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Cheese 101

Cheese rinds: It's what's on the outside that matters!


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One of the most common questions Sara Arbabian, co-owner of The Rind (a cheese-centric eatery in Midtown Sacramento) gets is, "Can I eat the rind?" In short, the answer is yes!

Rinds are the outside shell on cheese that forms during the cheesemaking process. They give the cheese shape, structure and flavor, and they're pretty much edible, says Sara, unless they're made from wax, cheesecloth or paper. (Do not eat those!) She adds there are basically three types of rinds: bloomy, washed and natural.

Bloomy rind cheeses, such as Brie, have a rind made of some combination of mold, yeast or yeast-like fungus that blooms like a flower on the exterior of a ripening cheese. This live rind breaks down the fats and proteins of a cheese, causing the texture to become creamy over time.

Washed cheeses are often immersed in a saltwater brine or something like that to cultivate bacteria that will activate the flavoring process in the cheese. They often have an orange hue and are sometimes known as the "stinky cheeses."

Natural rind cheeses are just that—the rind has most likely formed by the aging of a cheese, in which case the exterior has dried out and a natural crust or rind has formed (think Parmigiano-Reggiano).

When in doubt, just ask your local cheese expert!

For more information about The Rind, visit http://therindsacramento.com.


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