Natural packaging – the cheese rind

Having googled cheese rinds it seems there is very little information out there on them.  It is a fascinating and varied aspect of cheesemaking.  The microbiome of bacteria growing on the outside of cheese is a study on its own. And how you present your cheese can make all the difference to your sales.

Rinds vary from the white mould on Camembert, the washed rind of  Pont l’Eveque and Reblochon ( the stinky cheeses),  the natural rinds of Gouda and Sardo, rinds encrusted with herbs, rinds painted with olive oil, plaited rinds, embossed rinds and more.

I am going to start with just the smooth gouda rind for a start.

The great thing about most hard cheeses is that they form their own packaging, namely their rind. In other words, there is no need to buy packaging for cheeses such as our popular gouda. Roughly one-third of municipal waste is comprised of discarded packaging.  We are all aware of how packaging finds its way into the stomachs of whales and fish.   So this is a serious plus for cost and the environment.

When making a gouda, the curds are traditionally pressed in a round mould with a lining of cheese cloth or a commercial net ( available from Finest Kind) to close the cheese and form the rind. After pressing, the cheese is brined. The salt helps harden the rind.  Customers don’t like a rind that is too thick. To avoid this, make sure to keep the cheese warm while pressing and press with half the weight for the first two hours and then with full weight for the second two hours. The weights used to press must not be too heavy either.

While maturing the rind becomes a beautiful yellow colour unless of course, one has nasty blue, pink or black moulds growing on the rind. To avoid this, scrub the cheese with Finest Kind orange gel, a product made from orange peels, with a nail brush as soon as the first bit of mould appears and regularly thereafter. We sell a cheese mat to place under the cheese on the wooden shelves so that air can flow through and under the cheese avoiding it from becoming sticky and mouldy. The cold room must be at the right temperature,  12°C, and a humidity of 85-90% for a good rind.

Now you are ready to sell your cheese, just as is, in its own packaging.

If you really have to, you can paint the cheese with Finest Kind cheese coating. It contains an anti-fungal called natamycin.  When the paint loses its shine, give the cheese another coat. You can place a label on the cheese and paint over it. The paint does still allow the cheese to breathe, an important aspect in maturation. If you wax or vacuum pack cheese you will not get nearly as aromatic and flavour filled cheese.

Happy Cheesemaking!