Parmigiano Reggiano PDO has a delicate flavor and fragrant aroma, savory but not piquant.
Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is produced with raw cow’s milk. It’s a cooked and un-pressed hard cheese, known as the “King of Cheeses” thanks to its qualities.
Type of Milk: Cow.
Production Area: It is first of all a microbiological characteristic that links Parmigiano Reggiano PDO cheese to its area of origin. Namely, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is exclusively produced with local raw milk. This is a special milk, characterized by the unique and intense bacterial activity of the indigenous microbial flora. The entire production of Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is placed in the fertile countryside stretching from the Apennines to the river Po. The territory of production is within the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna (West of the Reno river) in Emilia-Romagna, and Mantua (East of the PO river) in Lombardy.
Appearance and Taste: Parmigiano Reggiano PDO has a cylindrical shape with a diameter of 14-18 inches, a height of 8-10 inches and a weight of 66-92 pounds. The rind is natural golden yellow in color. The cheese is hard, with a color that varies from light to deep straw-yellow. The texture is minutely grainy and flaky. The minimum maturation period must be 12 months. It has a delicate flavor and fragrant aroma that is savory but not piquant.
Origins: It is said that Parmigiano Reggiano PDO has been “a great cheese for at least nine centuries” referring to its inimitable characteristics of quality and its history. First references to this hard cheese are dated back to 1200-1300 and today the Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is still done with the same ingredients (milk, rennet and salt, with no additives), techniques and tradition of these years.
Production: Cow milk (of the evening before) is mixed to the morning milk, after being partially skimmed. The dairy cows that produce the milk to be processed into Parmigiano Reggiano PDO follow a specific, costly diet: at least 50% of the forage used by the cattle must be produced by the same dairy farm, and at least 75% must come from the area of origin. The use of silage is forbidden. After being partially skimmed, the milk is put in the characteristic copper boiler to be heated to a temperature of 35°C/95°F, before the calf rennet is added. The rennet initiates the creation of the curd, which is then is broken and heated at 55°C/131°F. The cooked grains deposit at the bottom of the vat forming a big mass of cheese. The mass is then lifted out of the boiler and cut in half. Each half is wrapped in a linen cloth and put first into wooden or Teflon molds, then in steel molds, where the cheese obtains its characteristic shape. The salting process is 16-20 days long in a solution with natural salt and then aged for 12 month minimum, consumed mainly at 24-36 months of aging.
Gastronomy: Parmigiano Reggiano PDO is a key ingredient for Italian dishes: it’s grated on Pasta and is perfect to be eaten alone in flakes in salads or with fruit or honey or jams. It has many properties, in addition to being highly digestible it also features a high content of bio-available calcium, with a complete absence of additives and preservatives, a wealth of mineral micro and macro-nutrients, as well as offering a pleasant and satisfying sensorial profile. These characteristics have resulted in Parmigiano Reggiano being included in the diet of cosmonauts. If vacuum-packed, Parmigiano Reggiano PDO should be conserved in the fridge at a temperature of 2-6°C/43-46°F; if not, it is best to keep it vacuum-sealed or in transparent plastic food bags. Suggested Wine Pairings: Prosecco, Franciacorta.
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