Revealing The Rich Flavors Of Parmigiano Reggiano

Revealing The Rich Flavors Of Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard, granular cheese that is produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, specifically in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantua. It is commonly referred to as “parmesan cheese” in English.

In This Article

Key Takeaways

  • Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard, granular cheese produced in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
  • It is made using the “pasta filata” method with rennet as a natural enzyme.
  • The curds are cut, molded, and immersed in salt brine to develop flavor and texture.
  • The cheese is aged for a minimum of 12 months and monitored regularly during this time.
  • Italian law regulates the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, including strict requirements for ingredients, production process, and aging time.
  • Only cheeses meeting these criteria can bear the official seal of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano has a PDO designation, which means it is subject to strict regulations for production, labeling, and marketing.

How Is Parmigiano Reggiano Made?

Parmigiano Reggiano is a type of hard cheese that is made using the “pasta filata” method, which involves heating the milk and then curdling it with the use of rennet, a natural enzyme. The resulting curds are then cut into small pieces, heated again, and placed into cylindrical molds to be pressed into shape. After this, the cheese is immersed in a salt brine to help develop its flavor and texture.

Once the cheese has been removed from the brine, it is aged for a minimum of 12 months, during which time it is carefully monitored and turned regularly to ensure proper development. Some Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses are aged for even longer periods, up to 40 months or more, which results in a stronger and more complex flavor.

The production of Parmigiano Reggiano is highly regulated by Italian law, with specific requirements in terms of the ingredients, production process, and aging time. Only cheeses that meet these strict criteria can be designated as Parmigiano Reggiano and bear the official seal of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The Aging Process

The aging process is a critical part of the production of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, as it allows the cheese to develop its characteristic flavor, texture, and aroma. Here are the key steps involved in the aging process:

  1. Salting: After the cheese has been formed into its characteristic wheel shape, it is immersed in a brine solution for about 3 weeks. The salt helps to draw moisture out of the cheese and creates a protective layer on the rind.
  2. Aging: The cheese is then transferred to special rooms where it is left to age for a minimum of 12 months. During this time, the cheese is carefully monitored and turned regularly to ensure even aging. Some cheeses are aged for up to 80 months, which gives them a more intense, nutty flavor.
  3. Inspection: After the cheese has aged for at least 12 months, it is inspected by a panel of experts from the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano. The cheese is examined for flavor, texture, and appearance, and only those that meet the strict standards are allowed to be sold as Parmigiano Reggiano.
  4. Marking and Packaging: Once the cheese has passed inspection, it is marked with the official Parmigiano Reggiano seal, which includes the name of the cheese, the production date, and the identification number of the producing dairy. The cheese is then packaged in protective wrapping and sent out to market.

Overall, the aging process is a critical part of producing high-quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, as it allows the cheese to develop its unique flavor, texture, and aroma. The strict production standards and careful monitoring of the aging process ensure that only the highest-quality cheeses are allowed to be sold as Parmigiano Reggiano.

What Is The Pasta Filata Method?

Pasta filata is a cheese-making technique that is used to create several types of Italian cheeses, including mozzarella, provolone, and scamorza. The name “pasta filata” comes from the Italian words for “spun paste,” which refers to the process of stretching and kneading the cheese curds to create a smooth and elastic texture.

To make pasta filata cheese, milk is first heated and then curdled with the addition of rennet. The curds are then cut into small pieces and placed in hot water or whey to be cooked. The heat causes the curds to melt and fuse together, creating a stretchy, elastic mass of cheese.

At this point, the cheese is stretched and kneaded repeatedly to create a uniform texture and expel any excess liquid. This process helps to develop the cheese’s characteristic stringy texture and enhances its flavor and aroma. Finally, the cheese is formed into its desired shape and cooled in brine to develop its flavor and preserve its texture.

The Parmigiano Reggiano PDO

Parmigiano Reggiano is a protected designation of origin (PDO) cheese, which means that it is subject to strict regulations regarding its production, labeling, and marketing. These regulations are set forth by the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano, a consortium of cheese producers and experts that oversees the production of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

To be designated as Parmigiano Reggiano, the cheese must meet the following requirements:

  1. Production area: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese must be produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, specifically in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantua.
  2. Ingredients: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese must be made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, which is sourced from cows that are fed only on local grass and hay.
  3. Production process: The cheese must be made using the traditional “pasta filata” method, which involves heating the milk and then curdling it with rennet. The resulting curds are cut into small pieces, heated again, and placed into cylindrical molds to be pressed into shape. The cheese is then immersed in a salt brine to help develop its flavor and texture. The cheese must be aged for a minimum of 12 months, during which time it is carefully monitored and turned regularly to ensure proper development.
  4. Labeling: Only cheeses that meet these strict criteria can be designated as Parmigiano Reggiano and bear the official seal of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano. The seal includes the words “Parmigiano Reggiano” and the identification number of the producing dairy.

By adhering to these regulations, the producers of Parmigiano Reggiano aim to ensure that the cheese is of the highest quality and is produced in a way that honors its long history and tradition. The result is a cheese that is prized for its rich, nutty flavor and granular texture, and is widely regarded as one of the finest cheeses in the world.

Parmigiano Reggiano vs. Parmesan Cheese - Parmesan Cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano vs. Parmesan Cheese

How To Choose Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano

Choosing an authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese can be a bit tricky, as there are many imitations and counterfeit versions on the market. Here are some tips on how to spot a real Parmigiano Reggiano and avoid being fooled by a fake:

  1. Look for the official seal: All authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses are marked with an official seal that includes the words “Parmigiano Reggiano” and the identification number of the producing dairy. The seal is imprinted directly into the rind of the cheese and can be easily identified by its distinct shape and font.
  2. Check the origin: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese must be produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, specifically in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantua. Be wary of cheeses that claim to be Parmigiano Reggiano but are produced outside of this area.
  3. Examine the rind: The rind of a real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese should be hard, dry, and dark yellow or brown in color. It should also have the official seal imprinted into it, as mentioned above.
  4. Check the texture: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese should have a granular texture with small, visible crystals throughout. It should also be firm to the touch and not too soft or crumbly.
  5. Smell and taste: Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese has a rich, nutty aroma and a complex, savory flavor with hints of caramel and fruit. Be wary of cheeses that lack this depth of flavor or have an artificial or off-putting taste.

By following these tips and purchasing from reputable sources, you can ensure that you are getting a genuine Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that meets the high standards set by the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiano Reggiano vs. Grana Padano

Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano are both hard, granular cheeses that are produced in Italy, but there are some key differences between the two.

  1. Production area: Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced only in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, specifically in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantua, while Grana Padano is produced in a larger area that includes parts of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Trentino, and Veneto.
  2. Ingredients: Both cheeses are made from unpasteurized cow’s milk, but Parmigiano Reggiano is made only with milk from cows that are fed exclusively on local grass and hay, while Grana Padano may contain some silage or other feed. This difference in diet can affect the flavor of the cheese.
  3. Aging: Parmigiano Reggiano is aged for a minimum of 12 months, while Grana Padano is aged for a minimum of 9 months. This extra aging gives Parmigiano Reggiano a richer, more complex flavor with more pronounced nutty and fruity notes.
  4. Texture: Parmigiano Reggiano has a more granular, crumbly texture, while Grana Padano is slightly softer and more pliant. The texture of Parmigiano Reggiano also tends to be more irregular, with small, visible crystals throughout the cheese.
  5. Flavor: Both cheeses have a nutty, savory flavor, but Parmigiano Reggiano has a more pronounced umami flavor and a longer finish, while Grana Padano has a milder flavor with a shorter finish.
Parmigiano Reggiano vs. Grana Padano - Parmesan Cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano vs. Grana Padano

Conclusion

Parmigiano Reggiano is a hard, granular cheese that is produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It is made using the “pasta filata” method, which involves heating the milk and then curdling it with the use of rennet, a natural enzyme. Parmigiano Reggiano is aged for a minimum of 12 months, during which time it is carefully monitored and turned regularly to ensure proper development.

The production of Parmigiano Reggiano is highly regulated by Italian law, with specific requirements in terms of the ingredients, production process, and aging time. Only cheeses that meet these strict criteria can be designated as Parmigiano Reggiano and bear the official seal of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano. The cheese is protected by a PDO designation, which means that it is subject to strict regulations regarding its production, labeling, and marketing.

What's Your Reaction?
Excited
0
Happy
0
In Love
0
Not Sure
0
Silly
0

© 2019 The Gastro Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top