What’s in a Rind?

The rind is the outer surface of ripened cheese. During the ripening stage of the cheese-making process, temperature and humidity affect the growth of certain bacteria and enzymes that physically and chemically alter the cheese. Adjustments in humidity, temperature, and the length of time the cheese ripens result in cheeses with different flavors, appearances, and textures.

Cheeses can be categorized as internally ripened and surface ripened. Internally ripened cheeses are covered with a protective substance, such as brine or wax.  Some well-known internally ripened cheeses include Gouda, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Manchego. You might recognize them by their harder outer surface.

Surface ripened cheeses can be covered with bacteria or other microorganisms, or be set in an environment which will exhibit growth of microorganisms. These microorganisms react with the cheese and impart the cheese with a particular flavor and texture.  Surface-ripened cheeses can have a bloomy rind or a washed rind. Cheeses with bloomy rinds, such as Brie and Camembert, have a white outer surface. Cheeses with washed rinds, such as Rougette Bavarian Red, typically have an orangish color and are slightly more pungent.