Parmesan, its features and history

Why is Parmesan, or Parmigiano Reggiano as the Italians call it, the king of cheeses?


There is not one, but several reasons for this, and we will gladly introduce our readers to them. We will also tell you about the history of origin, the technology of preparation and the features of the application of “Parmesan”.

King of cheeses

Exceptional usefulness, a multi-million army of fans, a composition of only three components verified over the centuries and an unforgettable symphony of taste – all these are the hallmarks of Parmesan, which make it the best of the best cheeses.

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Let’s start with the composition. Real Parmesan consists of only 3 ingredients: cow’s milk, salt and rennet. But it also boasts a rich nutrient content.

Hard cheeses are already considered one of the most valuable sources of calcium. And Parmigiano Reggiano holds the palm in terms of the content of a useful element, as befits a king.

100 grams of Parmesan contains 1100 mg of calcium, which is 15 times more than cottage cheese! The king of cheeses is also the leader in protein content. There are about 35 grams of it in a 100-gram piece, which is more than half the daily value.

Moreover, thanks to the long exposure, Parmesan is easy to digest. And due to its low moisture content, it can be stored much longer than other cheeses.

History and cooking technology of Parmigiano Reggiano

It is believed that the original recipe was invented by Italian Benedictine monks over 800 years ago. And they did it in two cities at once – Parma and Reggio Emilia. Subsequently, the producers agreed to standardize the technical process and the cheese was named Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Since then, the famous creation of Parma cheese makers has been called just that. And any cheese made not in the northern regions of Italy is forbidden to be called “Parmesan” by the decision of the European Court. Even if the cow was fed milk from another area, the real Parmigiano-Reggiano will no longer work.

king of French cheeses

Manufacturing technology and recipe of “Parmesan” practically have not changed since the Middle Ages. To create the famous cheese, they take milk from the evening and morning milk. The mixture is heated in huge copper kettles and rennet is added. It turns out cottage cheese, which is transferred to a cloth and placed in whey.

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Then the curd is cut into two pieces and placed in wooden molds. They are regularly inverted to remove excess whey. On the fourth day, the heads are transferred to vats of salt water. From it, the cheese must absorb the amount of salt necessary for long-term storage.

Further, Parmesan must spend at least a year in a special storage facility. One year old cheese has a grainy texture and a sweet taste. After two years, the taste becomes thinner and the sweetness goes away. After three years, Parmesan takes on a nutty flavor and becomes saltier.

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Every 10 days, the cheese is rubbed and turned over. And the work is not easy, since one head weighs 40 kilograms. The readiness of Parmesan is checked by tapping the head of the cheese with a silver hammer.

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On the cheese that has passed all the checks, a special stencil is applied, protected from counterfeiting. If there are no such dots on the skin of your cheese, then in front of you is most likely a craft.

How to eat Parmesan?

It is difficult to imagine the classic pasta “Bolognese” and Italian pizza, various sauces, salads, soups and stews without parmesan.

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But in each case, the way it is used depends on the age of the cheese. Young (from 12 to 18 months) are consumed independently as part of cheese slices. Mature (from 18 to 24 months) is good in hot dishes and when baking meat and fish. Old (over 24 months old), usually used grated for pasta and seafood.

Yevgeny Klopotenko, the winner of the TV show “MasterShef-5” and author of books about food, considers Parmesan to be a universal ingredient that can fabulously transform the taste of the most ordinary dish.

“In fact, Parmesan is more a spice than cheese. Its peculiarity is that it enhances the taste of everything it touches. And Parmesan goes well with absolutely everything. So, in any unclear situation, add Parmesan to your food “, – advises Klopotenko.

He is sure that the additional costs pay off with interest: “If you just lick Parmesan, your receptors will be dominated by the aftertaste for about twenty minutes.”.

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Eugene suggests adding parmesan to baked vegetables, cream soups and any porridge. Even everyday buckwheat with grated Parmesan cheese and tomatoes fried in herbs, according to him, becomes a real delicacy.

How much is “King” worth?

In Italy, the price of Parmigiano Reggiano depends on its age. The price for cheese aged 18 months starts at 18 euros per kilogram. Exposure 36 months will cost 5 euros more. More interesting offers can be found at fairs.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, it is rather difficult to buy a real Parmesan in Russia today. But on the shelves you can find cheese of Russian, Latvian, Moldovan production with the same name. The cost of such a product is in the range of 1000-2000 rubles per kilogram.

What can I say in conclusion? If you find yourself in Italy, do not forget to stock up on the king of cheeses to fully enjoy its noble taste. Bon appetit and a long aftertaste!

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