Cheese Rinds

What's up with cheese rinds?

Picture this: you're slicing a bit of brie or a chunk of cheddar on a fruit and cheese board at a dinner party. As you start to taste your cheesy treasure, you notice there's a bit of rind on the cheese. The first question is: do you eat the cheese rind or leave it on the plate? Second question: what the heck are cheese rinds, anyway? And why do some of them look moldy, while others stink to high heaven?

The good news is that any rind that is the natural result of cheesemaking isn't going to hurt you. Some of them are delicious, while others are best while others are best left on the plate.

In Wisconsin, we always eat the cheese rinds because we are really into cheese. We love how the rind can add another layer of flavor to the cheese-tasting experience, and how it reveals what the cheesemakers were trying to accomplish, flavor-wise. Of course, that kind of devotion to cheese is just what you'd expect from a place where everybody is focused on doing one thing better than anywhere else: making the tastiest, highest-quality, most award-winning cheese in the universe.

Check out our website to meet some of our famous cheeses – with and without rinds. Search our index for inspiration for a new recipe for mac and cheese, potatoes au gratin, or cheddar-broccoli soup. Or scroll down to learn more about the different kinds of cheese rinds, where they come from, and what they may add to your cheese experience.

The real deal on rinds

There are three types of cheese rinds – not including the rinds like wax, paper, or bark that are used to wrap and protect the cheese.

Natural rinds are the crusts that form over time on the outside of varieties like cheddar and parmesan as the cheese is exposed to air. You can eat a natural rind, but it will likely have a bitter taste and won't be that pleasant to chew.

Bloomy rinds are the soft, white, and sometimes furry exteriors on bloomy cheeses like brie or camembert. These rinds are the result of edible mold spores such as Penicillium glaucum, candidum, or camemberti that are sprayed on the exterior of cheeses to encourage mold to grow outside and the cheese inside to ripen. Bloomy rinds are almost always worth eating and tend to have a woodsy, mushroomy taste.

Washed rinds develop on stinky cheeses like limburger and brick as well as the best gruyère cheeses and fontina cheeses. These varieties are washed repeatedly with a salty brine or alcohol during the aging process to encourage molds like B. linens to grow. Washed rinds tend to be reddish or orange in color, and are likely to be quite stinky. These rinds are also edible, though they may be quite salty.

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FAQs: What are cheese rinds?

What are cheese rinds?

Cheese rinds are the outside layer that forms on certain cheeses during the cheese aging process. Most rinds that form naturally on a cheese are edible, though not all will be very tasty.

Why do some cheeses not have a rind?

Because rinds are a product of the cheese aging process, fresh cheeses and other cheeses that aren't allowed to age do not have rinds. Cheeses like feta that are continually submerged in brine are also rindless.

How is feta cheese made?

Feta cheese is made by cutting the coagulated curd into small blocks which are salted and dried for a few days, then submerged in a salty brine for several weeks or months. When the cheese is ready for consumption, it is shipped in plastic containers, still in its brine, so it never has a chance to develop a rind.

How is parmesan cheese made?

Parmesan cheese starts off like every other cheese, with bacteria culture and rennet added to milk. After the rennet enzymes in cheese cause the solid curd to separate from the liquid whey, the curd is cut up into very small pieces to allow more moisture to escape. It's then strained through muslin, pressed into large molds, and immersed in brine for several weeks to absorb the salt. Large wheels of parmesan are then aged for 12 to 36 months, during which the cheese develops its natural rind.

Why Wisconsin is rah-rah for cheese rinds

Most people don't give cheese rinds a second thought, let alone get excited over the crusty exterior of a chunk of cheese. In Wisconsin, cheese rinds get us positively giddy. We know that within every rind is a masterpiece of milky goodness made right here in the State of Cheese that's waiting to be sliced or smeared and eagerly consumed. We love the taste and texture that rinds bring to the whole cheese-tasting experience, and we're not about to let any morsel of a Wisconsin cheese go to waste.

Of course, you'd expect no less from a place where everybody dreams in cheese, or from a place that's won more awards for cheese than any other state or country in the world. So, next time you're on the fence about whether to sample a cheese rind or not, just know that if the cheese was made in Wisconsin, the rind is definitely something to get excited about.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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