#10 – Parmesan

Parmesan cheese facts:

  • For a cheese to be called as Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano), it has to be produced from cows grazing on fresh grass and hay.
  • Other cheeses made in a similar way are called as Parmesan or Italian hard cheese by producers to avoid legal issues.
  • It has a hard, gritty texture and is fruity or nutty in taste. However, “fake” Parmesan often tastes bitter.
  • It originated in Italy and is made in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua.
  • A similar cheese named Grana Padano, also from northern Italy, is less well known in the US but outsells Parmigiano-Reggiano by 10 to 1 in Italy. Cistercian monks first created Grana Padano in the 11th century. Parmigiano-Reggiano, originally a copy of “Grana”,  debuted about two hundred years later.
  • In the summer, the heat causes the butterfat in the milk to rise to the top surface of the wheel, however, in the winter, it remains deep inside.  Because of this, winter cheeses tend to be more uniform and softer, ideal for serving as a table cheese, while summer cheeses are better for grating.
  • Because of its healthy properties, many families in Italy sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano on their baby’s food.
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