Squeaky Cheese Unwrapped

Squeakycheese is soft, bite-size pieces of cheese that squeak when eaten. This is actually cheddar cheese curds, which have been separated from the whey and left in their natural state instead of being pressed into a block. This cheese is not aged as is most cheddar cheese and is best kept unrefrigerated. Because of these factors, squeakycheese is not best if purchased out of a supermarket, but is best purchased directly from a cheese factory, such as Wisconsin’s Westby Cooperative Creamery. This creamery produces squeakycheese three days a week, so customers have the opportunity to purchase it fresh. Squeakycheese is best if served at room temperature or even a little warm.

Even though Wisconsin’s Westby Creamery began in 1903, the history of squeakycheese goes back a lot further than that. The legend that continues to travel with squeakycheese is that an Arab traveler filled a bag, which was made from a calf’s stomach, with milk to have on his travels. When the traveler finally stopped, the milk had clabbered into curds and whey, which would have been an early type of squeakycheese. The earliest documented use of squeakycheese is in 4000 B.C. and was with the ancient Sumarians. Another early mention of squeakycheese occurs with the monks during the Middle Ages in the Roman Empire. Today the fascinating legacy of fine cheese production continues in America’s Dairyland.

The production of squeakycheese begins with high quality milk that is rBST-free. This fresh milk is then pasteurized and heated in vats. Heating the milk aids in growing cheese cultures and getting rid of spores that could ruin the flavor of the curds. While in the vats, bacteria that produces lactic acid is added. These bacteria are also responsible for the flavor as well as the body and texture of the cheese. Annatto seed is also added to produce a natural color while rennet, a natural enzyme, is added for coagulation and firmness. The cheese is tested throughout the process to ensure that moisture content, acidity and flavor are correct. After the heating process has finished, the milk enters the cooling vats where it is allowed to rest. After sometime here, the temperature of the vats is raised to separate the curds from the whey. The curds are pumped to a unit where the whey is drained. The fresh squeakycheese is then immediately packaged and ready for consumption.

Squeakycheese makes a wonderful, healthy snack alone, or can be used in recipes. One such recipe is to batter fry them, creating a snack or appetizer.

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