Popular parmesan cheese from Italy. Complete information and points of interest in one place

Do you like cheese, especially Italian cheese?

One of them is parmesan cheese, which is mainly used in pasta or salads.

What it is made of and how it is made, what are the types, what are its uses in the kitchen and much more, you will learn in our article.

What exactly is parmesan?

Parmesan cheese, often mispronounced as “parmesan” (Parmigiano-reggiano in Italian), is a hard, matured cow’s milk cheese that is mainly used in grated form. The original cheese is produced in a precisely defined region in Italy, which includes the cities of Parma, Modena and Mantua and part of Bologna.

The official name, along with the year of production of the cheese, is printed on the rind of approximately 34 kilogram cylinders. A hard, brownish-golden rind surrounds a golden interior with a grainy texture that becomes brittle with age. Parmesan cheese is only produced from April to November and must be aged for at least two years. It has a rich, spicy flavor at this age. Freshly grated parmesan cheese has significantly more flavor than ungrated parmesan cheese.

Grated Italian parmesan cheese.
Source: mozmeat.com

Nutritional values of Parmesan cheese (per 100 g)

Parmesan cheese has both positive and negative nutritional qualities. Among the positive values are the content of high-quality protein (28 g per 100 g of cheese), as well as a high content of vitamins (B12, A, B2) and a high content of minerals (phosphorus, calcium, selenium and zinc).

Energy value Carbohydrates Sugar Fats Proteins Salt
420 calories 13.91 g 0.07 g 27.84 g 28.42 g 4.51 g


Parmesan contains more than 12 vitamins. The most represented is vitamin B12 (about 58% of the daily recommended dose), followed by vitamin A (29%) and vitamin B2 (28%).

Vitamin B1 0.026 mg
Vitamin B2 0.358 mg
Vitamin B3 0.080 mg
Vitamin B5 0.450 mg
Vitamin B6 0.081 mg
Vitamin B12 1,400 µg
Vitamin A 262,000 RAE


Parmesan contains more than 10 minerals. The most represented is phosphorus (about 90% of the daily recommended dose), followed by calcium (85%), selenium (63%), zinc (38%) and sodium (120%).

Calcium 853 mg
Iron 0.490 mg
Magnesium 34 mg
Phosphorus 627 mg
Potassium 180 mg
Sodium 1804 mg
Zinc 4.2 mg
Copper 0.040 mg
Manganese 0.071 mg
Selenium 34,400 µg

Production of Parmesan cheese

As already mentioned, it is made from unpasteurized raw cow’s milk. Cows are fed grass and in winter dehydrated grass and hay are added to the feed. During production, cheesemakers mix unpasteurized milk with whey starter and rennet. Each cheese loaf has a diameter of 40-45 cm and a thickness of 18-24 cm. The average weight of a wheel of cheese is 39.9 kg, while one kg of cheese requires approx. 13.5 liters of milk. About 520 liters of milk are used to make Parmigiano Reggiano.

The cheese is left to soak in a salt solution for up to 20 days. During the maturation period, each round of cheese is strictly controlled at the 12-month mark. If any of the cheeses has any defect, it loses its “Parmigiano-Reggiano” status. The aging period on wooden shelves lasts from 1 to 6 years.

Parmesan loaves maturing on shelves.
Source: winemag.com

What does Parmesan taste like?

The taste of Parmesan cheese is strong, slightly sharp, and the taste notes can vary slightly from slightly sour to nutty. The texture of the cheese is hard, crumbly, and older cheeses can even crunch, due to the formation of calcium lactate crystals.

Types of Parmesan

Parmesan cheese is generally the only type, but it is divided into classes according to age:

  • 12 months=nuovo
  • 24 months=vecchio
  • 36 months=stravecchio
  • 48 months=stravecchione
  • 72 months=extra stravecchione

However , Parmigiano Reggiano extra stravecchione aged for 72 months is extremely rare, as few producers allow the cheese to age for that long.

Types of Parmesan according to ripening time.
Source: kitchenstories.com

Parmesan composition

Parmigiano Reggiano has the following composition: Fat in dry matter min. 32%, Dry matter 70%

Package of Parmesan with a maturation period of 1 year.
Source: nakup.itesco.cz

History of Italian Parmesan

One can read about the first mentions from the middle of the 13th century, while its history is written in northern Italy in the Emilia-Romagna region. It came about because medieval monks in monasteries pondered for a long time how to preserve milk for a longer period of time. So they decided to experiment and eventually figured out that the best way was a large loaf that dried for a longer time.

What to replace parmesan with?

It is known that the original parmesan has its own specific taste and it is not so easy to replace it without changing the taste of the whole dish. If you don’t have parmesan on hand at the moment or it can’t be bought in your area, replace it with the cheese of your taste. Grana Padano, Pecorino, Oscypek or classic edam are ideal.

Italian Parmiaggo-Reggino cheese.
Source: health.clevelandclinic.com

Storage and heat treatment of Parmesan cheese

How to store parmesan cheese

After opening the parmesan, it is important to store it in a spare container that seals so that it does not dry out too much or catch mold

  • If you wrap it in a cotton bag, the cheese will not catch mold, but it will dry out faster and it can also absorb other odors.
  • If you close it in a box or wrap it in foil, the cheese will retain its taste and aroma, but it will be more susceptible to mold.
  • The longer your Parmesan cheese has matured, the longer it will resist mold. Always keep it in the fridge!

How to melt parmesan cheese

Since Parmesan cheese contains almost no water, it will retain its shape after heat treatment. Unlike cheeses with a high water content, such as mozzarella , Parmesan will never completely melt and will have a semi-liquid to thick consistency. However, this does not prevent its heat treatment. It is excellent in cream sauces, in baked potatoes or pasta or in baked baguettes.

How to use parmesan cheese in the kitchen?

There are many ways to process Parmesan cheese. Thanks to its traditional taste, it is used in creamy pasta and gnocchi, creamy risotto, but it is also suitable for salads (Ceasar salad) or in baguettes, sandwiches and wraps. You can also add it to baked potatoes or you can wrap the meat in grated Parmesan cheese, which gives you excellent meat in a crispy batter after frying.

Milan & Ondra

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