Did you know that authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano is produced in a specific region of Italy, and that anything simply labelled Parmesan is a domestic copycat made in a similar style? We hooked up with Parmigiano Reggiano, the crème de le crème of Italian artisan cheese makers, and they very kindly sent us some of their authentic Italian produce to try.
A little history…
Let’s be honest, all things cheese-related are exciting, but being sent a sample of top-notch Italian cheese, when all your hopes and dreams of getting away to Italy this summer have been crushed by a global pandemic, is REALLY exciting. We had been expecting a small delivery, so were quite surprised when a reasonably large box arrived at our doorstep and buried inside we found a huge block of cheese that we can safely say, is around the size of a female head!
Parmigiano Reggiano is produced exclusively in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Bologna and has PDO status, which means its traditional production methods are protected under European law, and you can’t make it anywhere else! 550 litres of milk are used to produce each wheel, which is poured into a traditional upturned bell-shaped copper vat and then slowly coagulates with the edition of rennet and whey. The curd is broken down into granules and cooked in a cauldron to form a solid wheel. It is then salted and left to mature for a minimum of 12 months, although it can take up to 40 in some cases!
The taste of this ‘king of cheeses’ certainly doesn’t disappoint! It has a crumbly texture which melts in your mouth and a slight sweetness and nutty taste that knocks the socks off any generic store-bought alternative! The gracious team at Parmigiano-Reggiano have sent us some of their fabulous recipes to try out, so there is a lot of cheesy inspiration to come!
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