If you’ve ever pressed a cheese and ended up with curd that has failed to knit together, you’ll know how disappointing this dilemma is. I certainly do!
The point of pressing your cheese is to not only expel the whey but it is also how the small curds are knitted together to form the smooth shape, texture and density of the cheese.
When the curds don’t knit properly you will get a range of results from creases, cracks and crevices throughout the cheese, or a complete catastrophe of curd that doesn’t form any kind of shape or mass and just falls apart.
So what causes a lack of knit with cheese curds?
There are a couple of likely explanations if your curds don’t knit together.
The first, and most common reason, is a lack of sufficient pressure or pressing time when molding the curds, particularly with hard cheeses like Cheddar.
It is important to follow the recipe guides for pressing weights and durations with your cheese making but also take into account if you have made a larger batch or are using a mold which might alter how the pressure is applied. For example deeper molds may require more surface pressure to compensate for the density and springiness of the curds.
Another reason you may experience a poor knit with your curd is due to the temperature of the curd when it was time to press.
If the curd is too cold when you put it into the mold, it can be very difficult to get a good knit for your cheese as the curd firms up.
If you are living in colder climates and keeping your curd warm prior to and during the pressing is a problem, one way to keep your curd warm enough is to press in the pot.
To do this, put your empty, clean stockpot in the sink. Put your cheese, in its mold, into the stockpot and then put your first weight requirement from the recipe on top to press the cheese. Plate weights are good for this purpose.
Next fill the sink with hot water so that the inside of the pot reaches approximately 30 degrees Celsius and put the lid on. Keep your cheese pressing in the pot for the first press and 2nd press (after the first turn).
The warmth of the pot will also warm the curd and should help them to knit nicely together to form a fabulous cheese.
On the flipside, curd that is too hot can also have problems. If you warm your curd too quickly during the make a skin can form on the surface of the curd and can retard the knitting process so it’s important to keep your curd within the recommended temperatures to avoid problems.
So if you’re struggling with getting a good curd knit keep an eye on your pressing weight and times, and also your curd temperatures. And if you are still having problems with your cheese, post a comment below and let the Curd-Nerd community help you out : )
For more information about pressing your cheese, check out these posts: