Should I Eat the Cheese Rind?

“Can I – or should I – eat the rind of my cheese?”  

Great question. And absolutely you can. Of course, it totally depends on preference.

It’s always easiest – and tastiest – to try the white fuzzy rind of a “bloomy rind” cheese like Brie or Camembert.  That’s natural. And believe it or not, that white matted exterior is actually the flower of the mold that helped create your cheese. I happen to love it. But, if you don’t like it, scoop out the interior and leave the rind behind.

The brownish orange of a stinky “washed-rind” is also edible. Go for it.

When it gets to the hard cheeses, it gets a bit more difficult. They can be tough to chew and very hard.  A cheese like parmesan, which has aged for a longtime, can be impossible to eat. But keep those rinds. Don’t throw them away. Toss them in a soup (or freeze them in a ziplock bag for future broths).

Some rinds are just plain tasteless. They may taste like cardboard, or be dusty. Feel free to dislike and discard.

But no rind will make you sick.

There is only one rind that you should avoid. It’s the wax rind of the Gouda and Edam, often glossy and colored red, used to protect the cheese. That’s wax, people! Do not eat it!

Next blog: How to Store Cheese.

 

 

 

 

More to Monterey Than Jack

Schoch Family Farmstead Cow Herd

Guest Blog by Jenny Holt, Freelance Writer

More to Monterey Than Jack

When I was a child, my mom always told me not to eat any cheese before going to bed. She insisted that it would give me nightmares. But now that I am an adult and have eaten a lot of cheese, often with a glass of red wine, I can tell you the worst thing you will experience is a little indigestion. 

The friars of Monterey made their cheese back when the area was part of the Spanish Empire and then Mexico. But go a little ways north to between Watsonville and Salinas and you can brew a nice set of nightmares. There are a ton of haunted places and hikes across California as well as a full make-your-own cheese trail on CheeseTrail.org.

Follow the Cheese
First, the important bit – the cheese. The Watsonville-Salinas area has two great cheesemakers. First, you have the Schoch Family Farmstead on El Camino Real near Salinas. First farmed in 1944, the Schoch Brothers’ descendants still run the farm and is only 1 of 2 dairy farmers in Monterey County. They produce some excellent Monterey Jack, Mt. Toro Tomme, East of Edam, Junipero and Gabilan artisan cheeses which you can pick up at local stores and farmers market.

Just north of Wastsonville you have Garden Variety Cheese based at the Monkeyflower Ranch over on San Miguel Canyon Road, which specializes in dairy sheep cheese. Their products include fresh cheeses, aged cheeses, and yogurts such as Sweet Alyssum spreadable cheese, ricotta, Moonflower, and Black-Eyed Susan. They have a once a year open house with farm tour and BBQ.

And then Follow the Spooks
Start in Monterey, as it’s California’s original capital, and home to a fascinating combination of wrecked ships, exploring Spaniards, frontiersmen and strange goings-on. To maximize your chances of a scare, check out Gary Munsinger’s Ghost Trolly Tour on Wednesday and Saturday nights, or head over to sites such as Restaurant 1833, home to a fake doctor from England who had a stunningly high mortality rate including a Mexican Governor, before he committed suicide and his wife died upstairs. You can also find ghosts in the Monterey Hotel, Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Robert Louis Stevenson House and many other places about town.

However, if you want to stay closer to the Watsonville area, the Old Stage Road east of Salinas is said to be haunted and could be a good hiking spot. Further north there are haunted places such as the Veteran’s Memorial Building, which is said to be haunted by a little boy, and the Dusty Treasures Antiques and Collectibles housed in an 1899 mansion with a fine array of haunted antique objects, ghostly voices, footsteps, and slamming doors. Want to stay somewhere haunted for the night? Why not try the Bayview Hotel Bed and Breakfast in Aptos, which is said to be haunted by its former owners who died in a car crash.

Win a Stay at the Farm

Win a stay for you and 7 other friends at the Straus Home Ranch in Marin County on Tomales Bay, right in the heart of cheese country.  The historic farmhouse (where I  happened to have grown up) is on a 166-acre working organic farm. It’s surrounded by eucalyptus and cypress trees and is a 30-second walk from the beach.  Straus Home Ranch Ryan Grae 90

While staying at the farm, you can take the Marin County Driving Tour, visiting Nicasio Valley Cheese, Marin French Cheese Company, and Cowgirl Creamery.  Plan ahead, and you can take either a scheduled or private tour at Tomales Farmstead’s Toluma Farm or picnic with the water buffalo at Ramini Mozzarella.

All of these cheesemakers are within a short drive of the farm.

Straus Home Ranch barn-resizedThe raffle will be held on Sunday, October 30th.  Tickets are limited, and cost $5 for one and $20 for five. As of now, whew, your chances of winning are really great!

Second prize is a basket of local artisanal food products (including cheese, of course).

The raffle supports the Cheese Trail  – a nonprofit project that helps promote and support California cheesemakers, and by extension, small farms, and the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, which has, to date, permanently protected nearly half the agricultural land in Marin County.

California is lucky to boast approximately 70 cheesemakers of all types.  Most do not have a budget to promote themselves and count on the Cheese Trail project to send them visitors, and customers, while letting the world know about their spectacularly made cheeses.

 

 

Golden Goats

Feta 300 x 400“Want to take a picture of my ass?” Charley of Jollity Farm asked me. Sweet, reserved, Charley. I’m smiling, but I’m not getting it. Turns out Charley is pretty darn funny.  Because then he showed me his donkey, “Otie.”  Get it? Don Quixote. Donkey Otie.  Yeah. I’m slow.

IMG_7610Charley bought 13 acres – his “Shangri-La” – in 2006, in Gold Country. His place is just a few short miles from the original Sutter’s Mill where gold was first discovered, and the American River, where hoards of fun-lovers come to raft and fish. (half an hour from Hwy 50 or 80 as you make your way to Reno or Tahoe).

The property, located on a gloriously wooded mountain, is covered with oak trees and manzanita. Of all the goat farms I’ve seen in California, this one is truly a goat’s Shangri-La. Goats prefer scrub and brush over pasture. They love the oak leaves and branches, the bark on Manzanita (which regenerates), and even the invasive Scotch Broom. The slightly dried green oak leaves on the ground are their “potato chips” and the acorns are their candy. They’ll scramble to find them amongst fallen leaves.IMG_7573

Charley took this treed property, with its own abandoned gold mine, and built the barn, the milking parlor and the creamery. He has about 40 goats, which include his original Alpine. His fiancée MaryLisa – whose exuberance and graciousness bowled me over – recently brought over her award-winning herd of Miniature Nubian, which has increased the butterfat and adds a creamy element to the cheese.

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Charley makes chèvre and feta, and starting mid summer, an aged cheese that becomes wondrously nutty due to the acorns the goats eat.  Because his milking parlor adjoins the creamery, the milk is never jostled. Jostling the milk is one factor in creating that “goaty” taste. Charley’s chèvre isn’t “goaty” at all (Not that “goaty” is bad. It’s just a matter of preference). The cheese is rich and creamy and full of flavor. After I left I couldn’t keep my hands out of the feta. It was my candy for the rest of my drive.

You can pick up Jollity cheese locally in Placerville and at various farmer’s markets close to the farm. Plus, the farm is open Tuesdays from 9am-noon.  You can peek into the creamery and see the goats and purchase cheese.  Or if you come by when the farm is closed, at the bottom of the hill, you can park your car and pet goats hanging out close to the road.

Charley, is a really nice guy, and he makes some really nice cheese.Otie