How well do you know your cheese curds?
John Slawinski, head cheesemaker at Clock Shadow Creamery in Milwaukee, explains where cheese curds come from, why they’re awesome and what makes them squeak.
Every day in Wisconsin is a good day to have cheese curds. Nationally, the unofficial official cheese curd day is Oct. 15. For those new to these nuggets of cheese goodness, here's the word on the curd.
1. It takes a lot of dairy. About 10 pounds of milk are required to produce 1 pound of curds.
2. Get that cheddar. All styles of cheese start as curds — you could make curds from Parmesan if you wanted — but cheddar produces the curds we've come to know and love.
3. Curds are colorblind. But some curds are yellow-orange and others are white. Aren't they different types of cheese? Nope. There can be color differences depending on the milk (yes, a cow's diet affects their milk), but mostly the color variation comes from the addition of annatto that turns white curds yellow-orange.
4. Go Pack! Some enterprising cheesemakers have added more colors to curds. Ron's Wisconsin Cheese has a green and gold mix for your tailgating pleasure, and a mix of red, pink and white curds for your sweetheart.
5. Squeak test. Elastic protein strands rub against the enamel of your teeth to create that squeak we've all come to adore.
6. Lost that squeaky feeling? Get it back by heating curds for a few seconds in a microwave oven.
7. Let's get deep fried. Deep fried curds are either coated with a batter or dry breading before going golden brown.
8. Celebrate the curd. Curds get an entire festival to themselves every June in Ellsworth.
9. Life is better with cheddar. Culver's may be the unofficial cheese curd ambassador. The Wisconsin-based chain sells curds in 24 states. In 2016, the franchise sold 21 million orders. That's more than 678 million individual cheese curds served. Every curd comes from La Grander Hillside Dairy in Stanley. By the way: You could win cheese curds for a year via Culver’s Life is Better with Cheddar Sweepstakes. You have until Oct. 29 to enter.
10. Day of the curd. National Day Calendar marks Oct. 15 as National Cheese Curd Day. The idea to give curds their own day was submitted by, you guessed it, Culver's back in 2015.
Sources: Culver's, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board