Feb 1, 2015
Parmigiano, not your average parmesan
It takes 16 liters of grass-fed cow's milk to make a single wheel of Parmigiano. And many months to age it to perfection. During this time each wheel is placed on wooden shelves that are cleaned manually every 7 days. At 12 months, the ruling consortium inspects each and every cheese wheel. The rounds are tested by a master grader whose only instruments are a hammer and his expert ear. By tapping the wheel in various points, he can identify undesirable inaccuracies within. Those cheeses that pass the test are then heat branded on the rind with the consortium's logo.
What's known to the English-speaking world simply as Parmesan, is locally called parmigiano, but the actual name is grana, and it is probably Italy's single most recognized specialty. Still produced according to an eight-century-old method with the same ingredients and techniques.
Yet not all grana is created equal.
There's Grana Padano and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Both are made in the same way and in more or less the same area. They share a similar color, aroma and flavor nuances. But they're not identical. And the slight variation — regulated by official monitoring — makes all the difference.
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