Parmigiano Reggiano 24 months
An intense taste
Parmigiano Reggiano is a highly concentrated cheese: it contains only 30% water and 70% nutrients. Parmigiano Reggiano is therefore rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals and creates a true taste explosion in the mouth. When making the cheese, it is placed in saturated brine for twenty days, resulting in a delicious savoury taste. Because of the characteristic white dots that are visible in the Parmesan cheese, also called crystals, many people think that this cheese is very salty. This is, however, not the case. During the ripening process, substances are created that enhance the taste, making it appear saltier than it really is.
Parmigiano Reggiano is not a mass product; it is made in small-scale companies according to a complicated, traditional recipe that has been followed for centuries. In the region of Parma there are 512 small cheese factories that produce the cheese. Together, they deliver no fewer than 2.9 million cheeses a year. That equates to approximately 10-11 cheeses per year per cow.
Due to the long ripening process, Parmigiano Reggiano is expensive; it is also sometimes called edible gold. There is even a bank in Italy, the Credem bank, which uses the large Parmesan cheese wheels as collateral for loans. But because of the strong taste and the fact that the cheese is easy to grate, you don’t need much of it to add flavour to a dish.
An abundance of dishes
Apart from the fact that the cheese is very tasty, its other great advantage is that it has a very long shelf life, without loss of taste. The hard structure allows it to be shaved or grated - for example, as a gratin topping for dishes, to sprinkle over pasta or as a component in pesto. A special cheese grinder or Microplane can be used for this. It is also a delicious seasoning when used in very thin slices over salads, with only olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Modena, or over Carpaccio with rocket and pine nuts. Melanzane alla Parmigiana (with aubergine and tomato sauce) is a famous Italian dish with Parmigiano Reggiano as a vital component.
A strictly controlled product
In Italy, everything is done to protect the quality of the many famous delicacies from the home country. The production of Parmigiano Reggiano is carefully managed by the 'Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano'. This organisation is responsible for the many quality marks that are used and the categories in which the cheese can be placed. Each cheese has a number from which the original cheese maker can be verified.