Should You Eat the Rind on Cheese?

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iStock

To eat the rind or not eat the rind, that is the question everyone wonders before diving into a sumptuous cheese plate. The rind is the outside layer that is part of the cheese’s aging process. It’s sort of like the crust on bread—it’s part of the cheese so you can in fact, and absolutely should (depending how adventurous your palate is), eat it. Well, that is unless of course the rind is made out of wax, bark, or cheesecloth. Yuck.

The rind is where the ripening starts, which is why a cheese’s most complex and often most pungent tastes (and smells) live there.

There are four major kinds of edible rinds: bloomy, washed, natural, and dry. Within each of these categories are oodles of fascinating subcategories. The rind can tell you the story of how the cheese was made and a great deal about the flavor profile before you even bite into it.

Bloomy Rinds

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These are the soft, sometimes fuzzy rinds that grow on the outside of familiar cheeses like Brie and Bucheron. Cheesemakers add a solution of bacteria, like Penicillium candidum, to the outside of the cheese which causes mold to then bloom and grow until it hardens all around the cheese. The bacteria breaks down the fat and gives the cheese a beautiful creamy texture. Depending on the type of milk, you may get notes that are buttery and Chardonnay-like (cow), tangy and peppery (goat), or citric and sweet (sheep).

Bloomy rinds are some of the most approachable rinds out there...even if they can sometimes look a little funky. The fuzz is totally fine so long as it’s not yellow, orange, red, or dark blue/black. If it gives off a strong ammonia-like smell, then step away from the cheese. If the rind looks like a brain...eat it. That’s just the Geotrichum fungus doing its job, and it’s delicious. Mmmm...braaaaaains. Or rather, mmmmm…Chabichou.

Washed Rind

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These bad boys are exactly what they sound like...cheese that’s been washed. The affineur (cheese master who works on the ripening process) bathes the cheese in a solution that ages and forms the thick orange skin and it results in a strong, meaty flavor. The solution varies and depends on what kind of flavor the cheesemaker is going for. Classics like Taleggio and Limburger are washed in a simple saline brine and though their smell is quite strong on the outside, their inner texture and taste is often smooth. Usually the longer they sit, the funkier they get (hello, Epoisse). Many artisan cheesemakers go wild with washed rinds and can lovingly cover their cheese with wine or beer. Now that’s a rind worth tasting.

Natural Rinds

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These are the rinds that grow with much less human interaction than bloomy or washed rinds. These kinds can be sharp and firm (Cabot’s Clothbound Cheddar) or creamy and crumbly (Gorwydd Caerphilly, Stilton). Their rind is formed simply by the natural process of aging and depends on the humidity and temperature of the cave in which they’re sitting. Air and a little bit of moisture often do the trick, though sometimes cheesecloth or leaves are wrapped around the wheel and mold tends to grow there—remove those before eating! These rinds are dry, earthy, and surprisingly complex.

Dry Rinds

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Hello Parmigiano Reggiano, my old friend. These firm, natural rinds are meant to keep mold out and simply let the cheese age into its hard, sharp perfection. These rinds aren’t the most palatable, but they make great additions to soup stock, stews, or slow-cooked pasta sauces to add some creaminess.

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

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iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to HuffPost, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

The Reason You Should Never Rinse a Turkey

jax10289/iStock via Getty Images
jax10289/iStock via Getty Images

There are many misconceptions surrounding your Thanksgiving turkey, but none is more dangerous than the turkey-washing myth. Raw poultry can contain dangerous microbes like Salmonella, and it's not uncommon for home cooks to rinse their meat under cool water in an effort to wash away these pathogens. The intention may be admirable, but this is a worse turkey sin than overcooking your bird or carving it before letting it rest. According to AOL, rinsing a raw turkey with water is more likely to make you and your dinner guests sick than not cleaning it at all.

When you wash a turkey in the sink, there's no guarantee that all of the nasty stuff on the outside of it is going down the drain. In fact, the only thing rinsing does is spread potentially harmful microbes around. In addition to getting bacteria on you hands and clothes, rinsing can contaminate countertops, sink handles, and even the surrounding air.

There are three main ways to lower your chances of contracting Salmonella when dealing with raw turkey: Thaw your bird in the fridge, minimize contact with it before it goes into the oven, and give it plenty of time to cook once it's in there. For the second part, that means setting aside time to pat your turkey dry, remove the excess fat and skin, and season it without handling anything else. To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, wash your hands frequently and wash the plates, knives, and other tools that touched the turkey before using them again. You should also cook your stuffing outside the turkey rather than shoving it inside the cavity and creating a Salmonella bomb.

Once the safety aspect is taken care of, you can focus on making your turkey taste as delicious as possible. Here are some tips from professional chefs on making your starring dish shine this Thanksgiving.

[h/t AOL]

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