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Frequently asked questions
Edible rinds: a matter of taste
If the delicate art of cheese cutting requires not leaving just the rind for the other guests, that’s no reason to eat it all: most rinds are edible and endowed with an intense flavour that some gourmets would not leave behind for anything in the world. Soft cheese with a bloomy (camembert, brie, coulommiers, chaource, saint-marcellin, etc.) or washed rind (munster, epoisses, curé nantais, maroilles …), blue cheeses and some uncooked pressed cheeses with a soft rind (e.g. raclette) can be enjoyed with their rind, unless you don’t like it !
Inedible rinds: to be disgarded or recycled
On the other hand, some uncooked pressed cheeses are covered with a thin layer of wax or paraffin (edam, mimolette, gouda …) which is not edible and can be thrown away without any qualms. Others are fit for consumption but too hard to eat as they are: this is the case of cooked pressed cheeses and more generally very large format pressed cheeses.
The colours are provided by natural micro-organisms, as well as using colouring, charcoal or even wax for some.
For many cheeses, the rinds take on a natural colour during ripening thanks to useful microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, moulds) that develop spontaneously. This is for example the case of hard cheese or cooked pressed cheese (comté, abondance, beaufort, etc.), traditionally made in the mountains and characterised by a dry rind in tones of beige, brown or grey, etc.
For other cheeses, the colour of the rind is also linked to the presence of microorganisms, but this time it is the human hand that determines the appearance of the product.
This packaging has three main functions: to protect, preserve and inform.
In France, many artisan cheeses are still made with raw milk, whose flavour is closely linked to the food ration of the cows. In the spring, they graze in the open air on rich and varied grass supplemented by wild flowers. At the end of the summer, with the return of the rain, they feast on lush grass. During the cold season, on the other hand, the cows eat mainly hay, supplements and sometimes silage.
Raw milk does not therefore have the same taste all year long.
The production season does not necessarily coincide with the tasting season: ripening plays a major role in the cheese-making process. However, its duration varies according to the cheese family: two to three weeks for soft cheese with bloomy rind and goat cheeses, about a month for soft washed rind cheeses and several months or even years for pressed cheeses.
Moreover, the technical progress of the last decades – better monitoring of the feed of the herds, control of the fermenting agents and the ripening, etc.. – have helped to ensure greater consistency in the quality and the flavours.
Even when the differences remain marked, a cheese made in summer is not necessarily better than a cheese made in winter. Take comté for example, when made in summer, it has an intense yellow paste that gives off various fruity aromas; the lighter coloured winter comté is characterised by hay aromas.
Finally, we must not forget that most cheeses are made with pasteurised and standardised milks meaning customers can enjoy most of their favourite products all year round.
Fermier cheese is a product “made using traditional techniques, by an agricultural producer processing only the milk from their own farm on the farm”. In other words, it means that:
- The cheese is made by the farmer on the farm where the milk is produced.
- This milk comes from the herd raised on the farm.
For artisanal cheese : it is not the farmer who produces the cheese, but a craftsman who processes milk from nearby farms in a structure that remains small.
Laitier cheese is made with milk from several farms which is collected and processed in a dairy.
Cheeses with semi-firm paste
Kept in their original packaging, they are stored in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. As for cut pieces, they can be kept from one week to one month depending on the cheese, provided they are well wrapped.
They keep very well up to 1 month if they are well wrapped. They thus continue to mature and develop more pronounced flavours.
Blue veined cheese
They are most likely to be preserved when wrapped in a damp cloth, then placed in an airtight plastic container.
It is not always advisable to freeze cheese because this may alter its texture. However, freezing has little effect on the flavour and does not generally change the properties of cheeses used for cooking.
This is particularly the case for firm cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss or Emmental which, once grated, keeps well in the freezer.
To freeze cheese properly, wrap it in a sheet of aluminium foil and place it in a freezer bag after removing the air.
The secret to good preservation lies above all in the packaging.
Whole cheeses should be kept in their original packaging.
All others would benefit from being wrapped in wax paper lined with foil.
Cut pieces of cheese purchased covered in plastic should be wrapped as soon as possible in waxed paper.
Avoid plastic packaging that prevents the cheese from breathing which degrades the rind or paste.
Firm cheeses can be kept wrapped in a sheet of aluminium foil. Of course, the rind of the cheese should not be removed since it acts as a protective layer to preserve the aroma of the paste. It also adds to the pleasure of the eyes and is edible in most cases.
When properly wrapped, your cheese can be placed in an airtight plastic container.
In this way, they are protected from shocks and pressure and the smell of other foods or other cheeses.
You can also group several cheeses in the same container provided that they are of the same type.
It is called the “pastille de caséine”.
It is like the identity card of the cheese. It allows us to identify, among other things, the place and date of production of the cheese and the type of milk used.
If the plaque is green and oval it is a raw milk cheese, red and square cheese will be pasteurised (this is the case for the Saint-Nectaire).
If the plaque is red, it is a pasteurised milk cheese. This plaque guarantees precise traceability, and total control of the product.
This coloured plaque is made of casein, a natural component of milk so it is entirely edible!