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.