Is Parmesan and Reggiano Cheese the Same?

When it comes to Italian cuisine, there are few ingredients as beloved and versatile as Parmesan cheese. Its rich, nutty flavor adds depth to pasta dishes, salads, and even soups.

However, you may have come across another cheese called Reggiano that looks and tastes similar to Parmesan. So, is Parmesan and Reggiano cheese the same thing? Let’s find out!

The Origins of Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, originates from Italy and has a long history dating back over 900 years. It is traditionally made in specific regions of Italy using only three ingredients: cow’s milk, salt, and rennet.

The Production Process

The production process of Parmesan involves several steps that contribute to its unique flavor and texture. First, fresh cow’s milk is heated and mixed with rennet to coagulate it. The resulting curds are cut into small pieces before being cooked at a precise temperature.

Next, the curds are placed into molds where they are pressed for a period of time. This helps remove any remaining whey and creates the characteristic wheel shape of Parmesan cheese.

After being removed from the molds, the wheels are soaked in brine for several weeks to enhance their flavor. Finally, they are aged for a minimum of 12 months before they can be sold as genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano.

What About Reggiano Cheese?

Reggiano cheese is another name for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. In fact, “Parmigiano-Reggiano” is the full name used to refer to this cheese in Italy, while “Parmesan” is the anglicized version of the name. The term “Reggiano” simply refers to the region of Italy where it is produced, which includes the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and parts of Bologna and Mantua.

The Qualities of Parmigiano-Reggiano

Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has certain qualities that set it apart from other types of cheese. Its texture is hard and grainy, making it perfect for grating over dishes. The flavor is intense and complex, with a balance of savory and slightly sweet notes.

Imitations and Counterfeits

Unfortunately, due to the popularity and high price of genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, there are many imitations and counterfeits on the market. These cheeses often use similar names or terms like “Parmesan” or “Parmigiana,” hoping to deceive consumers into thinking they are buying the real thing.

How to Identify Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano

If you want to ensure you are buying authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, look for specific markings on the rind. Genuine wheels will have the words “Parmigiano-Reggiano” embossed around the edge. They will also have a unique identification number on top that indicates when and where they were produced.

In Conclusion

Parmesan and Reggiano cheese are indeed the same thing! Parmesan is merely an anglicized term for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Both names refer to a specific type of Italian cheese that is made in a particular region using traditional methods. So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, make sure to look for the authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano to truly enjoy the rich flavors of this iconic cheese.