Feature

Parmesan cheese, please!

Green Lifestyle

Treat yourself to some truly tasty, authentic Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano-Reggiano, the King of the Cheese, is still identical to how it was hundreds of years ago, the same appearance and smell, made in the same way, in the same places, with the same expert ritual gestures.

Credit: Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium

King of the Cheese

This is the pin dot stamp and Parmigiano Reggiano logo on the rind of the wheel, showing the authenticity of the cheese.

Credit: Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium

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Parmesan cheese, or 'smelly cheese' as I used to call it when I was a kid, has an incredible history.

Attending a beautiful lunch prepared by passionate Italian chefs Luca Ciano and Gabriele Taddeucci, I had my mind opened to the wonderful world of parmesan, or more correctly, Parmigiano Reggiano.

There are so many 'parmesan cheeses' readily available, it really is beneficial to be able to recognise the authentic from the imitations, which are usually loaded with preservatives. Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano has a pin dot stamp on the rind and where appropriate, the Parmigiano Reggiano logo on the packet.

Parmesan cheese has been made by hand for over 900 years, and today, 373 dairies across a small region of Italy’s north use the same centuries-old rituals to create the cheese. It is produced from cows who are fed on locally grown forage, and the milk is delivered to the dairies within two hours of milking. The only ingredients added to the raw milk are salt and natural milk enzymes.

True Parmigiano Reggiano, known as the 'King of the cheeses', should be only 100 per cent naturally made with no additives or preservatives. Every wheel needs to be aged for a minimum of 12 months, the longest of any cheese. Real parmesan also has a distinct and unmistakable smell, a crumbly texture when cut, and should melt in the mouth. Parmesan is versatile and can be eaten in small chunks, used as a condiment grated on dishes or as an ingredient used in recipes.

We tried an 18-month parmigiano, a 24-month and a 36-month. The older the cheese, the sharper it is.

My favourite was the 24-month Parmigiano, it was still creamy but quite an intense tasting cheese, only needing a small amount to enjoy the flavours.

It was inspiring meeting Italian chef who was so passionate about parmesan... he says he can even hear the differences between the cheeses when they are crumbled next to his ear! Incredible.