The next step after adding the Rennet and allowing the curd to form is to cut it. Some recipes will tell you to cut the curd, while others may tell you to completely skip this step and instead ladle your curd from the pot straight into the cheese molds. This is common in recipes like Camembert and Brie. Although you’re not traditionally cutting the curd in these types of cheeses, you still are almost like slicing your curd with the ladle and removing the curd from the pot helps the curd stay larger and retain more moisture. This is needed when making extremely soft cheeses.
What method works best for you is the method that you should use for cutting the curd.
Why You Need to Cut the Curd
When you are cutting the cheese curd, you should be aiming for a uniform, consistent cube of curd. You want to avoid any crushed curds or lots of smaller uneven curds. This is why a lot of recipes specify the size of the cut and that you should evenly cut your cut. Uneven cuts will result in increased butterfat loss along with milk solids and how you end up with a drier, crumblier cheese.
Cutting the curd may seem a bit stressful in the beginner stages of cheesemaking, but once you practice and do your research, you’ll be a confident curd cutter in no time!
What Should You Use to Cut the Curd?
This device is specifically used for cutting curds.
Most homemade cheesemakers, including us, tend to use a curd knife to cut the curd. What makes a curd knife different is the long blade and straight edge. Any kind of knife that’s that sort is fine to use.
How to Cut the Curd
To start cutting your curd, you should start by putting the knife in at the point from the edge of the pot that matches your required size as specified in the recipe. Cut through the curd from one side of the pot to the other side, making sure that the knife goes all the way down to the bottom of the pot.
Move the knife across the same distance as the required curd size and repeat the process again. Continue moving across the pot until you have equal lines across one side to the other.
Next, turn your pot 90 degrees and follow the same method above until you end up with a checkerboard formation in your curd.
Now that you have a checkerboard cut in your curd, put your knife back in at a 45-degree angle and cut the same distance, keeping your knife at 45 degrees the whole time. Turn the pot 90 degrees and repeat the process while covering the curd that wasn’t done in the last cut.
After the cuts are done, very carefully, use your ladle and gently turn the curds over so you can bring the larger pieces that haven’t been cut to the surface. It’s important to use caution and take your time when it comes to working with the curd. That being said, you don’t need to panic if your curd cuts aren’t perfect, especially at first. As long as they are the general size, you should be fine.
When you cut your curds, you’ll notice the whey and some butterfat being released from the curd. The whey will start off a whiteish color and transform to more of a greenish color as the butterfat disappears. This is normal.
For a lot of harder cheeses, such as Parmesan, the curd may need to be cut much smaller and a whisk tends to be the tool of choice to achieve this. Using a whisk, you a gently move the curd cubes around and cut the curds a little smaller. You should note that you should not use the whisk as you traditionally would and whisk up the curds. You should use gentle motions when using the whisk in the curds.
Regardless of how you cut your curds, once they are cut, allow them to heal for a few minutes before preceding onto the next step of the recipe.
For a more in-depth look at How to cut the curd watch this video
Video Credit to Gürkan Yeniçeri