Why You Shouldn't Throw Out the Parmesan Cheese Rind
As with many things, the best part is at the very end.
If you are a serious cook, you buy your Parmesan cheese by the wedge instead of the shaker bottle filled with the grated stuff (yes, this is real Parmesan, but it also contains cellulose powder to prevent caking and potassium sorbate to protect flavor). If stored properly (more on that below), a hunk of fresh Parmesan can be used with a number of pasta dishes, main dish salads, and hearty stews. When there is nothing left but the rind of the cheese don't throw it out, because therein lies the deepest Parmesan flavor of all.
What Exactly is the Rind?
A Parmesan rind is the protective covering that develops along the outside of the cheese, similar to the crust on bread. Aslong as the cheese coating is natural, such as on Parmesan, Asiago, or Brie, it is safe to consume, but you certainly don't want to eat the manmade waxy coverings found on some other cheeses.
What to do With a Rind
Keep your cheese rinds in resealable plastic bags in the refrigerator. The next time you are making a stew, sauce, or pasta dinner, toss a rind in at the simmering stage. The rind will soften as it cooks, and the flavors of the cheese will permeate throughout the dish. If the rind has not completely melted by the time you're ready to serve, just use a spoon to remove the remaining pieces.
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How To Store Fresh Parmesan
To keep Parmesan fresh, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator. If the cheese has been exposed to air it may start to turn white. If this happens, wrap the cheese in a dampened cheesecloth, then wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight. When you remove the cloth the next day, the cheese should be fresh again and ready for use. Rewrap in a new piece of plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.