Get ready for it. Today is Squeaky Cheese Day, or at least it is according to Tillamook Cheese, which celebrates its 104th birthday by offering their cheddar cheese curds for the very first time to curd enthusiasts. Typically, Tillamook only offers their curds at their factory in Oregon. 104 is a big birthday, though, and so if you get your order in on time, you, too, can partake. Apparently there's a limited number of curds available. Hot commodity alert.
And lucky me, I received a preview package of the curds a few days ago and have been playing around with them ever since. I've shared them with coworkers and have gotten us through some hunger cravings. But mainly, I love grating cheese curds on the large holes of a box grater. Sprinkle in eggs, melt on toast, make a quesadilla. When melted, curds become gooey like mozzarella. This ain't no gruyere, that's for sure. Melty cheese curds are ridiculously stringy, almost like a caramel candy. I've been making cheese curd grilled cheese sandwiches. But cheese curds are truly amazing in mashed potatoes, or Pommes Aligot. So, so good.
Tillamook's curds come from their cheddar vats, which churn out a cheddar that's remained unchanged for the past 104 years. It's a recipe that earned them a cheese award for the World's best mild cheddar in 2010. And I never knew until I started reading up on Tillamook that it's a cooperative, made up of hundreds of family-run farms. The farmers are owners in the company itself.
A bit on cheese curds: They're fun. They squeak when you bite down on them. They're almost kitschy. Or retro. I never went to state fairs as kid, but I hear that fried cheese curds are a major draw. Deep frying them for a party could inspire some serious nostalgia for your guests. Served alongside some deviled eggs or pigs in a blanket could be positively cute.
They're fun to snack on. And perhaps it's the cheese professional in me, but I find it interesting to look at curds in their natural state. Cheese is basically curd, manipulated in some form or another. And thusly, curds give a bit of insight into the cheesemaking process. Pretty cool. You can even try making them yourself.You can't find cheese curds just anywhere, like a block of cheddar. So if you do see them, pick up a pack. Or if you're so inclined, order some TODAY from Tillamook. Proceeds go not only to your stomach, but also to The Oregon Food Bank. If only all curd consumption was so charitable.
Visit Tillamook's website to order cheese curds → Squeaky Cheese Day page. Two bags (weighing about a pound and a half total) come in a shipment and costs $15.
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and recipe developer in New York.
Related: The Squeakier the Better: Cheese Curds
(Image: Tillamook, used with permission.)