is Parmigiano Reggiano the Same as Parmesan?

is Parmigiano Reggiano the Same as Parmesan?

Parmesan is one of the most popular cheeses in the world and has many uses. Superb in dishes, a cheeseboard, or a quick snack on its own. In this article, we look at whether Parmigiano Reggiano is the same as Parmesan, as well as how it is produced and other similar substitutes.

What is Parmigiano Reggiano?

Parmigiano Reggiano is the traditional Italian name for Parmesan. It is a PDO (meaning Protected Destination of Origin) cheese. Invented during the Middle Ages and is a hard cheese made with cow’s milk, matured for 12-40 months. It is dry and crumbly in texture, however rich, salty and even sharp in flavour. It is a cheese ideal for grating. Parmigiano Reggiano is named ‘The King of Cheeses’.

What is Parmigiano Reggiano?

To be classified as Parmigiano Reggiano, it must be created in one of the 4 following regions in Italy. These include Bologna, Mantua, Modena and Parma.
To understand whether your cheese has come from one of these regions, Parmigiano Reggiano will be engraved across the rind. The cheese must come from one of these four protected regions. Parmigiano Reggiano is a protected cheese. (PDO or DOP in Italian). There are certain law which protect the production of the cheese and when the name can be used.

parmigiano reggiano
Traditional Parmigiano Reggiano has its name engraved on the rind.

There are many imitations of the cheese all around the world, for example, countries including the US have created their version, as importing traditional Parmigiano Reggiano is costly. These imitation cheeses are legally allowed to call themselves ‘Parmesan’ but not ‘Parmigiano Reggiano’.

What is Grana Padano?

Grana Padano is another cheese from the Parmigiano Reggiano family and is also PDO protected. It is matured for anytime between 9-20 months. Milder and less intense in flavour, Grana Padano is an excellent substitute for Parmigiano Reggiano.

Both Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano are produced with unpasteurised, skimmed cow’s milk. ‘Grana’ translates to mean grain, and this refers to the technique used during cheese-making. It is the process of milling down the curds until they are the size of a grain of rice. This ensures the maximum amount of moisture is released to form a dry, hard and crumbly cheese.

Therefore, this means that cheese from this family is lactose-free!

What is Pecorino Romano?

Pecorino Romano is also included in the Parmesan family as a dry hard crumbly cheese. Similarly, can be used as a substitute for Parmigiano Reggiano. However, it is made with ewe milk, therefore has a stronger, saltier, more intense flavour to it than Parmigiano Reggiano. It is only matured for 5-8 months, and primarily produced in the region of Sardinia.
Pecorino is more milky white, compared to Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano which tends to be buttery yellow.