We Talked Poutine With A Cheese Expert & Won't Take Curds For Granted Ever Again

So THAT'S why it's squeaky! 🧀

Assistant Editor, MTL Blog
Fred Le Fromager Urbain holding a poutine from La Banquise, Right: The Classic poutine from La Banquise.

Fred Le Fromager Urbain holding a poutine from La Banquise, Right: The Classic poutine from La Banquise.

@mikechaar | MTL Blog

Just three ingredients make up one of the most sinfully delicious dishes in Quebec. Most of us who have devoured a poutine or two in our lifetime know those standard three: fries, gravy and of course, cheese. But not just any cheese, it's gotta be cheese curds.

Cheese curds aren't given enough credit for being the MVP of poutine ingredients. Without them, you've just got fries and sauce, or as we call it here "frites sauce" — so a genius amount of curds is needed to create the classic dish.

Vous ne penserez plus jamais au fromage de la même façon!www.youtube.com

Despite being familiar with its mouthwatering taste and squeaky goodness, until recently there was not much else about the key ingredient that I curd honestly tell you about. So, I sat down with Quebec content creator and cheese pro Fred Le Fromager Urbain at none other than (arguably) Montreal's finest poutine spot, La Banquise, and we dished on all things cheese curds.

It's safe to say I won't be taking them for granted any longer.

Why are cheese curds squeaky?

The one characteristic of cheese curds most folks know about is the squeaky sound they make with every bite. Now, how is it possible for a cheese to even make a sound? Well, it turns out it all comes down to age.

Fred explained that the reason cheese curds make a squeaky sound is that it's a very young aged cheese — or bébé fromage — as the Fromager Urbain put it. "When you skip the pressing stage, and the fresher a cheese curd is, the more it will make a squeaky sound," he said.

You gotta catch a curd while it's real fresh though, because after two or three days, the squeak is no longer, Fred said.

What ingredients make up cheese curds?

While we all know milk is a required ingredient for making cheese — there are a total of four ingredients needed to produce cheese curds.

Milk or cream, depending on the cheese you make, is the first and most crucial ingredient to getting your curd on. Next up, you've got bacterial cultures. Fred says this is the ingredient that raises the most eyebrows but rest assured, it's the good kind of bacteria.

Enzymes known as rennet are then used to coagulate the mixture; helping the cheese bind together in a "jello-like way," Fred said. Toss in a little bit of salt next, and you've got yourself cheese curds in the making.

How long do cheese curds take to make?

Fred, who actually makes his own cheese curds at home, says it can take up to five hours to produce cheese curds from start to finish. While this can seem lengthy, the final result is worth every minute of cheese-making.

Should you refrigerate cheese curds?

It's best not to put your cheese curds in the refrigerator for optimal squeakiness, Fred shared. Cheese curds are often found sitting at room temperature in grocery stores and local markets — that's because keeping them at room temp helps the cheese curds preserve their squeakiness.

Is it expensive to make your own cheese curds?

Fred said that the cost all comes down to how much dairy milk is going for. The Fromager Urbain says that 1 kilogram of milk will make roughly 100 grams of cheese curds. If there's a cheese that costs $30 at the grocery store, Fred says that he can make it himself for $10 — it'd just take a few hours.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Mike Chaar
Assistant Editor, MTL Blog
Mike Chaar is a writer by day and reality TV binge-watcher by night. When he’s not cracking down on recalls, celeb news and discovering the best of the best foodie spots across Montreal, he can be found indulging in his love for new cuisines, reading and music, with Mariah Carey being his ultimate diva.
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