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Cheese rinds, munch or toss out?

Surely you've asked this question whilst eating funky cheeses with friends. "Are we supposed to eat the rind or not?" Unless you're surrounded by a bunch of cheese nerds, the answers will be varied and not necessarily based on knowledge.

Even when it comes to the mild rind of a brie cheese I’ve come across a few friends who carefully carve their way around the snowy white velvety outer layer to get to the good stuff inside, while others almost worship the rind. And as the exteriors get more and more robust, even the rind lovers appear to slowly lose their enthusiasm for the flavour of mould and taste of time.

So how do you really know if you should munch or toss out the rind? Personally I feel it depends on if you like the way it tastes. For example the brie I’ve just mentioned, is encased by a rind of penicillium bacteria, which gives a soft, tender rind that tastes a bit like mushrooms. If you skip the rind on one of these carefully aged cheese in my opinion you'll be missing on the best part. Other rinds however, are not as palatable. Some rinds are dusty grey and brown, and you probably won't like the unpleasant way it tastes or its cardboard-like texture. Still these rinds are perfectly safe to eat, so if they are up your alley and you like the flavour, as well as the act of digging gunk out of your molars, by all means, munch!

There are of course a few rinds you should never eat. Cloth, paper and wax materials aren't poisonous, but they aren't food or even a true rind. Some people use the rinds to enhance their soup or broth but you certainly don’t want to use the waxy exteriors of Gouda and Edam. Yet, remember that while not appetising for most, the material these are still food grade wax, and eating it is not dangerous in any way. The point re-enforces the notion that the best way to determine whether or not you should eat a rind is simply to taste it.

Although taste is subjective I’m tempted to see if I can come up with a sample list of cheese rind everybody should definitely eat enthusiastically, rinds you should eat enthusiastically if you personally enjoy, and rinds to toss out.

First, let's look at the good - The fine white layer on this triple cream French brie adds a delicate flavour of mushrooms to the cheese. Whilst the texture of the rind may detract from the delicate creamy centre it has a nice flavour. Bottom line: Taste it. If you enjoy the flavour

Skip the rind on a Taleggio, which is considered by many as the gateway cheese to stinky cheeses, and you'll miss the whole point of washed rinds. If you're not enjoying this rind, you may want to start shopping in different section of the cheese counter. Highly recommended.

If you take home a ball of Boursault eating the rind is almost mandatory. It would be almost