Cheese: Working the Curd

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Once the curd has formed it is worked in one way or another to produce the characteristic texture of the particular type of cheese. For the very softest types of French cheese, it is simply lifted from the whey with a perforated ladle and set in perforated tin hoops or other forms and allowed to drain by the force of gravity. But for most cheeses, which are harder, the curd is cut up or even passed through a mill or shredded with a wire ‘harp’ to break it down into grains. This both helps the drainage of whey and determines the size of the grains or flakes which are discernible in many hard cheeses, especially English ones. In ‘Cheddaring’, the method by which cheddar and many related hard cheeses are made, the cut curd is stacked in a tall pile to force out whey, and then milled to break the grains down to a small size. Some american cheeses such as ‘washed curd’, ‘stirred curd’, and ‘granular’ types, as well as other kinds of softer than normal Cheddar, are given less drastic treatments so that more moisture is left in the curd. Salt may be added now or later.