Waste not cheese rinds – want not flavor!
We love to eat the rinds 99.9% of the time. But, sometimes, they’re just too hard to bite into, or even too hard to grate.
Fortunately, we do not have to throw out the rinds of hard cheeses – there are quite a few ways to use them in cooking.
Sauces and Stocks
The simplest way is to cut off the rinds (in big pieces), bag them and freeze them until the next time you are making soup, risotto, tomato sauce, stock, stew, beans, etc.
Just add a piece of rind as you would a bay leaf, fishing it out of the final product before you serve it.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rinds are probably the most flavorful. They are also the hardest to bite into, so, it is very common to have pieces of rind left over. In fact, some of us buy the chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano with the most rind because we like adding them to so many things.
You can use the rinds to make parmesan infused oil by simply steeping them in olive oil and adding a clove of garlic or two.
If you have a lot of rinds (which you can sometimes purchase inexpensively at high end markets) you can make parmesan broth, as in the recipes below:
Parmesan Broth from Culture
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, quartered and peeled
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped*
1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind
1/2 parsley bunch, stems and leaves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. When hot, add the onion, garlic, and fennel. Cook over moderate heat until the vegetables have softened and are beginning to brown. The more caramelized the vegetables are, the deeper the flavor of your broth will be.
Add 2 quarts of water and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 3 – 4 hours, until the Parmesan rind has become soft. Strain the broth before use.
*Note: You can substitute leeks for the fennel in this recipe.
Corn & Parmesan Broth from Kenan Hill
3-5 corn cobs, kernels removed
¼ pound parmesan rinds
1 medium onion, quartered (peel optional)
3-5 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
In a large pot, add all ingredients and cover with 2 quarts (8 cups) water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1-2 hours (or more). Season with salt to taste if desired.
Let broth cool slightly, then strain and discard solids. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for use within a few days. Otherwise, freeze in straight-sided containers or ice cube trays for later use.
Yield: about 1.5 quarts (6 cups)
The longer the cooking time, the more concentrated the flavors become. If you choose to simmer for more than a couple hours, you may want to add more water (depending on how well your pot lid traps in the steam/condensation).
To make this recipe in a slow cooker, add all ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4.
You can make just corn broth without the parmesan and/or aromatics. You only need to simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour for good corn flavor. Similarly, you can make plain parmesan broth without the corn cobs.
The parmesan will likely stick to the bottom of your pot. That’s totally fine and normal, just FYI.
The rinds of other hard cheeses like pecorino and asiago work well, too (even all together!).
A small amount of fat will accumulate from the cheese. The easiest way to remove it is to refrigerate the broth, and then skim the solidified fat off the top.
Hardy herbs such rosemary, thyme, and sage are all great additions.
Toasted Parmesan Rinds
This can be tricky. The very outer shell of the rind remains a little bit hard and chewy, but if you can just shave that off, you can make little chunks of crispy parmesan to add to salads, etc.
Cut into 1/2″ blocks, put on a plate lined with parchment paper and microwave for 30 seconds- 1 minute. Or, toast like marshmallows over a flame.
Some cheese rinds are not necessarily suitable for cooking:
If the cheese is wrapped in leaves which have become hard and brittle, take off that part of the rind before adding to your cooking.
If the cheese is bandaged, take off the cloth.
If the cheese is waxed, you definitely want to take off the wax!