Parmesan Cheese in English and Parmiagiano Reggiano in Italian, can only be made in certain Italian regions.
The cheese is named after the region that it is produced in, Emilia-Romagna, a region in Northern Italy which includes areas such as Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna.
It has Protected Designation of Origin and as such only cheese from the Emilia-Romagna area in Italy may carry the name Parmaigiano Reggiano or Parmesan Cheese.
Parmesan is the French word for the cheese and from there made its way as the most commonly used English term.
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Parmesan Cheese is aged for two years
Parmesan cheese is made from mixing raw cows milk of the day with skimmed milk from the previous day’s milking resulting in a part skimmed milk mixture. Half a ton of milk is needed to produce each wheel of cheese.
The milk can only come from grass or hay fed cows.
The milk goes through a process that includes using a starter whey, calf rennet (enzymes which help solidify the cheese) and heating to produce a compact curd which is poured into moulds and begins to take on the shape of the final product..
The wheels sit in a salt bath for a month before moving on to the drying and ageing process, salt is the only additive that is used in the process.
Parmesan Cheese is aged for 24 months before it makes its way onto supermarket shelves. During the ageing process they need to be turned regularly (every two weeks) to prevent mould from growing on the them.
True Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has a sharp, complex fruity/nutty taste with a strong savoury flavour and a slightly gritty texture. Inferior versions can impart a bitter taste.
Apparently Parmesan Cheese is the most shop lifted item in Italy.
Watch the video to see the whole process of making Parmesan Cheese in action.