Produced exclusively by raw milk from cattle grazing on the local grasslands and hillsides of northern Italy, Parmesan, or Parmigiano Reggiano, is a hard cheese praised for its unparalleled natural umami flavour. Unrelentingly intricate in taste, it opens with tones of roasted almonds and dashes of brown butter, followed by a sharp and salty aftertaste to finish. Caressing your palate in a mellow sensation, it instantly draws you nearer with its complex flavours and textures.
Exemplifying simplicity, while still offering a great variety of flavour and aroma, Parmesan simply stands above the rest.
The art of making Parmesan is one of tradition and feel, making each wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano a testament to pure artisanship and skill.
Raw milk, poured down traditional copper vats, is blended with a complex of enzymes known as rennet that help develop the milk. Temperature is kept at 55° Celsius, eventually producing a firm curd that is then cut to size and placed in wheel-shaped moulds. Before being stored to age, the curd is sat in brine for two weeks, halting the process of lactose being converted to lactic acid. The wheels are then arranged on wooden shelves, where workers carefully tend them every ten days. Finally, after a minimum of one year of aging, the smooth curd has turned solid and granular, producing a perfect wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano.
With the ingredients almost being entirely unpasteurised raw milk, the result is a gluten free, pure cheese without any additives or preservatives. The addition of rennet however, makes true Parmesan unsuitable for vegetarians.
A great many hard cheeses offer similar traits to those of Parmesan, and make for good substitutes.
Produced in northern Italy, Grana Padano is closely related to Parmesan, though less crumbly in texture and milder in flavour. Like Parmesan, the cheese is aged for a minimum of one year, boasting tones of ripe fruit and a tart bite.
Pecorino hails from the southern regions of Italy, and like Grana Padano, it shares many of the qualities found in Parmesan. Produced from sheep’s milk, this cheese is favoured for its sharp taste and granular texture.
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