What is Cheese Rind?
A cheese rind is actually a very useful part of a wheel of cheese. As the outer layer of the cheese, the rind typically begins to develop into a harder exterior crust that helps to hold in the moisture and flavor of the remainder of the cheese. While it is harder than the remainder of the wheel, it is still usually easily cut with a cheese knife or any sharp object.
The rind of a piece of cheese is typically not considered to be particularly good for eating. Part of the issue is that the outer edges are much dryer than the interior sections. In addition, as the cheese rind develops and toughens, it also loses some of the flavor inherent in the cheese. Many people do not think in terms of doing anything with the rind other than removing it and tossing it away.
A cheese rind actually can be a great addition to various recipes, however. By taking the time to cut it into sections and allow it to finish drying, the rind can easily be ground into fine particles that can easily be used as a way to add extra seasoning to different types of dishes. For example, it can be sprinkled into hot soups, giving them a slight hint of cheese flavor. Sprinkling the ground sections onto the tops of casseroles or as an extra topping along with French fried onions can add an unexpected bit of zip to the dish. As a way to season dried beans during the slow cooking process, it will help bring out the natural flavor of the beans, requiring less in the way of seasonings with meat drippings.
Storing the hardened rind is not difficult. The easiest way is to take the sections, cut them into manageable sized pieces, and slip them into an airtight bag. If a cook does not plan on using them quickly, the rind can be stored in the freezer for later. An alternative is to allow the cheese rind to completely dry and then process the pieces in a hand chopper or, for a finer texture, using a food processor to get as close to a powder consistency as possible. The powder can also be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator or freezer. It will be ready for use at any time, and will stay fresh for several months.
People should also note that the rinds of smoked cheese are not only fresher and moister then many other cheese rinds, but smoked cheese rinds are jam packed with the smoke flavor that the cheese was smoked with. Throwing out smoked Gouda rind is a sin in my books. Use of the cheese alone will have a slight smokiness, but there are times I wish it had the smokiness of the rind all the way through since it is much more pronounced.
This is a good idea. I've been trying out making different cheese types and I usually don't keep the rind if there is one. But, I'm trying to be self sufficient so conservation of food is a big part of that.
Usually I would give the rind to my pigs, but if there is another way to get some flavor into my food I am definitely going to try it.
I think this would also be a good tip for vegetarians who are looking to get a little more protein and calcium into their diets. Every bit counts, after all, even cheese rind sprinkles.
This is such a good idea. I've bought home cheese with a thick rind before and never thought of drying it and using it as a seasoning. I always felt a bit guilty throwing it out, too, because it seemed like such a waste.
Parmesan is a hard and crumbly cheese that I really enjoy but it is quite expensive and I think this could make a reasonable substitute.
Next time I think I will just chop it up very finely and put it in a salt shaker to use on my meals.
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