Being cheesy has a very negative connotation until we talk about Parmigiano Reggiano. This is something that makes you say- the cheesier, the better!
Not only does it have a delectable taste but also comes low in fat, free of lactose and carbs. Its different age gives it different flavors, textures, and aromas. You would end up loving all the varieties.
Whether have the cheese itself or pair it with dishes, it’s indeed considered super versatile anyway.
Because there are lots of imitations available in the market, getting the best Parmigiano Reggiano can become challenging for you.
Hence, we’ve selected some options that ensure quality, taste, and authenticity.
Parmigiano Reggiano PDO Bonat
5 out of 5
Mitica, Parmigiano Reggiano
5 out of 5
Dietz & Watson Originals Parmigiano Reggiano
4.5 out of 5
Mitica Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 out of 5
Frank and Sal Italian Cheese
4.5 out of 5
What Is Parmigiano Reggiano?
Parmigiano Reggiano is an Italian cheese made from skimmed, unpasteurized cow milk, rennet, and salt. It has a lengthy aging process that ranges from 12 months to more than 48 months.
The nuances of such cheese vary based on its age. It can range from grassy and sweet to earthy and nutty. The flavors can be sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and bitter depending on the age.
When it comes to color, it can be from pale white or yellow to something deep and golden-dried.
While the younger one is soft, the more mature one becomes- the harder and grainier in texture it gets.
Parmigiano Reggiano Buying Guide
Be sure that the cheese has a PDO certification mark- that’s short for Protected Designation of Origin. This mark ensures the cheese is originated from Italy and has been produced by traditional methods.
The wrapping of the cheese should mention its PDO status. So, make sure to check the wrap.
Plus, the rind should be stamped with the fire-branded mark labeling “Parmigiano-Reggiano”. If you’re buying a pre-grated one, the packaging should have the consortium’s mark.
Pick cheese depending on your taste bud and preference. The texture and flavor can vary based on its age.
● 12 months
It should be aged at least 12 months to be called Parmigiano Reggiano. Because, only after a year, the cheese is tested and fire-branded.
In this state, you would find the cheese young, and lighter in color. It’s soft as well as creamy in texture. It should have flavors of fresh, buttery milk and creamy texture with slight notes of hay.
People preferring simple tastes would love the younger ones.
The flavor is still delicate that would attract people who love the creaminess. It has notes of fresh milk, wild herbs, and yogurt while being slightly sweet and sour. The color would be like a faint straw. And you would find it softer.
From 18 months to 23 months, the cheese exhibits very little of its youthfulness. There are hints of milk, fresh or dried fruit, and yogurt while having a well-marked lactic base. You would start to get that distinct aroma of Parmesan. Although the cheese is soft, it’s going to have a noticeable friability and graininess.
After 2 years, the Parmigiano Reggiano reaches the finest degree of ripeness. The number of white tyrosine crystals increases. Its aroma is stronger where the nutty hints join that of dried fruit.
It should have an ideal balance between salty, sweet, and spicy. The consistency is solid but it’s crumbly and grainy.
Cheese aged between 30 to 39 months has a more pronounced aroma and taste. It’s crumblier and grainier than others. Those crunch crystals become more apparent.
It has an amber color that becomes deeper with its maturity. Plus, the more it ages, the harder the consistency becomes.
The cheese has a nice balance between sweet, spicy, and salty. And it should have a smell of melted butter.
●Over 40 months
Notes of spices get stronger; the texture gets harder and grainier. The cheese has an intense and decisive aroma after 40 months of age. There are hints of toasted nuts, dried fruits, and hay.
3. Ingredients And Contents
Parmigiano Reggiano is made of only 3 ingredients. Cow’s milk, sea salt, and rennet. There shouldn’t be any other ingredients or additives.
The milk should be raw and unpasteurized. As for the rennet, it’s an enzyme produced by calves used to coagulate the milk and form a thick curd. So, all these ingredients are natural.
Typically, the cheese contains 70% of nutrients and 30% of water. Hence, it has high contents of proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Plus, it has around 9 grams of fat every ounce which is considered moderate for the cheese. Since the flavor is rich, you can use only a small portion and still, make the meal healthy and tasty.
4. Wedge Vs. Pre-Grated
It can be available in both wedge and pre-grated versions.
Wedge can be cut into smaller pieces and grated over dishes. You can have a piece individually, or melt it down and make the dish creamier. The only hassle is the manual effort during cutting or grating it.
In that case, you may opt for pre-grated cheese that eliminates the manual job. However, such cheese wouldn’t easily melt just like the freshly-grated ones. It might take time but would be worth waiting.
Our Recommended Top 5 Best Parmigiano Reggiano Reviews 2022
1. Parmigiano Reggiano from Bonat Farm
- Pungent and strong taste.
- Spicier notes.
- Very grainy texture.
A 48-month-old delight that connoisseurs would cherish. Bonat calls it their best Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and there are some good reasons.
Because the cheese is pretty senior, you would get a strong and complex taste from it. To be more precise, it has some nice spicy notes of nuts, dried fruit, and hay.
The cheese would be a suitable pick for the preparation of the main courses. You can make the most of its strong flavors by adding it to your roast beef, meat carpaccio, or hot smoked salmon.
However, it is hard when it comes to consistency. The structure is granular. So, it can be used as toppings for your dishes too. It would melt right in your mouth and the taste would give you a remarkable gastronomic experience.
Note that the cheese would last for 4 months. So, you must consume it before it expires.
However, people who prefer simpler flavors may not like the pungent taste. So, if you are one of them, we would suggest picking something younger like this one from Mitica.
- Goes well with the main dishes.
- Grated cheese can be used as toppings.
- Right kind of spicy notes just how connoisseurs would prefer.
- The cheese would melt immediately in your mouth.
- Not for simple flavor lovers.
2. Mitica Raw Parmigiano Reggiano
- Mild flavor and nutty.
- Hints of spices and sweets.
- Quite crumbly texture.
Level up your dishes with the best Parmesan Reggiano cheese by Mitica. It’s around 24-year-old and appears solid yet crumbly when it comes to consistency. Once you put a piece in your mouth, it would melt and leave a pleasant aftertaste.
It has that nutty flavor with hints of sweets and spices to make any food more appetizing. The taste isn’t very intense. So, it would mostly attract people who don’t like their cheese strong. Typically, this is a kind of go-to Parmigiano Reggiano that Italians would love to have.
One big plus is, the cheese has a variety of uses. You can use smaller pieces to serve them with beef strips, stir them into creamy risotto, sprinkle some on pizza, or grate them on top of Caesar salad.
Some of you may receive the cheese with a higher amount of rind, which can end up disappointing you. But if that happens, we would suggest you make use of them instead of throwing them away. The rinds can enhance the flavor of your sauce or soups.
- Pairs perfect with the main dishes, sauces, or anything.
- Can be turned into paste, used as grates, or cut into small pieces.
- A mild flavor that almost everyone would prefer.
- It has a pleasant aftertaste.
- Chance of receiving the cheese with a higher amount of rind.
3. Dietz & Watson Originals Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
- Rich nutty taste.
- Hints of spices and sweets.
- Quite crumbly texture.
A premium low-fat, low sodium Parmigiano Reggiano by the brand. While it’s healthy, the flavor feels quite rich. So, you would only need a bit of it to satisfy yourself. Being a 24-month-old cheese, it has tyrosine crystals that come in a solid wedge. Not only can it be used grated or shredded, but also as melted condiments. Here is a good post about to keep shredded cheese from molding.
There are some notes of nuts besides being a little sweet and spicy. Starting from rice dishes, vegetable creams to pasta and soups, it would make any dish flavorful.
Moreover, the cheese would be great with dehydrated fruits like plums, raisins, figs, and apricots. And after having it, you would get to enjoy the way it melts right away.
Some of you may find it slightly difficult to grate as it’s a dry, hard wedge. In that case, use a damp paper towel to wrap the cheese and then keep it in a resealable plastic bag or nut milk bag.
Let it chill for a whole day. After that, remove the towel and keep the wedge in the bag again for a while. Your cheese should be ready to grate now.
- Can be used grated, shredded, or as melted condiments.
- Suitable with main dishes as well as side dishes.
- Rich flavor, so a little amount would be enough.
- Melts instantly in your mouth.
- Might slightly be difficult to grate.
4. Mitica Grated Cheese
- Fresh milk and wild herbs flavors.
- Hints of sweets and sour.
- The texture feels soft.
A package of grated cheese with delicate flavors. You would get some notes of the fresh milk, as well as wild herbs, and that’s because of it being a bit younger. Coming with a 15-month-old maturation, the Parmigiano Reggiano feels softer.
There would also be slight hints of sweet and sour. Sprinkling these flavors over your boring salad can turn it into something exciting. Not just that, you can also pair it with mild fruit chutneys that are made with melon, apricot, or kiwi.
Because the cheese comes pre-grated, you are free of the hassle of manual grating. Then again, pre-grated cheese takes a very long time to melt smoother. But as it softens and melts, you would love its creaminess!
A big plus is that it has a longer shelf life. So, once it hits 24 months, you would get to enjoy different flavors and textures. This makes the cheese even more versatile.
- Goes well with raw veggies like salad or fruit chutneys.
- Pre-grated eliminates the hassle of manual grating.
- Perfect for people who love simpler flavors.
- Longer shelf life lets you make use of its flavor diversities.
- Would take a longer time to melt smoothly.
5. Frank and Sal Italian Cheese
- Rich nutty taste.
- Notes of spices and sweets.
- Quite crumbly texture.
Delicious nutty, sweet, salty cheese! That’s what you would get from this 24-month-old Parmigiano Reggiano by Frank and Sal. This might be slightly pricy, but better than the high-end ones found at your local stores.
It has a solid yet crumbly texture. You can use smaller pieces with some snacks or grate them atop pasta and salads. Any dishes would get flavored with hints of nuts and creaminess. One big plus is that they provide a wedge that’s freshly cut from the wheels. So, you’re assured of delectability.
The brand promises to ship the cheese in an EPS Recycled Cooler. It would keep the cheese intact and fresh. You can even reuse it for storage purposes.
But if you’re on a tight budget, then consider getting this cheese by Mitica. It’s a bit reasonable and has the same quality.
- Enhances any dishes’ flavor.
- Can be used as chunk, paste, or grated.
- Taste that almost everyone would prefer.
- Comes in an EPS Recycled Cooler to keep it fresh.
- A bit pricier than many rivals.
Comparison Table of Top 5 Parmigiano Reggiano
Dietz & Watson
Frank and Sal
Parmigiano Reggiano Vs Parmesan Cheese
True Parmigiano Reggiano should come from the approved regions of Europe, typically from Northern Italy. Regions include Parma, Modena, Mantua, or Bologna. The term is stenciled on the rind indicating that the cheese is made in one of those areas.
Parmesan cheese can be made outside of Europe. They might come from the United States, South America, or Australia.
Parmigiano Reggiano is only made from 3 ingredients- unpasteurized cow’s milk, calf’s rennet, and salt. There aren’t any additives.
Meanwhile, Parmesan cheese can have additives. Also, it can be made from pasteurized, aged cow’s milk in a similar style. However, the cheese doesn’t carry the Parma and Reggio Emilia lineage.
Parmigiano Reggiano should be aged at least 12 months to be called genuine. Moreover, it can have a maturation of over 48 months.
When it comes to Parmesan cheese, it might be aged around 10 months. You may also find some American versions of Parmesan as old as 3 months.
Parmigiano Reggiano is more expensive than Parmesan cheese.
Top Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Brands On The Market
Bonat has all it takes to become the best Parmigiano Reggiano brand. They ensure high-quality products. Geroge Bonati runs the Bonat firm in Parma with his son Gianluca. They own around 100 cows that produce milk to turn into cheese.
They make Parmigiano Reggiano with 100% raw cow’s milk from the Italian regions of Parma, Modena, and Reggio-Emilia. During its 2-year maturation, they clean the cheese regularly with an automatic brushing device that helps keep the rind freshly and beautifully golden. Plus, they follow all the traditional methods to help it age properly.
3. Frank & Sal’s
Franco Casamento and Frank Gassoso formed Frank and Sal’s in 1989. Since they are from the United States, they don’t own any farms. Instead, they import Parmigiano Reggiano from approved areas of Italy and make sure that customers get that’s cut fresh right off the wheel. To ensure this freshness, they even ship the cheese in an EPS cooler.
4. Alma Gourmet
Alfredo, the founder of Alma Gourmet, started running this business after moving to the US’s New York City from Italy’s Rome. Not only does he import authentic Parmigiano Reggiano that has a PDO mark, but also travels to Italy occasionally looking for more premium goods.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Would You Know If Parmigiano Reggiano Is Authentic?
This particular cheese comes with a certification mark called PDO, short for Protected Designation Origin. It’s made according to the rules in the manufacturing regulation. And it’s the only cheese entitled to have the dots spelling out Parmigiano Reggiano. Some of the signs that would help you identify the cheese are-
- Oval fire-branded mark over the crust’s side.
- Dairy code and authorization number issued by the Consortium.
- Pin-dot writing.
- Month and year of production.
In case the cheese comes pre-grated, then check out these signs-
- Export mark.
- Extra mark.
- Mezzano mark.
- Forma e Punta mark.
2. Does Parmigiano Reggiano Have Anything Artificial?
No. Parmigiano Reggiano is made of all natural ingredients. And the transformation from milk to cheese happens with only 3 contents that include cow’s milk, calf’s rennet, and salt. There aren’t any preservatives or synthetic ingredients.
Such cheese is produced every day including on holidays. It’s because the raw milk used in the making has to be raw and processed daily. It can’t be preserved at all.
3. Which Is The Finest Parmigiano Reggiano?
You can consider getting this cheese from Mitica that’s the finest Parmigiano Reggiano by the brand. It’s aged 24 months and you would get to enjoy the perfect balance between sweets and spices. The cheese melts quickly in your mouth giving you the flavors of nuts and dried fruits.
You can use the wedge in different ways- be it having the smaller cubes, grating over dishes, or melting it with the soup. Even if you get rinds, you can make use of them by mixing them with sauces or stews.
The quality would be premium and the taste would be delightful.
4. Is Parmigiano Reggiano Costly?
Yes, Parmigiano Reggiano is the expensive parmesan cheese. And there are reasons why it’s slightly pricier than others.
When it comes to producing that cheese, there are some strict rules. One of them is- it has to be made traditionally by hand. This makes the process lengthier and the cheese costlier.
It has to be made in approved areas that grow grasses featuring good bacteria. This is what gives the cheese those distinct flavors and texture. Since the number of those areas and dairies are few, it causes supply and demand issues and adds to a steeper price tag.
If you import the cheese from Italy to any other country outside Europe, then this would make the cheese more expensive.
5. Can You Eat The Rind Of Parmigiano Reggiano?
Yes, you can eat the rinds of Parmigiano Reggiano. Although it’s edible, you may find it too hard to chew. So, it wouldn’t be appetizing on its own.
Instead, you can use it differently. It would be great if you give the rind a quick wipe-down with a solution of mild white vinegar and then store it in a cool, dry place.
You can add the rind to the hot sauces, stews, soups and wait for it to become softer. This will make the dishes more appetizing. Plus, you can also use it to make a pure Parmesan stock.
After purchasing the Parmigiano Reggiano, make sure to keep it in a cool, dry place. Even if you cut it fresh, store it in the refrigerator with a temperature between 39°F to 46°F.
It’s recommended that you wrap the cheese in cheese paper. In case you don’t find any, opt for plastic wraps, waxed paper, or foil.
All the products we selected here are premium, appetizing, and genuine. Hope this guide helps you to pick the best Parmigiano Reggiano for yourself.