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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce curdle (audio)

Dictionary definition of curdle

To separate a liquid such as milk, cream, or sauce into curds or lumps.
"The heat from the stove caused the custard to curdle and separate."

Detailed meaning of curdle

This separation is often caused by the introduction of an acidic substance, such as lemon juice or vinegar, which causes the proteins in the liquid to coagulate and form solid clumps or lumps. Curdling can also be a natural process that occurs when certain types of foods spoil or ferment. The resulting curdled liquid can be unappetizing and often has a sour or unpleasant taste. In cooking, curdling can be desirable in some recipes, such as when making cheese or yogurt. However, in other recipes, such as sauces or custards, curdling can ruin the dish and make it unusable. Overall, curdling is a chemical process that results in the separation of liquid components and can be caused by a variety of factors, both intentional and unintentional.

Example sentences containing curdle

1. The fresh milk will curdle if you leave it out in the sun.
2. Add lemon juice to the warm milk to make it curdle.
3. The cheese-making process starts when you curdle the milk.
4. I was horrified to see the blood curdle in the gruesome movie scene.
5. If you don’t stir the sauce continuously, it may curdle.
6. When the egg is heated too quickly, it might curdle in the pan.

History and etymology of curdle

The verb 'curdle' has its etymological origins in Old English and Middle English. It is believed to be derived from the Old English word 'crudan' and its Middle English form 'curden,' both of which meant 'to make or become curdled.' The term is closely associated with the process of milk or other liquids undergoing a chemical change that causes them to separate into curds and whey. This transformation is often a result of the introduction of an acidic substance, like lemon juice or vinegar, into the liquid. The etymology of 'curdle' reflects its historical connection to the coagulation of liquids, particularly in the context of dairy products. When a liquid 'curdles,' it forms lumps or curds, which can be used in the production of cheese and other dairy-based products.

Quiz: Find the meaning of curdle

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Further usage examples of curdle

1. She didn’t want to curdle the milk, so she added vinegar very slowly.
2. The chef knew exactly how to curdle the cream for the recipe.
3. The eerie scream made his blood curdle in fright.
4. Don't curdle the mixture by adding cold butter to it.
5. The mayonnaise began to curdle once the oil was added too quickly.
6. Before adding lemon juice, make sure the milk is warm enough to curdle.
7. The yogurt will curdle if you keep it past its expiration date.
8. The horror stories he told made my blood curdle.
9. To curdle the soy milk, you can use a coagulant like nigari.
10. The chemical reaction caused the liquid to curdle and thicken.
11. The chef explained how the acid in vinegar causes the proteins in milk to curdle.
12. She was careful not to let the eggs curdle when making custard.
13. The sauce started to curdle when he added wine to it.
14. Be cautious when making Hollandaise sauce, as high heat can cause it to curdle.



coagulate, smooth, liquefy, dissolve


SAT 17 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Decay and Degeneration, Food and Drink

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