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Parmigiano-Reggiano is an extra-hard cheese made in Italy. Its production underlies strict monitoring of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese Consorzio in Reggio nell´Emilia. The Consorzio controls 950 cheese dairies from the Italian regions Parma, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Modena and Mantua. Only cheese from these dairys may be called Parmigiano-Reggiano and constitutes the real Parmesan. Raw milk of the same day must be used to make Parmigiano-Reggiano and it may only be produced between the 1st of April and the 11th of November. Furthermore the milk must be from cows that only feed on grass and hay.

For one kilogram of Parmigiano 16 litres of milk are used. For a cheese wheel of 36 kilogram that is 45 cm in diameter and 24 cm high, 576 litres of milk are used. Parmigiano-Reggiano ages for two to three years until it develops its full aromatic and nutty taste. It is ripe enough for consumption after only six months though and is sold in several ageing levels:

  • Table cheese: ages one year and is called nuovo, which means young cheese
  • Cooking cheese and grating cheese: ages two years and is called vecchio, meaning old cheese
  • Dessert cheese: ages three years and is called stavecchio, meaning very old cheese

The original Parmigiano-Reggiano has a dark, straw coloured rind and is heat branded with the letters Parmigiano-Reggiano and the logo of the Consorzio. Cheese for the export must bear the label Extra. Parmigiano-Reggiano has a minimum of 32 % fat in dry matter.

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