Should You Eat the Rind on Cheese?

iStock
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

iStock

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

iStock

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

iStock

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

iStock

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.

The Disputed Origins of Publix’s Chicken Tender Subs

Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After Popeyes released its new chicken sandwich last week, a heated battle broke out on Twitter over which fast food chain offers the best one. Favorites included Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and KFC, but the Publix chicken tender sub was mostly absent from the dialogue. Maybe it’s because Publix is a supermarket rather than a fast food restaurant, or maybe the southern chain is too specific to Florida and its neighboring states to warrant a national ranking.

Either way, the chicken tender sub is a cult culinary classic among Publix customers—there’s even an independently run website devoted to announcing when the subs are on sale (they aren’t right now), and affiliated Facebook and Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers. So whom do sub devotees have to thank for inventing the Publix food mashup from heaven? A Facebook user named Dave Charls says, “Me!,” but Publix begs to differ.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in May of this year, a man named Dave Charls posted a message on the “Are Publix Chicken Tender Subs On Sale?” Facebook page recounting his origin story for the menu item, which allegedly took place in 1997 or 1998. At Charls explains it, he and his co-worker Kevin convinced their friend Philip, a deli worker at the Fleming Island Publix location, to assemble a sub with chicken tenders and ring it up as one item—something that deli workers had refused to do for Dave and Kevin in the past. According to Dave, Philip then convinced his manager to make it a special, publicized it via chalkboard sign, and the idea spread like hot sauce.

“You’re welcome,” Charls said. “It was actually Kevin’s idea and Philip brought it to life.”

Publix, however, told the Tampa Bay Times that its recorded documentation for a chicken tender sub recipe and procedure goes all the way back to 1992 or 1993. Based on that information, Publix spokesperson Brian West confirmed that Charls's heroic account of the origin is more fairytale than fact (though West, unfortunately, doesn’t have an equally thrilling origin story—or any story at all—with which to replace it).

Charls didn’t respond to a request from the Tampa Bay Times for comment, so we may never know how much of his claim is actually true. It’s possible, of course, that Publix’s 1992 (or 1993) chicken tender sub recipe hadn’t gained momentum by the time Kevin’s moment of culinary genius struck in 1997 (or 1998), and the lack of date specificity suggests that neither party knows exactly how it went down. What is incontrovertible, however, is the deliciousness of Publix's beloved sub sandwich.

"I'm just happy to live in the same timeline as this beautiful sandwich," says die-hard Pub Sub fan (and Mental Floss video producer/editor) Justin Dodd. “Copyright claims aside, it's truly a wonderful thing."

This London Pub Might Be the Most Ethical Bar in the World

Ridofranz/Getty Images
Ridofranz/Getty Images

Pub owner Randy Rampersad is doing his part for sustainability. In June, he opened the Green Vic—a play on the fictional Queen Vic pub in the soap opera EastEnders—in the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch. The Telegraph reports it’s aiming to be the world’s most ethical pub: Rampersad eschews plastic and paper straws and opts for gluten-free wheat “straws.” He sources the bar's 100 percent recycled toilet paper from green-minded company Who Gives a Crap, and the communal wooden tables are upcycled.

“I wanted to make the world a better place and run my own business, but I was waiting for that eureka moment,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. He discovered no one had done anything like this before.

There’s no meat on the menu—the food is totally vegan, healthy-ish pub grub. You can add CBD oil to the “chkn" bites appetizer, and the burgers are made from ingredients like soy, seaweed, and sweet potato. The beers are produced by ethical brewers, too: Toast Ale uses unsold loaves and crusts of bread; Good Things Brewing crafts its beer from 100 percent renewable energy; South Africa’s Afro Vegan Cider donates money to an organization that funds equal pay for female farmers; and Brewgooder donates to water projects.

In fact, everything the Green Vic does has charity in mind. “We don't care about the money, I’m planet first and profit after,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. Up to 80 percent of its profits will go to charitable causes, including local food banks. As for the staff, one in four are from marginalized groups. The Green Vic plans to operate as a three-month pop-up pub while scouting for longer term investment.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER