All of us has asked at least once, “is this Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano?” Today we would like to explain how to tell them apart and explain the numerous differences between these two excellent products of the Italian kitchen. An essential article for all cheese-lovers!
Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano: the 5 differences
Both these cheeses were created in monastries in the Medieval era, an d were much used across northern Italy. Grana Padano is particularly loved in Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige, while Parmigiano Reggiano is more common Emilia Romagna, and generally across northern Italy. The organoleptic characteristics of the two cheeses are basically but if go further into detail, there are differences that make each suitable for different uses and dishes.
The first difference concerns how the cows are fed: in the case of Parmigiano Reggiano, the cows must be fed solely with grass from the production zone, while for Grana Padano the cows can be fed with other foods. Grana Padano can be made with two days working per day, whereas genuine Parmigiano Reggiano is only allowed one working per day.
Equally the rinnet for the Parmigiano must be of animal origin, whereas that for the Grana can animal, germ or vegetable in nature. And what about preservatives? The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium bans the uses of any preservatives, where it is allowed for Grana Padano.
Finally, Grana Padano has a lower fat content than Parmigiano and reaches the seasoning phase first. In fact, Grana Padano only needs 9 months of seasoning, and can be matured up to 24 months, whereas Parmigiano needs at least 12 and can go as far as 36. We should also not forget that Grana Padano has a stronger, deeper flavour, reminiscent of the flavour of broth or our boiled vegetable dishes, whereas Parmigiano Reggiano has a more marked flavour that develops over times, and therefore suited to recipes that need a touch of character.
Parmigiano Reggiano becomes kosher
Tradition has always been the strong point for the production of Parmigiano Reggiano, and yet this does not mean stop innovating. Some producers have now made kosher Parmigiano Reggiano: what does this mean? Actually it is a very significant development: combining the traditions of a unique DOP product with the rules of the Kasherut is actually not easy. The checks needed cover every part of the production process, starting from the breeding of the cows to the milking stage, all checks carried out under the supervision of a rabbi. The animal rennet must also be certified Kosher. This is a very significant step that will allow this fantastic cheese to become more popular with members of the Jewish community.