The Science Behind A Cheese Curd Squeak

Here in Wisconsin, we know and appreciate the squeak of fresh cheese curds and the string of quality mozzarella. But how can processors maintain that freshness and quality so that people outside of America’s Dairyland can still have that same experience?

These are questions that the Center for Dairy Research at UW-Madison is looking into.

CDR Director John Lucey says the center has partnered with an audiology department on campus to record the sound of a cheese curd squeak.

“They’re helping us analyze that and figure out what is it about early cheese that’s just been made that really is squeaky, and why does it lose the squeak?” Lucey says. “The idea there is if we can figure that out maybe we can have fresh squeaky cheese curds that can last more than a few days.”

Mozzarella is the largest cheese variety produced in the U.S. CDR is looking at how to control its functionality and performance. Over the last few years, the center has also been working on extending the shelf life of cheese for export purposes.

“We’re exporting maybe about 5-6 percent of our cheese from the U.S., but over the next 10 or 20 years, we’d really like to increase that percentage of our cheese that we can sell to the world,” Lucey says.

He says the center has been studying cheeses that are a potential target for export, such as mozzarella, cream cheese, and cheddar for processing. Researchers are looking at how to extend the shelf life of the qualities of the cheeses, such as melting and shredding.

“Lots of cool, exciting work going on here at the CDR,” Lucey says.