We are sure that the cooks amongst you have often used Parmesan cheese in your recipes, perhaps in the béchamel sauce on top of a homemade lasagne, or crumbled onto a green salad to give it an extra dimension.
Chef Andrea, the talented chef on our small river cruiser La Bella Vita, certainly makes great use of this flavoursome cheese and has passed on some interesting facts that may be new to you.
Back in the Middle Ages, monks in Parma first starting making the cheese and since then there have been many imitations. It was only in 2008 that European courts decreed that Parmigiano-Reggiano is the only hard cheese that can be called parmesan.
Also, did you know that it is made with the unpasteurized milk of morning and evening milkings. The evening milk is allowed to "rest" overnight and more fresh milk, which has "rested" only an hour, is added the following morning. An even lesser-known fact is that only milk produced between May 1 and November 11 is used.
Ranging in color from ivory white to straw-yellow, it is a soft and almost velvety cheese, with barely perceptible por s and the taste is very savory with a lactic and vegetal aroma. Once it has been produced, the cheese is encased within a yellowish-golden and slightly oily rind on which the brand name Parmigiano Reggiano is stencilled in small dots.
Finally, after a lengthy ripening period, usually around 2 years, the presence of small white crystals are a sign that the cheese is ready to eat.