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Parmigiano -Reggiano: The King of Cheese

We’ll be cracking a wheel of  Parmigiano-Reggiano early on the morning of Sunday, January 25th and the fresh cheese will be our Super Awesome One Day Deal for that day!  Save $9/lb!

Parmigiano -Reggiano is widely considered “The King of Cheeses.” Its name is a protected designation of origin in Europe. Parmigiano-Reggiano is made in the areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena (also known for its fabulous Balsamic vinegar) Bologna and Emilia Romagna. Only cheeses made in these areas and made with specific ingredients and aging times can carry the name Reggiano-Parmigiano. Parmesan is the French adjective for the Parmigiano and is used in the U.S.A. as the name for various hard cheeses. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the real deal, top of the line, A#1 grating cheese! It really doesn’t get any better that this.

Parmigiano is made from raw cow’s milk. The cows must graze on the grass of the area and are fed hay as part of their diet. Their local grass gives the cheese its distinctive nutty flavor. The whole milk from the morning milking and the skimmed milk from the previous evening’s milking are mixed and the leftover cream from the skimmed milk is used to make mascarpone.

After the cheese is aged for 12 months, an inspector from the Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspects each wheel, using a small hammer. They will hit the cheese in various spots and listen to hear if there are fissures inside the cheese. No fancy electronic equipment necessary, in Italy they do things old school! All cheeses that pass the inspection are branded with the Consorzio’s seal. All cheeses that fail are stripped of all markings, a sad fate for a cheese that aspires to greatness. The cheese that passes the test is then left to age for another year. These master cheese makers are not playing around!

Parmigiano-Reggiano is lower in fat and sodium and higher in vitamins and minerals than most cheese. It contains 19 of 21 amino acids the body needs, and a 1 ounce serving provides as much as 30% of a person’s RDA for calcium. Parmigiano contains more protein than most meats and contains other essential vitamins and minerals such as, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and copper.

Parmigiano is traditionally used as a topping on pasta and soups,but in the areas of Modena and Parma, chunks are eaten with splashes of balsamic vinegar, nuts and wine. Parmigiano is also delicious eaten with honey, and don’t you dare throw away the rind! It is sublime when added to soups and broths. Just use it as you would a soup bone.