Cheese is a world of wonder, a symphony of flavours and textures that captivate our taste buds. While most of us indulge in the creamy centres of our favourite cheeses, we often neglect their outer layer—the rind. But let me tell you, dear cheese connoisseurs, there’s a whole universe of flavours waiting to be discovered in those beautiful, edible rinds. Join me on this delightful journey as we explore the art of eating cheese rinds and uncover the secrets behind their creation.
Cheese Making: A Magical Process:
Before we dive into the enchanting world of rinds, let’s take a moment to appreciate the art of cheese making. Cheese is created by coagulating milk, usually with the help of rennet or specific bacteria cultures. Different types of cheese undergo unique processes, resulting in their distinct textures, flavours, and, of course, rinds.
Rind Magic: Bacteria, Enzymes, and Fungi:
The rind is formed during the ageing process when bacteria, enzymes, and fungi work their magic. One such remarkable fungus is Geotrichum, which contributes to the creation of bloomy rinds found in Brie and Camembert. This natural mould develops a soft, velvety rind that adds an earthy dimension to the cheese’s taste.
Other bacteria, like those found in washed-rind cheeses such as Limburger or Taleggio, introduce pungent, funky flavours. As the cheese ages, it is regularly washed with brine, encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria and lending a distinct aroma to the rind.
Flavours to Savour: The Rind’s Role in the Tasting Experience:
Now, let’s talk about the real reason why we should embrace cheese rinds—their contribution to the overall tasting experience. Just as the interior of the cheese delights us with its flavours, the rind offers a whole new world of tastes and textures. By eating the rind, we allow our palates to explore the nuances and complexities that make each cheese unique.
From the bloomy, delicate rinds of Camembert and Brie, offering a creamy, slightly tangy flavour, to the washed rinds with their robust, often meaty profiles, every rind has something special to offer. Eating the rind completes the cheese experience, allowing us to appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry that went into its creation.
Artisan Cheeses with Diverse Rinds:
Now, let’s embark on a flavourful journey and explore some artisan cheeses with distinct rinds, both from British and European traditions:
Stilton (British): This renowned blue cheese features a natural, crumbly rind that adds complexity to its rich, tangy, and slightly sweet flavours.
Camembert (French): Its bloomy, white rind develops a soft, creamy texture and imparts a delicate mushroom-like taste that beautifully complements the gooey centre. Gruyère (Swiss): This firm cheese boasts a hard, brown rind that offers a nutty, slightly sweet flavour, enhancing the rich and creamy interior. Taleggio (Italian): With its orange washed rind, Taleggio exhibits a pungent aroma and a deliciously meaty taste that is best experienced by devouring the entire cheese, rind included.
A Note of Caution: Rinds to Avoid:
While most artisan cheese rinds are edible and add to the overall enjoyment, there are a few exceptions. Some cheeses, like wax-coated Gouda or cheeses wrapped in cloth, have rinds that are not meant to be consumed. These rinds act as protective layers
P.s. You can explore lots of different rinds with our exclusively Cheese hamper below, The Elsa :