You’re very familiar with parmesan cheese on pasta. But did you know that parmesan cheese is used in many other dishes as well? They’re considered a substitute for salt and they help add flavor to your meals.
The best parmesan cheese does not come grated in bottled packaging. The ones you want to look out for are the sliced wedges sold by the pound or in wheels if you need a bigger size. This guide will help you differentiate the two types of parmesan cheese, what the best ones in the market are, and where to get them so you’ll know which cheese you can use to turn your pasta and other dishes tastier.
- Best Parmesan Cheese On The 2021 Market
- #1. Italian Grana Padano
- #2. Caseificio 3090 28-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano
- #3. Consorzio Vacche Rosse (Red cows) – Parmigiano Reggiano
- #4. iGourmet Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio (3 Year Aged)
- #5. Alma Gourmet Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (5 pound)
- #6. Pastacheese Grana Padano Cheese 5 Pounds
- #7. Olio & Olive Parmigiano Reggiano
- What Is Parmesan Cheese?
- Parmesan Cheese Buying Guide
- FAQs on Parmesan Cheese
- - Is parmesan cheese vegetarian?
- - How is parmesan cheese made?
- - Where does parmesan cheese come from?
- - Is parmesan cheese gluten-free?
- - How much is parmesan cheese?
- - Where to buy parmesan cheese?
- - How to store parmesan cheese?
- - Is all parmesan cheese made in Italy?
- - Is there sawdust in parmesan cheese?
Best Parmesan Cheese On The 2021 Market
Italian’s Grana Padano is the go-to cheese for when you want to make risotto or stuffed vegetables. Their cheese may be expensive for a 1 pound cut, but the taste it brings to the table is authentic.
This Grana Padano is aged and matured for 18 months. It’s nutty and grainy and less salty than Parmigiano Reggiano which is very ideal for when you want to cook with a less salty taste.
Since the flavor it brings is delicate, Italian’s Grana Padano is the perfect cheese for your cheese boards or for when you want to make your dishes creamy but mild in flavor.
Made in Italy, Caseificio’s Parmigiano Reggiano is a good deal for when you want authentic parmesan cheese to be delivered to you in the United States. This 28-month aged cheese goes with different kinds of pasta and soups to make them more flavorful.
The aroma of Caseificio’s Parmigiano Reggiano is rich and the taste is creamy and nutty at the same time. Many say that they love having this cheese on cheese boards or with pears and grapes rather than cooked in their dishes. But either way, this cheese is delicious and what parmesan should be all about.
Consorzio Vacche Rosse’s Parmigiano Reggiano has a heavy aroma and taste that has cheese lovers swooning when tasting it. Though it has a rich nutty flavor, it also has a hint of sweetness to it.
Consorzio Vacche Rosse claims their Parmigiano Reggiano is seasoned for 48 months which is why their cheese is intense in smell and taste. They recommend accompanying this cheese in red wine or have it with honey.
The color of this cheese is straw-yellow. This is because it comes from cows that have a Unifeed-free diet of hay, cereals, and grass. Consorzio Vacche Rosse assures you that when you buy their cheese, you are getting a quality-made one for your consumption.
Make way for some good old 3-year aged parmesan cheese from iGourmet. It’s made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and has that full-bodied fruity yet salty taste that you love from a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. It’s perfectly paired with fruits but is also best grated unto dishes for that extra creamy and salty taste.
If you love parmesan cheese that has a crumbly, nutty, and sharp taste to it, you should try out iGourmet’s Parmigiano Reggiano Stravecchio.
Alma Gourmet’s 18-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano is an ideal cheese to make your meals creamy. Simply grate it over pasta or sauces to intensify the flavor of your dish.
This cheese is salty and nutty. It is also sold by 5 pounds rather than your usual 1 pound packaging. This is ideal for those who are looking to stock up on their cheese for personal consumption or catering use and also to save on shipping.
Alma Gourmet’s Parmigiano Reggiano is simply one good quality tasting cheese and is worth a try.
Light tasting dishes that call for parmesan cheese is best paired with Grana Padano. Luckily, Pastacheese has a delicious Grana Padano sold by 5 pounds. This cheese tastes less salty than Parmigiano Reggiano, but still has that sharp and nutty flavor that parmesan cheese is known for.
Pastacheese’s Grana Padano is best used in bread and salads as well. The texture may not be extra crumbly, but it’s not too hard to slice into either. All in all, Pastacheese may be your next go-to cheese if you want a mild and light tasting Parmigiano Reggiano.
Olio & Olive’s Parmigiano Reggiano is known to be a delicious parmesan cheese due to the fact that it was aged for 18 to 24 months. This hard cheese is best used in pasta that brings out the flavor and creaminess of the dish.
What we like about Olio & Olive’s parmesan cheese is the white crystal grains found on it which means it was aged well. There’s a sharpness to it and the texture is hard and crumbly. So if you’re looking for cheese to go on your cheeseboard, having Olio & Olive’s Parmigiano Reggiano would be a great addition along with fruits, crackers, and wine.
What Is Parmesan Cheese?
Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano Reggiano, is a hard cheese with a sharp, nutty and salty taste. It is made from unpasteurized cow's milk and has a strong aroma. Its color is straw yellow and is best paired with wine, crackers, fruits, or cooked in pasta sauces, risotto, and baked bread.
Parmigiano Reggiano is known as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese made in Italy. PDO cheese means that for it to be called parmesan cheese, it has to be produced in the place of origin which is Italy and from cows grazing on hay and grass. It should also be noted that Parmigiano Reggiano is named from the many provinces in which it is made such as Province of Parma, Modena, Mantua, Reggio Emilia, and Bologna.
- 2 Types of Parmesan Cheese
You might come across the words Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano while buying parmesan cheese. These are two types of parmesan you should be familiar with since they have a different taste and the areas where they were produced
Area of Origin: Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Emilia Romagna
Taste: Delicate and less nutty and salty than Parmigiano Reggiano
Area of Origin: Bologna, Parma, Modena, and Reggio Emilia
Taste: Nutty, salty, and strong flavor
There are also some concerns regarding the difference between Romano and parmesan cheese. Romano cheese is made in Rome’s countryside and uses sheep’s milk whereas Parmigiano Reggiano uses cow’s milk. Romano is aged from 8 months to 1 year while Parmigiano Reggiano is aged for 1 to 2 years. As for the taste, Romano is stronger and saltier than Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmesan Cheese Buying Guide
Now that you know the types of parmesan cheese to look out for, where they come from, and what they taste like, here are just a few tips in buying this cheese to suit your taste buds.
Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
As mentioned above, there are 2 types of parmesan cheese. One is mild while the other has a strong taste. Since not everyone likes sharp cheese, you can buy a Grana Padano to add to your dishes. But if you enjoy a strong-tasting cheese, you can go for a Parmigiano Reggiano.
Grana Padano is best on risotto, grilled vegetables, and other light dishes such as salads and seafood.
Parmigiano Reggiano is perfect for pasta bursting with creaminess and flavor. You can also add this to soups, bread, pizza, and other dishes that you’d like to add a bit of saltiness into.
Most authentic parmesan cheese is aged for 1 to 2 years. This ensures you have that unique sharpness and nutty flavor once it hits your taste buds. But parmesan cheese that ages longer for up 3 years is considered even more delicious since it’s sharper and has those white crystal grains that add to the crumbly and grainy texture that parmesan cheese is known for.
If you don’t mind having a grainy cheese, you can opt for the regular 1 year age maturity. But if you want that crumbly and sharp texture, buy the ones that are past the 2-year age maturity.
Not all parmesan cheeses are Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano. For instance, the once sold grated and in bottles might not be the real deal and will only provide saltiness to your pasta rather than flavor.
Choose to buy parmesan cheese sold in wedges rather than grated ones. Look for the rind attached and see if there is a stamp by the Consortium. These are signs that the parmesan cheese you bought is authentic stays true to its sharp and nutty taste.
Don’t be surprised to find expensive parmesan cheese. That’s usually one of the marks of authentic parmesan cheese. Great-tasting cheese is worth your money. So if you find parmesan cheese that’s quite cheap, check where it was manufactured and how long the aging process was. You don’t want to buy cheap and fake parmesan cheese.
If you happen to come across parmesan cheese in grocery stores, there might be some free taste options that allow you to sample the cheese before buying them. Taste the parmesan cheese to know whether they’re of high quality. It would have to be crumbly in texture rather than smooth. It would also taste grainy with that salty and sharp bite to it.
However, if you are buying online, you may just check the details on the description such as the number of years it was aged, where it came from, and the reviews of the product provided. The ones we mentioned above have a list of pros and cons for each item so you know what they taste like.
FAQs on Parmesan Cheese
If you still have a few questions regarding parmesan cheese, here are a few that might answer your inquiry.
- Is parmesan cheese vegetarian?
If you’re a vegetarian and looking to find cheese, parmesan is not for you. Parmigiano Reggiano is known to use rennet which is taken from a stomach lining of a calf.
However, if you need cheese, look for the soft ones such as paneer, cream cheese, Cotija or ricotta cheese.
- How is parmesan cheese made?
Parmesan cheese is made with only 3 ingredients which are cow’s milk, salt, and rennet. The process includes cooking these ingredients and splitting the milk into curds, and then transferred to molds where it will be stenciled, submerged into a brine bath, and aged for maturity. You may check out this video for more information on how parmesan cheese is made.
- Where does parmesan cheese come from?
As mentioned above, parmesan cheese exclusively comes from Italy mainly in the Province of Parma, Modena, Mantua, Reggio Emilia, and Bologna.
If you find any parmesan cheese that is not from these places, chances are that it’s fake.
- Is parmesan cheese gluten-free?
Parmesan cheese is considered gluten-free. Most cheeses are, but you should always read the label before buying cheese other than parmesan to be sure.
- How much is parmesan cheese?
Parmesan cheese is expensive because the production process involved is laborious. One wheel of parmesan cheese can cost more than $ 1,000.
- Where to buy parmesan cheese?
You can buy parmesan cheese in most grocery stores in the dairy section, but please check the label whether these are authentic or not. You may also visit deli stores since they cater to cheese specifically rather than a lot of items so chances are, the cheese they offer is real.
If you are unable to go to the deli or prefer shopping online, you may buy your cheese on the links provided above.
- How to store parmesan cheese?
Since parmesan cheese is considered a hard cheese, it will dry easily when it isn’t stored properly. To carefully store your cheese, wrap it in a plastic wrap tightly and refrigerate it.
Should you find your cheese already dry with a thick rind on the outer portion, simply use a damp cheesecloth and wrap it around your cheese. Afterward, wrap the whole thing in a plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a day. You may take out the cheesecloth after 24 hours and then wrap it in plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator.
- Is all parmesan cheese made in Italy?
All authentic parmesan cheese is made in Italy, specifically in the provinces mentioned above. Other parmesan cheeses that do not indicate their origin are not considered to be authentic.
- Is there sawdust in parmesan cheese?
Back in 2016, there was news of a cheese factory that they were mixing in cellulose along with their grated parmesan cheese. Cellulose is known as an anti-clumping agent that’s made from wood pulp. This has then sparked so many rumors that a lot of parmesan cheese included high levels of cellulose rather than real cheese.
Authentic parmesan cheese does not include sawdust. This is why buying the ones cut from the wheel is important than buying grated parmesan cheese. Not all grated parmesan cheese is made with sawdust, but it’s best to err on the side of caution and buy ones taken from the wheel and made from Italy.
Was this guide enough to make you want to order the best parmesan cheese online? Let us know what you think!