The main type of surface rinds

The main type of surface rinds

Do you know the main type of cheese rinds? Let us explain them to you, appearance, color, smell: a wide range of possibilities.


Bloomy rinds

A great French specialty, with two flora superstars, more frequently being associated together in soft cheese: Penicillium camemberti and Geotrichum candidum. The former is usually more proteolytic and forms a thick rind, while the latter is less active and provides a thinner covering. If their development is excessive on the surface and the proteolysis is too fast, a ''toad skin'' develops on the rind: the cheese curds flow under the surface but remain firm and chalky in the center, its skin tends to shrink, and the cheese becomes bitter.

Examples of bloomy rind cheese: Camembert, Brie, Chaource...

Bloomy rinds


Washed rinds

    More taste in perspective: washing the rind stimulates the development of the ''brevibacteria'', which release aroma compounds into the atmosphere and the curd. They are usually cheese with a strong, even robust taste. Historically, this washing was performed to clean the rind of other molds like Mucor. The curd takes on pink-orange tones, possibly reinforced by the addition of annatto. The addition of alcohol (schnapps, beer, wine...) helps to slow down the microbial activity, triggers an earlier degradation of microorganisms, helping to release the intro-cellular enzymes more rapidly, which preserves the cheeses longer and develops their typicity.

    Examples of washed rind cheese: Livarot, Munster, Maroilles...

    Washed rinds


    Ashed rinds

      Historically, some cheeses, mostly soft cheeses, were covered with ash so that they could be kept longer: the ash neutralized the surface and kept harmful insects away. In addition, it accelerated the transfer of water from the core of the cheese to the surface. This practice has completely disappeared, and the ash is now replaced by vegetable charcoal which becomes greyish when it mixes little by little with the surface mold.

      Examples of cheeses with an ashed rind: Selles sur Cher, Sainte Maure de Touraine, Valençay...

      Ashed rinds


      Grey rinds

        They are very common in uncooked pressed curd cheese, they owe their appearance to the mold Mucor, commonly known as ''cat hair''. This mold needs moisture to grow and gives a pronounced mushroom taste. Mucor is not always working alone, as in for example Saint-Nectaire: Chrysoporium sulfureum, in particular, produces small powdery, lemon-yellow spots on the rind.

        Examples of cheese with grey rind: Tomme de Savoie, Tomme des Bauges... 

        Grey rinds


        Complex rinds

          Some cheeses are covered with a mix of different flora, with significant variability as the season goes by. It is usually composed of a dry rind, where the dominant flora makes the other flora that appears as spots or areas of pigmentation. It is more of a farmhouse or artisanal product, where the cheesemaker suffers more from his environment than he controls.

          Examples of cheese with complex rind: Tomme de brebis, Tomme de montagne...

          complex rinds


          Smear rinds

            Similar to the washed rind for soft cheeses, but for cooked or uncooked pressed curd cheeses. The cheesemaker moistens the surface of the cheese with a cloth that has been previously soaked with a smear: which is composed of salt, water, and cultures, potentially supplemented with spices and aromatics.

            Examples of smear rind cheeses: Raclette, Beaufort, Appenzeller, Comté...

            Smear rinds


            Pitted rinds

              Specific to cheeses of the Cantal family, the pitted rinds have a relief of small bumps, which tones range from white to brownish through to yellow. These thick rinds form a real hard shell. Several molds and bacteria are at work: sporendonena casei, brachy bacterium, penicillium fuscoglaucun, penicillium biforme...

              Examples of cheeses with pitted rinds: Cantal, Laguiole, Cheddar, Salers...

              Pitted rinds


              Rinds with mites

                Cirons (also called ''cerons'', ''artisons'', ''artisous''...) are mites, microscopic insects that perforate the rind and feed on the curd. Their activity contributes to the typical taste of the cheeses. The cheesemaker must regularly brush the cheeses to eliminate some of them and fight against the effects of their gluttony.

                Examples of mited rinds cheese: Traditional Mimolette, Fromages aux Artisous...

                Rinds with mites


                Wax, plastic rinds

                  A historical specialty of the major cheese-making trading nations (Netherlands, UK...), the waxing or the addition of a plasticizer on the cheese’s surface to help protect it from physical shocks, prevent the development of the surface flora and severely limit losses.

                  Examples of cheeses with a wax rind: Gouda, Edam, Industrial Mimolette...

                  Wax, plastic rinds


                  Smoked rinds

                    Before being an aromatization technique, historically, smoking was used as a cheese protection strategy: it dries the surface of the cheese and limits microbial activity. In practice, the cheese is stored for a few hours in a smoking room, a whole dedicated room or a small made-to-measure homemade cabinet.

                    Examples of smoked rind cheeses: Brézain, Sartenais...

                    Smoked rinds


                    Source: Profession Fromager


                    If you want to know more about the cheese rind and ripening process check our books section.