Wiki: Dry Salting Rinds

This Wiki Article discusses dry salting cheese rinds, a procedure normally performed after forming the cheese and before air drying and aging. This salting method is commonly used with mold ripened cheeses such as Camembert & Brie and with washed-rind type cheeses. 

For the dry salt to be absorbed by the formed cheese, it must first dissolve and form a brine at the cheese’s surface after which it then diffuses into the cheese. As reviewed in the Wiki: Salt’s Function article, the % salt content in the type of cheese being made is critical. Thus it is important to understand the six main factors that control this method of salting cheese. 

Ambient Humidity

Soft rind dry salted type cheeses, are aged in high ~95% ambient humidity environment after dry salting. The high humidity is to prevent excessive evaporation of moisture from the surface of the cheese which would result in a dehydrated dense and tough rind being formed. Further these cheese types normally must remain with a high moisture content at their surface to enable their surface growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria and in time their growth into the center of the cheese. 

For hard rinded cheeses, the ambient humidity is held relatively low @ 85% to encourage expelled whey to be evaporated resulting in a dehydrated surface layer of cheese, the start of the rind development process. Repeated applications of dry salt to hard rinded cheeses result in a steadily increasing dehydrated layer. 

Cheese Size

Four 10 cm diameter Camemberts after dry salting.
Four 10 cm diameter Camemberts after dry salting.

Generally, the cheese making procedure dictates the size of the formed cheese (good examples are generally uniform sized Camembert’s and Brie’s), and thus the procedures amount and method of applying the salt is matched to the size. 

However, if deviating in size of cheese, consideration should be given to the number of applications of dry salt and thus also the time to allow the cheese to reach it’s salt % content target range. 

Note, for large cheeses this becomes a problem because in time the build up of a dense hard layer from repeated dry salting the cheese’s surface will inhibit further salty brine uptake into the cheese and the dry salt will no longer be absorbed resulting in a cheese with sub-optimal % salt content. It is for this reason that large rinded wheels of cheese are often brine salted first, and then their rinds dry salted to i) reach the target % salt content and ii) to develop their hard rinds. 

Cheese Temperature

As with dry salting curds, the temperature of the cheese will be a controlling factor of the salt’s absorption rate. However their is ample time to absorb the salt while the fresh cheese is drying so this is not normally an issue and thus the temperature during dry salting more a function of the cheese’s drying and aging requirements. 

Salt Type

Standard sodium chloride, NaCl salt is used. It should be coarse granular sized rather than very fine to slow down the speed of dissolving into brine and absorption into the cheese. As with high temperatures, fine salt can result in a rapid flush of whey and fat which can wash away other salt before being absorbed resulting in incorrect salt % content of the cheese type being made. Different types of salt are discussed in the Wiki: Salt Types article. 

Salt Amount

As reviewed in the Wiki: Salt’s Function article, final salt content of the cheese type you are making is critical. Thus follow the cheese making procedure accurately on amount/weight of salt being applied versus weight of final cheese(s). If making several cheeses such as Camemberts in one make, ensure salt is allocated evenly. 

Salt Application

There are two salt application methods for dry salting rind cheeses: 

  1. For soft rind type cheeses, sprinkle measured amount of dry salt onto the whole rind including sides. Care should be taken to ensure the salt does not land off the cheese otherwise sub-optimal % slat content will be obtained.
  2. For hard rind type cheeses, rub dry salt onto the rind.