Ag Experience Insider: Cheese Curds Galore

The cheese curd. A staple of state fairs, found in some fast food establishments, and known as a Wisconsin delicacy. Cheese curds were not always so popular in South Dakota, but Farm Life Creamery is helping to change that. Continue reading to learn why Farm Life Creamery decided to start making cheese curds and how they make them fresh for consumers to enjoy.

Introducing the Curd

When you decide that the best way to keep the small dairy farm alive is to make your own product, where do you even start product wise? For us, it was fresh cheese curds! There were a few reasons behind that decision. One reason is that cheese curds can be packaged and brought to consumers quickly. Choosing to start there allowed us to be out offering samples of our new product and to begin introducing our brand before we were even set up to welcome visitors to our creamery! We did a lot of sampling to start, and learned that many people here were unfamiliar with how amazing a simple cheese curd tastes! So from the start, we were educating, and introducing something “new” to the area.

Another reason we started there: we saw a hole in the local market for fresh flavored cheese curds. I (Laura) am originally from Wisconsin and didn’t even realize how much of a curd nerd I am until there just wasn’t the plethora of options I grew up with. So of course when we started our own creamery and were deciding what cheeses to make, we not only looked for gaps to fill so we weren’t just making the same thing already on the shelf, we were certainly going to go after something that I missed dearly. A really great squeaky cheese curd! And because we are small batch, if we want to make two packages of some weird flavor, we can. We currently have 42 different options! (PS: our Chocolate Cheddar came from Wisconsin influence too!)

Making the Curd

In the cheesemaking process, the curds are placed in molds and put under weight/pressure to drain the residual whey out and achieve a nice, tightly bonded cheese wheel or block. Our blocks are aged in our cooler for a minimum of 30 days before we retail package and sell them as a block of cheese. Cheese curds are not pressed. We collect them into drain tubs, allow them to drain overnight, and then we package them the next day. We do this weekly, and no matter how many other products we have added to our lineup, cheese curds have remained our top seller.

Loving the Curd

Once refrigerated, the cheese curd “squeak” diminishes, but If you want the squeak back, microwave them for 8-10 seconds, and/or serve at room temperature. Even after many weeks though, cheese curds are delicious cheese that you can cook with, melt, and still absolutely enjoy them as a healthy snack!

Fun Fact: Did you know that Cheddar Cheese is NATURALLY white in color? Someone a long time ago decided to dye it orange to differentiate their product. We choose not to add any extra processes or dyes to our natural products.