Why does cheese cost a fortune? I love trying exotic cheeses, but it’s hard to be an adventurous eater when most cut pieces are prohibitively expensive. And let’s be honest — pungent cheese can taste like a big musty foot, a risk I don’t want to run when my student budget rarely allows for such an extravagant expenditure.
A recent discovery has assuaged my fears: the scrap cheese basket. First found at Greenlife in Asheville, this little basket is filled with the tiny pieces that don’t make a beautiful presentation in the dairy case. The quality is no different, and it really takes the pressure off committing to a foreign cheese. In Greensboro, EarthFare has adopted the practice, and I picked up an inexpensive goat gouda (among others) that paired well with walnuts, dates, and cranberries.
Another easy way to save is to buy Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds, which still have plenty of edible cheese attached. In fact, the cheese closest to the rind is the most flavorful, and with a microplane, there’s no trouble maximizing your cheese return. When you’ve exhausted a rind, freeze it and use it later to flavor a vegetable soup or broth. At Harris Teeter, the cheese counter will gladly sell you a container full for about $4.00 (approx. 1/2 a pound at $6.99/lb.), a great deal when you consider that the large wedges sell for $24.99/lb.