Parmesan cheese is a popular Italian product that can transform any simple dish. Initially, Parmesan, or as the Italians call it, “Parmigiano Reggiano”, was prepared only in a few provinces of the Emilia-Romagna region, including Parma, Bologna, Reggio Emilia. Nowadays, lots of parmigiano reggiano brands can be found in all corners of the world. However, it was the French name “Parmesan” that stuck, and although It is primarily an Italian cheese that has a certificate of conformity to regional standards, there are also Lithuanian, Chinese, American, and Australian parmesans, some of which have won awards as the best parmesan cheese brands.
Cheese made of cow’s milk ripens from one to three years. By the way, determining the maturity of different types of parmesan cheeses is a profession: specially trained people hit the cheese with silver hammers, and “listen” to the sound of the cheese.
This product was invented back in the 1100s by Benedictine monks, who are also known to us for their liqueurs, honey, and beers, and made this breakthrough, as usual in history, not for self-interest, but to provide food. The long shelf life of both aged parmesan cheese and traditional products made it convenient, and household chores associated with cooking did not distract monks once again from prayers.
Young Parmesan takes its well-deserved place on the cheese platter served with wine at the end of the meal. More mature product is used for adding to pastes, ravioli, and gnocchi. But the use of this product is not limited to this – people cook potatoes with powdered parmesan cheese, chicken nuggets, or turkey, add it to buckwheat porridge and risotto.
Pork, veal, seafood (mussels, oysters, shrimps, or scallops), chicken, omelets, eggplants are baked under a crust. High-quality product is indispensable for making light green salads or hot snacks – flavored wheat focaccia with herbs, toasts with sprinkles, salads with ham, pear slices, and pecans, with arugula and avocado, with tuna and beans.
But it would be wrong to think that the spicy, salty, piquant taste of this product is appropriate only in appetizers and hot “second” dishes: it is also added to desserts. For example, apple pie with sour apples, spicy snacks cookies, and cheese balls with nutmeg, and … chocolates, dipping pieces of parmesan in melted dark chocolate.
The culinary advantages of cheese are emphasized by physiological ones: top best parmesan cheese is easy to digest, is a source of proteins and amino acids, trace elements, and vitamins. No wonder, in restaurants of home Italian cuisine, Parmesan dishes are on the table along with salt and pepper shakers – after all, there is never enough Parmesan.
This product is not in vain called the “king of cheeses”, because it has plenty of things that make it really special: production and maturation standards, the harmony of aroma, taste, and texture, embodied in every piece and, of course, a rich history that hides in a lot of interesting facts. Here are the ten most interesting of them.
- Traditional name. The real Italian product appeared in two cities at once: Parma and Reggio nel Emilia. In 1934, the manufacturers agreed on one standard for making cheese, which was called Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Quality standard. In order for a cheese to receive a seal, which gives the right to sell a product under the name Parmigiano-Reggiano, it needs to go through several stages of quality control. A special Consortium, created in 1934, is engaged in verification. Its experts assess the weight of each cheese unit, its size, smell, texture, and fat content to meet the required standards. If even one parameter does not match, the Parmigiano Reggiano label is removed from the cheese crust.
- Strict diet. To prepare the classic Parmesan, it is necessary that the milk-producing cows adhere to a certain diet: they are fed exclusively with grass and hay. Silage, haylage, cornage, and other similar feed are taboo.
- Annual production. About 3.5 million heads are produced every year in the world. The weight of one item is about 40 kg.
- The composition of the cheese. Traditionally, it consists of only 3 components: cow’s milk, salt, and rennet. One kilogram of cheese will require 16 liters of milk, and it is processed strictly at a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius.
- A special profession is a snitch. This is the name given to specially trained people in Italy who check the quality of cheese by tapping with a special hammer. It depends on their decision to which class the cheese will be ranked: the first, the second (sold only in grated form), or the third (cannot be called “Parmesan”).
- Cheese without lactose. The product contains almost no lactose, a disaccharide carbohydrate commonly found in milk and dairy products. So people suffering from intolerance can safely eat this aged cheese. A nice bonus: the protein is absorbed much better than the protein in other dairy products.
- A loan for cheese. In the north of Italy, there are banks where you can get a loan, leaving Parmesan as collateral. This method of lending has been used since the 1950s. The most famous of the banks that provide cheese loans is Credito Emiliano. Here cheesemakers can get a loan at 3% per annum and at the same time be sure that special bank employees will take care of the cheese ripening process.
- The most expensive Parmesan. The cost of the cheese depends on the maturation period. So, the product 36 months of aging will cost significantly more than the classic 24 months. However, the most expensive is organic Parmesan from the mountainous regions. Its cost is about 40 euros per kilogram.
- The hero of the book. This product is mentioned in the famous book of the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson “Treasure Island”. One of its main characters, namely Dr. Livesey, keeps a piece of this cheese in his snuffbox as a talisman. Another hero of the book, finding himself on a desert island, dreams of cheese so much that he even sees it in dreams.
What Is the Best Parmesan Cheese? Here Are the Best Parmesan Brands
We have finally approached the most interesting part: what are the best real parmesan cheese brands and where to find high quality parmesan cheese? Here is the list of top grated parmesan cheese brands that will help you understand who makes the best grated parmesan cheese. We will also mention several brands that offer the best store bought parmesan cheese, non-grated. The majority of products are not too cheap, but it is impossible to buy a high-quality product for cheap.
- Milano’s Imported Parmesan Cheese. Shaker top jar, highest quality grated Italian cheese products, consistency in every jar – that’s what you will get having chosen it.
- Italian Grana Padano. Aged for a minimum of 9 months, the origin of Grana Padano dates back to the Cistercian monks of the Chiaravalle Abbey. From the polders of northern Italy, the cheese is produced with milk from free-range cows that are let to graze on fresh forage and silage.
- 365 Everyday Value, Grated Parmesan Cheese. This is a great option for vegetarians. The cheese is finely grated and establishes well in sauces.
- igourmet Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese. This product is an amazing choice for a cheese board or celebration platter. It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and is aged for 18-20 months for maximum flavor and taste.
What Is the Best Grated Parmesan Cheese Brand?
One cannot name the best parmesan cheese brand, as there are plenty of them, all having benefits and drawbacks. Our recommendation is to try several manufacturers to find out what you like more.
Is It Beneficial for Health?
In addition to the high nutritional value and calorie content, the health benefits of this product are well known. First of all, it is a source of natural protein and contains all the essential amino acids. It makes this product great even for those sticking to diets.