By Michael Welch
The talk these days is all about aged cheeses, with the number of years as a mark of superior quality. No doubt all that aging makes for great flavor but sometimes fresh is best, and that’s where the ugly curd comes in. Odd shaped and craggy, they’re not much to look at, but a delight to munch on. Imagine very firm and tangy butter with a generous touch of sea salt that you eat with your fingers and you’ve got curd.
Ideally eaten within a day of being made, curds are the result of mixing milk with rennet and some acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Adding acid causes the milk proteins to clump into a solid, edible chunk. In the Finger Lakes curds aren’t hard to come by; Hillcrest Dairy in Moravia is selling some good chunks, so is Moore Farm in Nichols and there are many others.
Ask the cheese makers at your local farmers’ markets if they don’t mind carrying some. And if the look of curds is still too much of a turn off for you, try battering and deep-frying them; anything crisp and golden brown with a gooey center is a beauty in my kitchen.
This article originally appeared in our Spring 2008 edition.