Cheese curds are the fresh curds of cheese, often Cheddar.
They are generally available in retail stores operated at cheese factories
throughout the countries of Canada and the United States (especially in the
USA's Upstate New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, and Canada's
provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick where they can be found in many
Left: Cheese curds.
Cheese curds are little-known in locations without cheese
factories, because they should ideally be eaten within hours of manufacture.
Their flavor is mild with about the same firmness as cheese, but has a springy
or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a
defining characteristic. Cheese curds are sometimes referred to as "Squeaky
cheese". They are sometimes somewhat salty. The American variety are
usually yellow or orange in color, like most American Cheddar cheese. Other
varieties, such as the Québécois and New York variety, can be roughly the same
color as white Cheddar cheese.
After twelve hours, even under refrigeration, they have lost much of their
"fresh" characteristics, particularly the "squeak".
After twenty-four hours, they will lose their freshness entirely. If they are
purchased locally and need to be kept for a couple of days, room temperature,
rather than refrigeration, may preserve the flavor and "squeak".
Cheese curds are a main ingredient in
poutine, which is a
dish consisting of french fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with
brown gravy and sometimes additional ingredients. Poutine is a diner staple
which originated in Quebec during the 1960s. Fast food chains such as Burger
King and A&W offer poutine as part of their regular menu in Canada and can be
substituted instead of French Fries.