Answering A Common Curd Query
When visitors come to Face Rock Creamery they walk down our cheese line and are oftentimes surprised to see that our curds are served out in the open on an unrefrigerated shelf. This leads to two of our most common curd queries: 1. Curds are cheese and these aren’t refrigerated so are they safe to eat? And 2. Why don’t you refrigerate them like all the rest of your cheeses?
Here’s the scientific reasoning:
In the process of making our cheese, the whey is drained from the curds and the curds are then salted. Salt is a natural preservative as well as a flavoring agent. So the addition of salt, along with the elimination of MOST of the whey brings the PH balance of the curd down to very low levels. Studies show that the PH level remains low for up to 3 days unrefrigerated. Our curds are put out immediately after they exit the vat to ensure the freshest curd available to the public. They are also highly monitored to make sure they are out no longer than 3 days. Add to this the high rate at which the curds are sold after they are put on the shelf, and the fact that they are usually eaten straight out of the bag like potato chips (!) and hardly make it to the parking lot before they’re gone, and we have almost no issues with harmful bacteria.
How do you tell if a curd is fresh?
The biggest proof a curd is fresh is the squeak.
Once the curds are created, they are naturally wet, having just had the whey drained from them. Since they haven’t had any time to age their texture is quite rubbery. Thus, when you take a bite they squeak against your teeth. Even though most of the whey is removed it still coats the curd in moisture. According to our head cheesemaker Brad, it’s this moisture barrier that makes the curds squeak.
As the curds age OR if you refrigerate your curds something happens that changes all that. The moisture from the whey is absorbed by the curd and that coating is removed. Additionally, refrigeration chills the curd and makes it hard- not soft as it would be right out of the vat. So it’s no longer considered to be fresh “squeaky cheese.”
SO, what’s a person to do to keep that squeak?
Buy the freshest curds that you can. Eat what you want, but if you can’t finish the bag right away or if you intend to keep it for a while put it into the refrigerator. Once refrigerated, you can usually keep the curds about two weeks. Before you eat them here’s the trick: put your curds in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to restore the “right out of the vat” texture and squeak. Microwaving them briefly warms the curd, brings back that soft, rubbery texture, and releases the moisture that was absorbed by the curd… and when you restore the moisture, you’ll get that squeak we all know and love!
We find that most folks love our curds fresh out of the bag for snacking. But they are fun to cook with as well! Check out our Curd Recipes and explore new ways to enjoy your squeaky cheese!