Breaking News: Most Cheese Rinds Are Perfectly Safe to Eat
Is there any savory food that is not made better by adding cheese? No. No there is not. But are all cheese parts created equal? Or put another way, what do you do with the part of the cheese that is often deemed inedible, the rind?
According to cheese maker Stefanie Angstadt, cheese rinds are perfectly fine to eat. “For the majority of artisanal cheeses, the rind is naturally occurring,” says Angstadt. “It is a mix of molds and yeasts that grow on the surface of the cheese when it is fresh.” The mix thickens and hardens as the cheese ages, which helps develop flavors and soften the paste (or interior portion of the cheese). This then acts as a barrier between the body of the cheese and the outside environment, thus protecting the cheese from spoilage. This is why a well-aged cheese can go bad quickly after being sliced into.
There are, however, a few exceptions. Specifically, certain types of Gouda, cheddar and Manchego that are aged with a coated waxed rind, which is completely inedible. If you come across any of these, it's best to eat around the rind.
While most artisanal cheese rinds are certainly edible, they can be fairly thick and tough and are also at times very concentrated in flavor. As such, it’s wise to try the inside of the cheese first before sampling the rind as the rind from certain cheeses can overwhelm your taste buds. In formal cheese tastings, this is the suggested order of operations.