, or fold into omelets.
Give grits a little more love
Stir until semi-melted, and add a dash or three of hot sauce (we love the ones from Boulder’s own Motherlode Provisions). Psst- they also make a righteous Bloody Mary mix.
Make grain-based dishes pop
Toss with farro and roasted root vegetables or other seasonal ingredients (cherry tomatoes, corn and fresh herbs, grilled asparagus and prosciutto, caramelized mushrooms and leeks, kale and bacon…). Curds also play well with barley, bulgur, quinoa, Israeli couscous and orzo pasta. Use as you would feta or mozzarella.
Marinate in aromatics
Combine with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, fresh red chilies or chile flakes and fresh herbs or citrus peel; seal in a sterilized canning or Mason jar, and keep for up to one week in the refrigerator. Use in green, pasta or grain salads, heap on crostini or serve with roasted or grilled vegetables.