PDO Parmigiano Reggiano is perhaps one of Italy's most internationally recognised delicacies and is it used in a multitude of traditional dishes from Italy.
This cheese has become an institution in the Emilia-Romagna region. The area where the cheese is produced covers in fact a good portion of the Emilia region, including the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena, and it extends also to some towns in the Bologna area (in addition to few towns in the Mantova province in Lombardy). Its origins can also be traced back to the land of Emilia-Romagna.
In the twelfth century, Benedictine and Cistercian monks from Parma and Reggio Emilia were the first to pioneer what would become the technique used to make Parmigiano Reggiano, taking advantage of the abundance of milk they had available to make a hard cheese that was cooked in furnaces.
Still to this day, PDO Parmigiano Reggiano, which contains cow's milk, is cooked before being salted and is then left to ripen on wooden tables. This maturation process has to be slow, and can take from 12 months to 24 months and more.
At the end of the ripening process, the rind on the wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano is fire-branded with the characteristic stamp. Controlling the quality of these wheels is responsibility of the Consorzio del Parmigiano-Reggiano, which groups together all the dairies that produce this prized cheese.
Do you want to see and partecipate to the production process of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese? Caseifici Aperti provides a great opportunity to do so. This is an open-day event organised by the consortium where you can come face to face with dairy workers and buy their products on site. Instead, for a tasting experience, go to the Parmigiano Reggiano festival in Casina, not far from Reggio Emilia, where you can taste a variety of dishes made with this speciality.
PDO Parmigiano Reggiano is naturally lactose-free, protein-rich and high in vitamins and minerals.
This cheese works beautifully with jams, honey and balsamic vinegar, or crumbled into flakes and sprinkled over a salad. In the Emilia-Romagna region, this mature cheese is traditionally added in its grated form to a whole host of dishes, such as passatelli pasta served in broth.