It is said that Italian geological, culinary, and cultural history is hidden in each piece of Parmigiano Reggiano! This preservation is dictated by the Consortium via rigid controls on the production that is based on a recipe that has barely changed from the 12th Century.
Accordingly, Parmigiano Reggiano can only be made in the provinces of Modena, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Bologna in the region of Emilia-Romagna and Mantova in Lombardia. On 500 farms in these provinces, approximately 3.5 million cheeses are made per year. And a staggering 640L of milk is required to make just one 38Kg drum! Under the PDO guideline it is stipulated that the cows whose milk is used, can be fed no silage… only fresh grass, hay, or alfalfa. As a result, the cheeses change subtly with the seasons.
Spring cheeses are a soft yellow with a delicate herbal scent attributed to the wildflowers on which the cows graze. Newly formed wheels of summer-made cheese exude butterfat so they are drier and more pungent. The winter diet of hay produces a paler but richer tasting cheese.
Overall, Parmigiano Reggiano should taste fresh and fruity, strong and rich, and not overpoweringly salty. Sold in freshly chiselled chunks, this cheese will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. If used infrequently, it can be kept in, and grated directly from, the freezer (keeping in mind that it is notably better to freshly grate just prior to use).
Parmigiano Reggiano reigns supreme for general culinary use. It adds a fruity, tangy flavour in virtually any savoury dish you choose to make! As well, it is a classic ‘hard cheese’ on the cheeseboard.