You could never avoid mentioning cheese because it is an essential component of any discussion about delightful Italian cuisine.
The majority of people think of Parmesan when they think of cheese because it is one of the most popular toppings and widely available delicacies.
Also, parmesan differentiates from the competition by being quite simple while still providing a wide range of flavors and smells.
Most of us are aware of how versatile and unquestionably tasty parmesan cheese is. It tastes good both on its own and when added to your preferred pasta meal..
What Is Parmesan Cheese?
Parmesan, or Parmigiano Reggiano, is a hard cheese praised for its unmatched natural umami flavor. It is made solely from raw milk from cattle grazing on the local grasslands and mountains of northern Italy.
Depending on how long it has been aged, the quality might change; the older it is, the grainier and more crystalline it gets.
This design has been copied all around the world and is primarily used for grating. Typically, “Parmesan” is the name given to these.
Its flavor is unceasingly complex, starting with toasted almond undertones and smears of brown butter, and finishing with a salty and bitter aftertaste.
What Is The History Of Parmesan Cheese?
The names of the Italian cheese-producing regions of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, and Mantova give rise to the name Parmigiano Reggiano.
It has been around since the Middle Ages for at least 700 years. A special hard cheese that originated with Parma monks during the Middle Ages was quickly created by aristocrats during the Renaissance.
Locals then abbreviated it to Pramsàn from the Latin term caseum paramensis, which was used at the time. To control the manufacturing of genuine Parmesan Cheese, a consortium of over 800 cheese producers established the Parmesan Consortium in 1934.
Since Parmigiano Reggiano is a cheese with a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in the European Union, only cheese made in specific areas of northern Italy is permitted to bear the name.
How Is Parmesan Cheese Made?
Each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano is a tribute to the true artisanship and skill required in the art of creating Parmesan, which is a tradition and feel-based craft.
In addition, it must be created in a specific manner to earn the Consortium’s official seal of approval.
However, this does not imply that all cheeses have the same flavor because cheesemakers can decide whether to add salt, the length of time they are allowed to age and, of course, the distinctive flavor profile that each batch of milk adds to the cheese.
Rennet, a mixture of enzymes that helps the milk mature, is added to raw milk as it is poured into traditional copper vats.
Eventually, a firm curd that is cut to size and put in wheel-shaped molds is created by maintaining a temperature of 55° Celsius.
The two-week brine soak prevents lactose from being converted to lactic acid and allows the curd to mature before being stored.
The wheels are then placed on hardwood shelves, where staff members meticulously care for them once every ten days.
The wheels are placed in a salt brine and submerged for a few days, where the rind hardens and the wheels absorb the salt.
It will then be tested after maturation in a temperature-controlled warehouse for compliance with strict requirements and given the (figurative) seal of approval.
Since, practically all of the ingredients are unpasteurized raw milk, the final product is a pure cheese that is gluten-free and free of any additives or preservatives.
Younger pecorino has a tendency to be softer, and creamier, and has a brighter, grassier, and tangier flavor.
Additionally, it has a strong saltiness. If the cheeses’ rinds are still attached, you can see that Parmesan has a hard, light-yellow rind while Pecorino has a waxy, dark-colored rind.
Even in low quantities, parmesan cheese is very nourishing. One serving of firm Parmesan weighs one ounce (28 grams).
- Phosphorus: 16% of the DV
- Sodium: 14% of the DV
- Carbs: 0.9 grams
- Calcium: 26% of the daily value (DV)
- Calories: 111
- Protein: 10 grams
- Fat: 7 grams
This cheese is an energy-dense food, meaning it offers a lot of calories per serving, because of the protein and fat it contains.
Furthermore, the fat it contains primarily contains medium- and short-chain fatty acids. These can be used as quick energy sources and are easier to digest, which causes less body fat to accumulate.
Last but not least, this cheese offers a variety of elements, including calcium, phosphorus, and zinc, that are crucial for bone health.
Pecorino Vs Parmesan
You may be familiar with Pecorino, which is a well-known Parmesan substitute. Romano is similar to our Parmesan friend in taste and texture since it is firm and nutty.
What precisely distinguishes the two, then? Both aged, salty hard kinds of cheese Pecorino and Parmesan are manufactured from cow’s milk, but Pecorino is made from sheep’s milk.
The main difference between the two kinds of cheese is this. Pecorino is matured for a few months to a year, and Parmesan is aged for anywhere between a year and three years.
Longer aging of Parmesan results in it becoming harder, drier, and nuttier, sweeter, with some long-aged Parmesans, also having mellow caramel undertones.
Younger pecorino has a tendency to be softer, and creamier, and has a brighter, grassier, and tangier flavor. Additionally, it has a strong saltiness.
If the cheeses’ rinds are still attached, you can see that Parmesan has a hard, light-yellow rind while Pecorino has a waxy, dark-colored rind.
How Should I Eat Parmesan?
Grated parmesan cheese is perfect for giving pasta or risotto flavor, and can be added to soup as a garnish, shred over a green salad, combined with pesto or Alfredo sauce, or served with chicken or veal.
The flavor of soups or sauces can be enhanced by simmering chunks of the rind into them. Additionally, the rinds can be roasted to make a novel cheesy snack.
Is Parmesan Cheese Vegetarian?
Apologies vegetarians, but authentic Parmesan is not vegan. When milk curdles, calf rennet is added as an enzyme during production to help in the formation of the curds, the solid portion that separates from the liquid whey and will ultimately form the cheese.
Although Parmigiano Reggiano won’t be one of them, most shops could have an option for vegetarian versions of Italian hard cheese.
How To Store Parmesan Cheese?
The flavor and texture of Parmigiano Reggiano are best preserved by being sold vacuum-packed. Once the package has been opened, cover it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
All soft cheeses, whether they are open or not, should generally be kept in the refrigerator at all times. However, it can also last for up to six weeks in the fridge and even longer if the package isn’t opened.
Just keep in mind to remove as much oxygen as you can from the bag or container, you’re storing it in. It will survive longer if it has less oxygen in it.
Substitute For Parmesan
If you are aware that you adore Parmesan, there are many kinds of cheese that taste and feel similar to parmesan whether you’re trying to branch out and try something new or simply to broaden your cheese knowledge by tasting a variety.
Grana Padano, which is made in northern Italy, is similar to Parmesan but has a less crumbly texture and a milder flavor.
The cheese, which has ripe fruit tones and a tangy bite and is matured for at least one year, is similar to Parmesan.
Pecorino is an Italian cheese from the south that has many of the same characteristics as Grana Padano and Parmesan. This cheese, which is made from sheep’s milk, is favored for its granular texture and strong flavor.
Parmesan cheese is versatile and questionably tastes good both on its own and when added to your preferred pasta and other dishes or meal.
It is a hard cheese that has historically been produced in particular areas of Northern Italy and has a robust, nutty flavor and a gritty texture that can change depending on how long it is allowed to mature.
Parmesan is superior to other cheeses as it is an example of simplicity while still providing a wide range of flavors and scents.