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Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano Parmesan

Updated on October 16, 2010

Parmigiano Reggiano Factory

Parmigiano Reggiano Factory in Modena, Italy - This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
Parmigiano Reggiano Factory in Modena, Italy - This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Aged Parmigiana Reggiano

Aged Parmigiana Reggiano  This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Author Franois Trazzi
Aged Parmigiana Reggiano This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Author Franois Trazzi

Italian Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese


Parmigiano Reggiano is an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It has a hard, pale-golden rind and a straw-colored interior with a rich, sharp flavor. Although parmesan cheese is made all over the world, only Italy has the true Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano gets its name from the regions of Parma and Reggio, both situated in Emilia Romagna, in northern Italy where the cheese is made.

Italy’s Parmigiano Reggiano is often aged 2 years, with Stravecchio being aged 3 years and stravecchiones, 4 years. This long aging gives the cheese a complex flavor and granular texture, with the typical breaking in slivers characteristic. This cheese is deliciously fragrant with a delicate aroma. Parmesans are primarily used for grating. Pregrated Parmesan is available, but there’s nothing comparable to freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano has the traditional marking and full “Parmigiano – Reggiano” inscribed on the side of the entire wheel of cheese. This enables easy identification, even on small pieces.

The production of Parmigiano Reggiano is restricted to the provinces of Modena, Parma and Reggio in Emilia and parts of Bologna and Mantova. Any cheese made outside this restricted area can not bear the markings of Parmigiano Reggiano. The geographical position of this zone gives the cheese a unique flavor that's impossible to imitate.


Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan Cheese


Parmesan cheese is one of the world’s most popular and widely enjoyed cheeses. Milk used for Parmesan cheese has most of its cream removed, it is then heated and curdled in large copper containers. After the curd has been cut, heated and continuously stirred, it is pressed into cheesecloth-lined molds. The cheese sits in these molds for two days before it is removed and placed in a salted brine for a month. This brine allows the cheese to form its rind which protects it as it ages. The cheese is allowed to age in a very humid environment and is turned regularly.

Tasting a true Parmigiano Reggiano is a heavenly experience. It’s a cheese to savor and an experience you won’t want to miss. This cheese is still made according to its ancient tradition. The identical process used centuries ago is used in making today’s Parmigiano Reggiano. It has the exact same appearance; the same extraordinary fragrance. It’s made in the same way, in the same places and with the same expert ritual techniques.

The making of Parmigiano Reggiano is strictly controlled by DOP, the branch of the Italian government that dictates the specific methods that must be used when making and aging this cheese. There are different grades of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a strict grading system is used to categorize the cheese. The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium defines six quality levels for its cheese.

Third party inspectors examine the cheeses’ external appearance as well as the texture and aroma of its interior. The interior of the cheese is examined by thumping a special hammer on the rind, or taking a sample with a cheese probe. Inspectors must also cut at least one wheel per lot to examine its structural and organoleptic (sight, smell and taste) features.

The top grades are always a pleasant surprise for people who have never savored a true high quality Parmigiano Reggiano.


Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Comments

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  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    6 years ago

    You are so right! There is nothing that compares to the real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. That stuff in the supermarket might be convenient, but it does not compare in terms of flavor. You can also grate the cheese and make little mounds of it on a silpat, then bake it. It comes out as yummy little crunchy wafers. Excellent with a salad or soup!

  • 2uesday profile image

    2uesday 

    6 years ago

    We use this cheese with pasta and nothing else is the same. It may cost more than other cheese but you are not meant to use much in one go. The flavor still comes through when you add it to the meal just before you eat it.

    After visiting Italy many times I know this is the cheese that Italians have with their pasta. This cheese can only be made in a certain area of Italy and they are very proud of their cheese making tradition. The grated versions sold in supermarkets is not really the same experience as the eating freshly grated version.

  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    Thanks Eileen. I love Italy, especially its food!

  • Eileen Hughes profile image

    Eileen Hughes 

    8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

    That was great, Italian things are usually best. Thanks very interesting

  • Lamme profile imageAUTHOR

    Lamme 

    8 years ago

    Hi Bingskee, it's definitely more expensive than the stuff in a can, but worth every cent! Have you ever tried it with prosciutto or balsamic vinegar? You'll never go back, it's absolutely delicious.

  • bingskee profile image

    bingskee 

    8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

    it is also one of those expensive types of cheese. :-)

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