Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by Aaron
Parmesan cheese is known for its distinct flavor and texture, often used to add a flavorful salty kick to dishes. Unfortunately, the leftover parmesan rinds are often discarded instead of being used as an ingredient in other recipes. But don’t throw them away just yet! These flavorful wedges of cheese can be used to boost the flavor of soups and sauces.
If you don’t have a parmesan rind on hand, there are other ingredients that can be used as substitutes, which we will discuss more later.
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Parmesan Rind Basic: What Can You Do With The Rind?
The parmesan rind is not waxed or has additives on it. It is essentially part of the cheese with the same ingredients. While it’s edible, the parmesan cheese rind or “crust” is usually not eaten on its own and doesn’t grate well as it has a hard and chewy texture. Instead, it can be used to add flavor and depth to dishes such as soups, sauces, or stews.
The salty kick that it provides can really bring out the umami flavors of a dish, making for a taste-filled experience. It can also be simmered in water to make a flavorful broth, perfect for risotto and other dishes. The rind won’t melt completely but will likely soften and break down. Also, the rind or the outer wheel part of parmesan will tend to have a higher butyric acid than the inside, so it actually tastes/smells stronger! — we’ve discussed more in the why parmesan vomit smell article.
Parmesan is an aged cheese and will naturally form a rind as a result of the salt-brined surface exposed to the air. After long aging, the rind will get drier and deeper color. Depending on the production and several other factors, some parmesan brands may not have a thick, hard rind (usually around ¼ to ½ inch thickness) or had been removed before packaging.
You may ask your local cheese counter, restaurant or grocery store if they would sell the parmesan rind after craved up the parmesan wheel, usually at a reduced price.
On the other hand, Parmigiano Reggiano is typically aged longer for 12-36 months which will always have a nice thicker and harder rind compared to other kinds. The rind of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is also more flavorful, adding complex flavor like a fruity or nutty note. Read our comparison of Parmesan vs. Parmigiano Reggiano.
You may also find the rind fire-branded with logo and pinhole markings signifying the Parmigiano Reggiano letter.
Parmesan Rind Substitutes
If you don’t have parmesan rind you can just use the parmesan cheese instead for the best result, make sure to use slightly more cheese than the recipe suggests. Pre-grated parmesan will work too. Alternatively, you can also use other cheese rinds as substitutes for parmesan rind. For example, Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, and asiago are all good substitutes — from the same family, they offer a similar flavor profile and salty kicks — as we’ve discussed in the parmesan substitutes article here.
Other options include cheddar, gouda and other hard cheeses — again, these will offer different flavor profiles but can all be used successfully to add depth of flavor to soups and sauces. Other ingredients can also be used in place of parmesan rinds such as anchovies (which will add a deeper umami flavor) or miso paste (which adds a savory note). For vegetarian-friendly options, try kombu (seaweed), soy sauce, or nutritional yeast.
Remember to adjust the amount of salt in a recipe if you swap out parmesan rinds for these ingredients as they will all have quite different salt levels! Finally, let your taste buds guide you when it comes to choosing substitutions — experiment with different flavors and enjoy the process!
5 Great Ways To Use Parmesan Rind
For the most part, you can simply add the cheese rind to boiling water and simmer over low-medium heat until most of the rind has broken down. Depending on the size, it will take about 30 minutes for smaller chunks of rind and 1-2 hours for bigger ones. Strain out the pieces.
- Broth: Parmesan rind can be used to make a great-tasting broth for soups and risotto.
- Sauce Enhancer: Parmesan rind can be used for sauces such as marinara sauce or tomato sauce.
- Soups and Stews: Parmesan rind is a great way to add an extra layer of flavor to soup recipes.
- Garnish: Parmesan rind can be used as a garnish for salads, pasta dishes, soups and more.
- Grilled it: Parmesan rind can also be grilled to provide a crunchy, savory topping for salads and other dishes. Give it a little cooking spray and grill it over direct heat until brown with a little charring on the edge.