Rinds are the outside shell of cheese that forms during the cheesemaking process. Rinds are natural and usually edible, as opposed to other coverings
, such as wax and cloth, that are inedible.
Although rinds are edible, the question you need to ask is, do I want to eat it? If the flavor and texture of the rind enhances the experience of eating the cheese, the answer is yes. Just use your judgment. If a rind does not look appealing to you,or the texture is too hard, or it tastes bad to you, don’t eat it. The cheese, not the rind, should be the star of the show.
Brie. Photo by Getty Images/Rosemary Calvert
Bloomy rinds are white and soft, sometimes even fuzzy. Cheesemakers spray a solution containing edible mold spores (Penicillium candidum, camemberti or glaucum
) on the cheese. Humidity in the room where the cheese is ripened encourages this mold to grow, or bloom, and form a rind. The only reason you might not want to eat a bloomy rind is if the rind has separated from the cheese somewhat, has a gritty texture or an ammoniated
Examples of bloomy rinds: Brie, Camembert, Saint Andre, ,Mt. Tam
Epoisses cheese. Photo courtesy of Price Grabber
Look at the color of the rind. Does it have a noticeably orange or reddish hue? If so, it is likely to be a washed rind. Brine or alcohol (or both) is washed over these cheeses, creating a damp environment where edible molds, like B.linens,
like to grow. Washed rind cheeses are often the most aromatic, or what some people call “stinky cheese.” The flavor of the cheese is typically stronger and saltier, due to the brine and alcohol. Washed rinds are edible, although you might want to avoid the rind if it tastes excessively salty.
Examples of washed rinds: Epoisses , ColoRouge , Red Hawk , Barick Obama
Cantal cheese. Photo by J. Meier
Natural rinds form with the least amount of intervention. In the temperature and humidity controlled rooms where cheeses are aged, air naturally dries out the outside of cheese. Over time, this forms a thin crust on the outside of the cheese which becomes its rind. Cheesemakers monitor this process and sometimes rub the rind with oil as it forms.
Examples of natural rinds :Stilton, Montgomery Cheddar, Tomme de Savoie, Cantal, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Tumalo Tomme