In the world of cheese, Parmesan is a beloved and versatile option. But have you ever wondered if Parmesan cheese is made with unpasteurized milk? Let’s dive into the details to find out.

Understanding Parmesan Cheese Production

Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard Italian cheese that has been produced for centuries. It is made from cow’s milk and has a distinct nutty flavor. To understand whether it is made with unpasteurized milk or not, we need to explore its traditional production process.

The Ingredients

The main ingredient in Parmesan cheese is cow’s milk. Traditionally, this milk comes from cows that graze on specific grasses and herbs in the region of Parma, Italy. The cows’ diet plays a crucial role in the flavor and quality of the cheese.

Fun Fact: Parmesan cows are not only fed grass but also receive additional feed such as hay and silage.

The Milk

When it comes to using unpasteurized milk in cheese production, it depends on regional regulations and traditions. In the case of authentic Parmesan cheese, unpasteurized milk is used.

Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, refers to milk that has not undergone pasteurization – a process where the milk is heated to kill harmful bacteria. By using unpasteurized milk, cheesemakers believe that they preserve the natural flavors and beneficial bacteria necessary for proper fermentation.

Note: Using raw or unpasteurized milk carries certain risks related to food safety. It can contain harmful bacteria like E.coli or Salmonella. Therefore, it is essential to consume raw milk products from trusted sources.

The Cheese Making Process

The process of making Parmesan cheese involves several steps, including:

  • Milk coagulation
  • Curd cutting and stirring
  • Curd cooking
  • Curd molding
  • Salt brining
  • Aging

Fun Fact: Parmesan cheese requires a minimum aging period of 12 months, but some producers age it for up to 36 months for an even richer flavor.

Parmesan Cheese and Pasteurization

While traditional Parmesan cheese is made with unpasteurized milk, it’s worth noting that there are variations of this cheese available worldwide. Some countries have regulations that require pasteurization of milk used in cheese production. This means that the Parmesan-style cheeses produced in those regions will use pasteurized milk.

Note: The use of pasteurized milk ensures the destruction of harmful bacteria, but it can also affect the taste and texture of the cheese.


In conclusion, authentic Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano is made with unpasteurized milk. However, variations produced in different regions may use pasteurized milk due to regulatory requirements. Whether you prefer the distinctive flavors of raw-milk cheeses or opt for pasteurized versions, make sure to choose reputable sources to ensure both quality and safety.

Remember: Always check the label or ask your cheesemonger if you want to be certain about whether a particular Parmesan cheese is made with unpasteurized milk or not.

Enjoy your Parmesan cheese!