Squeaky cheese curds
Updated: Aug 8
Best fresh on the day, these are a delicious treat available everywhere... in Québec!
Cheese curds, that we call in French “Fromage en grain” (or in slang “fromage en crottes”) are unfinished cheddar curds made from fresh pasteurized milk. The moist curdled milk pieces make a funny “squeak squeak” in the mouth and that’s why it’s often called “squeaky cheese”. At the end of the 50s, dairy farmers created this product as a solution for selling their excess production milk. Since then, anywhere in Québec, you can buy cheese curds. They are available fresh on the day in supermarkets, fromageries (cheese shops) and dépanneurs (corner stores). It is best at room temperature and after 24h it must be refrigerated. It can still be good to eat but then gets very ordinary as the texture becomes different and the squeak effect is lost. Fresh cheese curds can be reproduced anywhere else outside Québec but can be commercially challenging when there is poor demand. That is mostly due to the fact of the short life of the cheese. Cheese curds are an essential element to the traditional Québec Poutine, so this unique dish is the key to their continual production survival and success in the belle province*.
HOME COOKING TIPS
Cheese curds are white, mild and soft with a particular moist consistency, which makes a “squeak” sound and feels on teeth when bitten. They are yummy just as a snack and the best way to use them in a dish is on a classic poutine. If you visit Québec someday, don’t miss trying a traditional old-style poutine at any dairy farm region snack bar. In Montreal, go to La Banquise, a famous place where the poutine has been revolutionized. For more info about the dish and how to reproduce a poutine at home, read my Poutinology post and stay tuned for more… as the biggest secrets are kept for the book! I have been experimenting with making cheese curds at home and had success on my second trial. By gathering all the best methods together, I will have many tips and sources to tell you how to make your own curds at home with easy-to-find ingredients.
* La Belle Province is a nickname for Québec but also the name of a fast-food chain that serves poutine among all the greasy favourites like club sandwiches, Montreal hot-dogs, smoked meat sandwiches and souvlakis.
Cheese curds and poutine, yes please • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2018-19
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