What causes cheese to squeak on my teeth?
March 26, 2012 8:36 AM   Subscribe

What causes squeaky cheese?

Last night I got a veggie burrito from my ultimate favorite taqueria just a few blocks from my place. I'm assuming because it was veggie the vegetables are as hot as cooked meat the cheese wasn't melted as well. All fine and well. The cheese in mine was still in thick square chunks and I noticed as I was chewing that the cheese was squeaking against my teeth as I chewed. And the squeak was clearly audible. Why?

Is it just poor quality cheese? Or are there certain varieties that are more, erm, squeaky than others (though this didn't taste all that different)? Are there certain chemicals used in processing that would add a squeakiness factor? Is it just really dense? Low milk to curd ratio? How long it's be curing?

I went veg a couple months ago cause I kinda came around to acknowledging how many hormones and antibiotics and chemicals are involved in the livestock industry. Obviously whatever impurities in the cow are gonna get into the cheese too, but I haven't been able to jettison cheese yet cause cheese is just too damn good. (And really, what would I have left in life with no cheese??)

So second part... How bad is it to eat the aforementioned squeaky cheese?
posted by jay.eye.elle.elle. to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Cheese curds are notoriously squeaky. Wikipedia suggests that it's a result of air trapped inside (curds are a kind of fresh, soft, unaged cheese). That sounds plausible, but not immediately obvious.
posted by Nomyte at 8:39 AM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

If the cheese in your burrito was something like queso fresco/queso blanco, that's pretty similar to cheese curds (arguably, it's just a different kind of cheese curds). I find paneer to be kind of squeaky sometimes too. Fresh, uncured cheese is just kind of squeaky.
posted by mskyle at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Squeaky cheese is actually a treasured delicacy in many cheese producing regions (or at least in Wisconsin and Canada). It's not bad at all to eat, and squeakiness is not indicative of poor quality.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]

Also, the kind of traditional Mexican cheese that would go on a burrito (probably Oaxaca or Panela) isn't as easily melt-able as jack, mozzarella, or other cheeses favored by Americans, so the fact that it's not melting and it's squeaky actually suggests that it's higher quality. Oaxaca is squeakier the fresher it is.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:53 AM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

In Quebec, the best cheese curds are the freshest, and only the fresh curds squeak. After they're a day old or so, they don't squeak anymore.
posted by lizbunny at 9:29 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mmmm squeaky cheese! If you have found a taqueria that serves a burrito with squeaky cheese, never leave it.

Here in Canada, a poutine place that does not provide squeak is considered a lesser product. Only a fool eats a silent poutine.

I have no idea why they squeak, but please eat and enjoy!
posted by AmandaA at 9:34 AM on March 26, 2012 [14 favorites]

Halloumi is extremely squeaky, producing an audible sound as you eat it! I love the texture. I think its the brined cheeses which have this squeaky texture.
posted by vacapinta at 9:41 AM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sounds (heh) like queso blanco or queso fresco, and nice and fresh at that. Maybe even homemade. I'd go back to this place.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:44 AM on March 26, 2012

Queso fresco is not squeaky. It is more crumbly in texture, at least in my experience.

But there are types of Mexican braided or string cheeses which have this texture.
posted by vacapinta at 9:47 AM on March 26, 2012

Best answer: I'm a Wisconsin native, and it's not a good cheese curd if it doesn't squeak! Cheese curds are young chunks of cheese, made immediately following the separation of whey (liquid) and curd (milk solid) after milk is coagulated to make cheese. The whey and curd are stirred together and heated until the curd reaches the appropriate cheese firmness. The whey is then drained from it, and voila - you have VERY fresh cheese! They only squeak when they're very, very fresh... they lose it after about a day.

In Wisconsin, if your cheese isn't squeaking, you better have a good reason!
posted by eenagy at 10:05 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Squeaky cheese is no better or worse than any other (real, not processed) cheese, and certainly not the mark of an inferior product. The time or two that I've made fresh mozzarella, it's had a bit of a squeak to it. I figured that it might have something to do with the fact that mozzarella gets stretched over and over while being made. Many of the Mexican cheeses (asadero, quesadilla, Oaxaca) are produced the same way. I don't believe cheese curds are stretched, so that may blow that theory out of the water. Either way, you are very likely looking at some very fresh cheese.
posted by Gilbert at 10:10 AM on March 26, 2012

I don't know what makes cheese squeaky, but I agree with the consensus that it is not a mark of inferior quality. I used to get a delicious artisanal goats' milk cheese from the local farmer's market—not soft chevre, but a firm, aged cheese with a texture I can't compare to any other conventional cheese. It was the squeakiest cheese I've ever eaten and I really doubt it was full of "hormones and antibiotics and chemicals" other than salt and whatever is naturally present in goats' milk or used in the (traditional) cheese-making process.
posted by Orinda at 4:27 PM on March 26, 2012

There was a Mexican restaurant that I went to in Houston, TX that had enchiladas that had queso blanco in them. The were the best EVAR! The waiters always asked me if I was sure if I (pale gringa) wanted them. They went on to explain that only Mexicans ordered them because they were most authentic item on the menu. I think I'm trying to say - EAT THE SQUEAKY CHEESE.


As others have said, it's the freshness that makes it squeak.
posted by deborah at 6:21 PM on March 26, 2012

I LOVE squeaky cheese! That's how you know you've got the good stuff. I think it's usually younger, bouncier ripe cheeses that squeak, I've never had a squeaky old cheddar or blue. Dunno why it squeaks- because it's so clean I guess.
posted by windykites at 5:01 AM on March 31, 2012

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