This should be everyone's takeaway point from the article. The generic term "parmesan" means nothing. Don't buy it unless it actually says "Parmigiano-Reggiano", as that guarantees at least some minimum level of quality (fraud notwithstanding).
I'd also suggest that anyone with a Costco membership should grab a wedge from there. You'll pay $18 or so for a chunk of quality stuff that will last you about six months. It's very, very resilient to mold.
As with all cheeses, "parmesan" labeled cheeses will also vary in quality. Go for what your wallet + taste buds tell you to pick. There really are good quality "parmesan" brands out there. Maybe not the cheapest stuff in your grocery store, but as long as you know what you're getting...
I have a philosophy: if it's made from real milk and by craftspeople who respect the product and the customer, then DOP is not necessarily the only marker of quality cheese.
edit: Here's an anecdote: A few months ago I travelled to the USA (Detroit) for a friend's wedding. Most of the food after the ceremony was from local producers, either acquaintances or good friends of the couple. My friend (who is also not from the USA) told me to try some of the charcuterie and cheeses on one of the tables and to tell him what I thought (we're both from Spain). The parmesan on that table was just perfect. Obviously not the real deal, but you could see the texture: the crumbly-ness (is that a word?), the little crystals cracking in your mouth, the aroma... I would not have guessed it was local produce. The same goes for the cured meats (some chorizo, and some cured ham, with a profile somewhere in between serrano and prosciutto). Really good stuff, and definitely not DOP.
I was served something marked as 'Gruyere' in the US, and it was a bright white, liquid-paste-like substance which oozed out of a foil triangle, basically a generic processed cheese product unrelated to Gruyere. So if you buy something marked as Parmesan, presumably, it could be almost anything with a dairy base. There must be good products, but the name doesn't seem to be a guarantee of anything.
Some cheeses like the one you mentioned, I can see a need for caution, but I can generally look at a block of parmesan and tell whether its going to be great or mediocre.
The packaging is relevant because its impossible to make the same mistake with Parmesan cheese because if it looks like a block of parmesan cheese its going to taste very similar to parmigiano-reggiano.
I don't recall ever saying that its the same thing as officially certified and/or marketed parmigiano-reggiano. Perhaps you should read comments and the comments they were responding to more closely.
If you make a copy, and you are proud how good it is, make it clear and add what makes yours so special. The discussion it seems is more about cheaper knock-offs that many people don't distinguish from original because they don't know exact words in names and other signs to look for. These often come with subpar ingredients and additives/conservants as noted in the article - which is something many people are concerned about, even if taste is OK.
EU might be a pile of crap in many aspects, but protection of local, traditional products is definitely something I support and it seems to be done well.
Im not sure if every times a brand describes a cheese as Parmesan they are trying to be misleading or trick people into thinking its from Europe, they are just describing it in a way that aligns with Americans expectations.
For sure not everybody but sure some do and for sure if you can make people think "this looks like the original stuff but at a nice price" that is a boon for your sales. You do not need to lie for this, often just having a not crappy design for the packaging is enough, since people often (and rightly so) don't really know what they want.
As an Italian we can get a bit emotional on this (and I truly think that some imitations are truly worthy of their own respect) but there is value in distinguishing a DOP brand, eg it make manufacturing much more accountable for the quality of their products.
Interestingly enough, the only Parmigiano-Reggiano on the shelf was BelGioioso. I went "oh shit, they were right, there is some tomfoolerly in advertising." Then I noticed they actually were importing it from Italy. They had a block of Parmigiano Reggiano right next to a block of Parmesan from WI.
Once I looked at the two though, I dont think anyone could make the claim they were trying to be tricky. The Parmesan was labeled Parmesan. The import was all fancy, had IMPORTED stamped all over it, they were using it as a selling point to differentiate between the two.
As for the results, the BelGioioso Parmesan was easily the worst of the three. BUT, it was also half the price of the Satori Montamore Cheddar/Parmesan and Satori Sarvecchio Parmesan.
Jesus Christ you almost gave me a heart attack
Boy am I happy to have gotten over that snobbishness! Apart from many American dishes that blew me away macaroni and cheese wasn’t one of it (since it’s not served in US diners ... i think). So I tried it out at home (leftover noodles and some cheese) and I have to say: it was really good. The melt is perfect. I don’t know of any technique capable of merging noodles with melted cheese in such an immersive way other than with a microwave (radiating oven heat will have a different effect).
The above phrase would be considered akin to hate speech in Italy.
I'd personally go for a Parmesan knockoff from a farm certified for animal welfare, rather than the PDO with shadows over the quality of the milk used.
Check out section H - https://1sskha48hhbhl0oc61bhsagh-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-...
They won first place in America and the World this year. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th came from Wisconsin at world. 5th and 7th from Italy. And there are 6 different companies from Wisconsin represented on that list. NY, SD, IA, and MD are the only other states represented.
Wisconsin can most certainly get a protected origin mark, if they like.
It's like McDonalds vs. a diner. You know exactly what you get when you got to a McDonalds; it will be essentially identical all over the country. Going to a diner may be amazing, or it may be shit.
John Cleese talking about the differences between the UK and USA
Cool. How about they stand on their own feet and you folks stop lying about and mislabeling products?
It's also quite obvious that Italy is not the only place good cheese comes from. The UK and France at the very least are in the running.
Apart from the demented indications (the "Parmesan" is aged far too little to allow grating) and recipes (e.g. Aglio e Olio spaghetti, the most inappropriate place to put grated cheese of any type on), these wheels are seriously tiny, presumably for industrial production reasons.
It would be nice to find details about their production process, especially what they do with cream.
PDO can be problematic, especially when there is terroir which can only be used by a limited number of companies who are granted the mark. It's still a mark I look for, now that I know better. In many ways it acts the same as trademark, ensuring that the purchaser gets the real article. There's no reason to believe that the best example of a product comes with a PDO, but it is at least a very high minimum standard.
Once it has been cut from the wheel, the usable life will be a few weeks maybe a couple months max if properly stored. While it may not mold, it will desiccate and become hard and waxy. You might not be able to tell if you're just grating it finely, but if you're cutting off slivers it will taste different when it's been sitting for too long in the fridge.
Local Italian and gourmet groceries sell it for about the same price as Costco. The advantage over Costco is that you get it cut from the wheel in whatever quantity you want, in front of you and you're not buying it as shrink-wrapped wedge.
Totally true. That's why, when I buy it, I eat a small piece everyday.
in genera both tastes ok even when they dry out, albeit they gets saltier; if one eats cheese slowly, I'd suggest to get one relatively younger (i.e. 9 months) so as the flavor matures it doesn't get overly strong.
they both contain a lot of cholesterol and lot of calories, so I wouldn't call them miracle food, but they do have some nice properties, like they're some of the few cheeses that are suitable for lactose intolerant people (still not for lactose allergic people but ymmv) which makes them a good source of calcium.
Salt is a preservative.
Call me cynical, DPOs seem abused and more about protecting regional industries as apposed to guaranteeing quality for consumers.
For instance, pulling from this article:
>In the highly sanctioned world of Parmigiano-Reggiano, cows graze in pastures; their diet must consist of at least 75 percent local grass. Here in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t mandate diet, and cows typically aren’t pastured; manufacturers reported using various feeds, including hay, corn, soybeans, and grains.
> Another factor: raw versus pasteurized milk. In Italy, Parmigiano-Reggiano is always made from raw milk. In the States, the milk is typically pasteurized first. This step kills off potentially dangerous organisms and yields a more consistent product. The downside? The heating process also kills off flavorful microorganisms.
>The aging step affects both flavor and texture. Once the wheels come out of the salt bath, they’re set on racks in climate-controlled rooms to age. As the cheese sits, lactic acid forms, and the acid causes proteins in the cheese to squeeze together, which in turn forces out moisture. Parmigiano-Reggianos are required to age for at least 12 months, though most are left for 24. Meanwhile, the FDA mandates a minimum of just 10 months for Parmesan. Thus, the domestic cheeses tended to be rubbery, while the imports were dry and crumbly.
So again, you could make a hard cheese that follows none of the requirements but still tastes pretty good. You could also make a Parmigiano-Reggiano that tastes like crap. But if you follow all of the standards, you will more likely come alot closer to replicating the taste of what we associate with Parmigiano-Reggiano than a vat of hard cheese that some guy cooked up in his basement. The standards are specifically there to curtail the shortcuts (less aging, lower-quality ingredients) that unscrupulous companies try to sneak into their cheeses and market as premium, "aged" Parmesan.
Do you keep it in the fridge, wrapped, what?
How do you store it so it lasts so long?
- Keep it in a sealed container, otherwise it'll dry out completely in a couple weeks and become inedible
- Put a single folded-up paper towel in the sealed container to absorb gradual amounts of moisture that come out. Otherwise condensation will form on the cheese and mold will grow quickly
- Replace the paper towel with a new one every 2 weeks (it'll be slightly damp)
- Keep the hunk solid (don't pre-cut) and always grate/shave from the "oldest" area. Mold only grows on the surface, so as long as you're using it once every week or two, the surface doesn't exist for too long, so zero mold
- Cut off the rind before any of this, since otherwise it would accumulate mold eventually. Save rinds in the freezer until you make minestrone or another appropriate soup, and cook with them -- they'll stay solid but the soup will absorb all the flavor from the rind, and then you fish it back out at the end
Maybe it sounds like a lot of work, but a $50 chunk can last half the year if you're using it by yourself every couple days for scrambled eggs, simple pastas, shavings on salads, and so on. It turns out to be a pretty affordable luxury.
Before I had that, I would usually wrap the cheese in a layer of wax paper, followed by a layer of foil, and put that in the freezer, taking it out as I needed it. Hard cheeses in the freezer will turn white and may no longer be useful to eat shards of on their own, but they're still fine for grating and melting.
Eat the rind or not?
I do, only after the rest is gone.
This is how my family does it :)
And there's an effort from Wisconsin that is apparently very good:
It boils down to what you use the cheese for. If you just want to grate it on some pasta, you can use whatever. If you are making tortellini, you better use the 36-month cheese from your casaro (cheese maker).
Edit: Compare the picture of the cheese you link to this one: http://www.caseificioboiardo.it/en/eshop/parmigiano-reggiano...
You can notice right away that the cheese has a different consistency. The American clone is smoother (it looks almost like plastic). The 12-month Parmigiano Reggiano (the youngest "age" that the cheese can be sold as PR) is textured. That signals that the amount of moisture in the American clone is off and that will effect the aging of the cheese and ultimately its taste.
Generally, cows are kept in barns and are usually tied to a rail. This is what I have in mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZij6ZpBwSo&t=3m12s or this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ili9d4OmURk&t=1m3s
As far as I know, cows have been traditionally kept like that, as old barns have a similar set up.
It looks like ciwf is advocating for milk cows to be grazing. I don't think that it is feasible given the current economic and geographical limitations of the Parmiginao Reggiano production zone. Economically, making cheese is barely profitable, with most farmers just making it. Most of the cheese is sold in bulk to wholesalers in the form of "futures". They buy the whole production for a year (for example) before the cheese is ready. That allows the cheese maker to pay the farmers in advance but that also makes it so they can't demand much for the cheese. The other option is to wait and try to sell it directly but they run the risk of not selling the whole stock (also, consider that the cheese as a very short shelf life, as once a cheese form is open it needs to be sold).
Geographically, there isn't really much space for grazing cows. The pianura padana is probably one of the most densely populated areas in Italy. Plus, it is also where most Italian industry is located. I don't think it would be possible to find enough space for all the cows even if it were economically viable.
I can — they are quite different cheeses. Apart from the different taste and texture (Grana Padano has reliably less taste, and is dryer and more crumbly), I am extremely allergic to Grana Padano: after eating even a tiny piece my throat will swell up and slowly constrict (not life threatening, I think, but definitely uncomfortable). Parmigiano Reggiano doesn’t elicit the same reaction. It’s a very reliable, albeit unpractical, way of telling the two apart. Either way, this indicates that they are distinct on a fundamental level.
(Just to clarify: this allergy obviously isn’t specific to Grana Padano, it affects plenty of other dairy products. And, as far as I can tell, seems to be against some by-product of the fermentation that is only present in some dairy products and not others.)
Maybe you lack a sense of smell? Seriously you don't even have to put it in your mouth it already smells quite different...
I buy the cheapest imported stuff here in eastern europe and the difference is...well they're two different types of cheese. They just taste different.
There's another cheese, Pecorino Romano, that's distinctly salty and really good on Carbonara.
"Is it Cheddar that tastes like Parmesan or Parmesan that tastes like Cheddar? Even though it's indescribable, we know you'll fall in love with this creamy, white wonder."
"If there's any doubt about the matter, he is," returned the doctor. "A man who has been three years biting his nails on a desert island, Jim, can't expect to appear as sane as you or me. It doesn't lie in human nature. Was it cheese you said he had a fancy for?"
"Yes, sir, cheese," I answered.
"Well, Jim," says he, "just see the good that comes of being dainty in your food. You've seen my snuff-box, haven't you? And you never saw me take snuff, the reason being that in my snuff-box I carry a piece of Parmesan cheese--a cheese made in Italy, very nutritious. Well, that's for Ben Gunn!"
I've seen 2-3 articles in the last couple of days extolling the virtues (or deserved expense) of parmesan. I guess sales are down.
as well, these animals are apparently not well treated
Cow methane as a component of AGW is very over stated. Emissions have been extremely heavily researched by IPCC and ALL of agriculture is rated as contributing to about 15% of global greenhouse gases of human cause. Methane from cows, rice and many other sources is included and weighted in that measurement for its intensity and halflife but is commonly misinterpreted in articles about the subject.
There are serious welfare problems with over-intense and callous livestock farming. But the life of domesticated livestock is not inherently traumatic. Many farmers take pride in the manner they keep their stock which are domesticated to be as content as can be living under humans.
The act of slaughter is morally problematic for sure, but the stress of this one event can be minimised. Livestock can be shielded from awareness and don't consider such things the way humans can. Predation in nature involves running herds of prey to panic and exhaustion, and no less than frenzied violence. Farms animals could well appreciate in ways a less challenging existence.
In order to tackle the huge amount of animal cruelty present in modern farming, I think it is important to respect that many animal farmers are not actually cruel and that livestock farming does not necessarily mistreat animals.
Do you guys only eat food sourced from its place of origin 100% of the time? Nothing else will do?
Some prosciutto di Parma and Parmasean-reggiano is my last meal.
It makes me sad that we have to move the product around the world to consume it because it is just made at 1 precise location, emitting a lot of CO2.
That's the only thing?
And just because something was produced locally doesn't necessarily mean it has less carbon footprint than one produced halfway around the world.
> That's the only thing?
Yes. I did not specify time though. Let's say 8 hours.
Every week I had to grate this stuff to fill the repurposed glass Smuckers jar kept in the refrigerator for sprinkling on damn near everything.
Us kids were regularly being scolded for devouring the small chunk kept in the drawer, reserved for thinly sliced antipasto use.
This article however seems completely absurd to me. This cheese when grated is basically a dairy-derived flavorful salt substitute.
It is not a health food. You wouldn't tell someone they're practicing healthy eating when shaking salt over their spaghetti, they're doing basically the same thing with grated parmegian while adding more calories than salt alone would.
If you put a block of parm anywhere near me it'll be in my belly within the hour, but every time I do this my pants fit tightly for 2 days from all the retained water. It's a decadent treat I indulge in few times a year, to give myself a block of parm and eat it in one sitting. Mostly for the time machine effect of revisiting childhood. The linked article implies I should do it more often for positive health reasons, and I'm certain doing so would not improve my health one iota.
I haven't tried Grana Padano yet, but you can I will!