Draining, Shaping, and Salting the Curds

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The curds can be drained of their whey in several ways, depending on how much moisture the cheesemaker wants to remove from the curd. For some soft cheeses, the whole curd is carefully ladled into molds and allowed to drain by force of gravity alone, for many hours. For firmer cheeses, the curd is precut into pieces to provide more surface area from which the whey can drain or be actively pressed. The cut curd of large hard cheeses may also be “cooked” in its whey to 130°F/55°C, a temperature that not only expels whey from the curd particles, but also affects bacteria and enzymes, and encourages flavor-producing chemical reactions among some milk components. Once the curd pieces are placed in the mold that gives the cheese its final shape, they may be pressed to squeeze out yet more moisture.