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Cheeses with rinds.Tad Seaborn for The Globe and Mail

Generally most rinds are edible. Should you eat them? It comes down to personal choice.

You may not like the washed rind on a munster but enjoy it on Oka. You should at least smell it, as its aroma can give you an earthy sense of place or signify if a cheese is past its prime.

Bloomy Rind

To not eat this rind when supple - well, it's like scooping the filling out of a lovingly made pie crust. Steer clear, however, if the rind is disintegrating or smells of ammonia.

There are times when a soft cheese may be perfectly ripe - oozy and silky - on the interior, yet the rind may be starting to dry out or crack. In this case, yes, it's best to just scoop out the paste.

Soft, Washed Rind

These rinds can be strong but the funky smell is often the most overwhelming experience. If you're brave enough to try the paste, why not have a bit of the rind as well? Look for a damp, smooth and intact exterior.

Though powerful, the smell should still be "outdoorsy" barnyard - it should never smell putrid or ammoniated. Again, for a very ripe cheese if the rind is slightly dry and cracking, just eat the paste. But be careful: If the rind is deteriorating the whole cheese may be past peak.

Natural Rind

Often the rinds on older, aged cheeses are too tough to eat and should be cut off. But if sliced thinly, certain rinds can add a chewy, earthy embellishment to a cheese And the rinds of cheeses, such as Parmesan Reggiano or a Pecorino, can be kept to throw into a soup, stew or sauce to add savoury depth.

Clothbound Cheddar

The blue mould that often grows on the rind of the clothbound cheddar can some times creep into the cheese through cracks in the rind. Cracks aren't ideal but the mould is safe to eat.