Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. It is one of the most popular and widely used cheeses in the world.
Parmesan cheese is known for its unique flavor and texture, which can be attributed to the way it is made and aged. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Parmesan cheese so special.
The History of Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese has been produced in Italy for over 800 years. The first recorded mention of Parmesan cheese dates back to the 13th century, when it was referred to as “caseus parmensis” in a document from the city of Parma. The production of Parmesan cheese has remained largely unchanged over the centuries, with many cheesemakers still using traditional methods to produce this beloved cheese.
The Making of Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese is made from raw cow’s milk that has been partially skimmed. The milk is heated and mixed with rennet to form curds.
The curds are then cut into small pieces and left to settle before being placed into molds. After being removed from the molds, the cheese is brined in salt water for several weeks before being aged.
The aging process is what sets Parmesan cheese apart from other cheeses. Parmesan cheese must be aged for a minimum of 12 months, but many varieties are aged for much longer – up to 36 months or more. During this time, the cheese develops its distinctive flavor and texture.
Parmesan cheese has a rich, nutty flavor with hints of saltiness. Its complex flavor profile makes it an ideal ingredient for a wide range of dishes.
The texture of Parmesan cheese is another defining characteristic. It is hard and crumbly, but also has a slightly grainy texture that melts in the mouth. This unique texture makes it perfect for grating over pasta dishes or salads.
Uses for Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. It is commonly grated over pasta dishes, but can also be used in soups, stews, and even desserts. Here are some popular ways to use Parmesan cheese:
- Grate it over pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara or fettuccine Alfredo
- Use it as a topping for salads or roasted vegetables
- Add it to soups and stews for extra flavor
- Use it to make cheesy dips and spreads
- Incorporate it into your favorite baked goods like breads or biscuits
Parmesan cheese is a beloved ingredient that has been enjoyed for centuries. Its unique flavor and texture make it a staple in kitchens around the world.
Whether grated over pasta or used in soups and stews, Parmesan cheese adds depth and complexity to any dish. So next time you’re in the grocery store, pick up some Parmesan cheese and see what delicious creations you can come up with!