Parmigiano-Reggiano (also known as “Parmesan Cheese”) is produced exclusively in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of the provinces of Mantua and Bologna, on the plains, hills and mountains enclosed between the rivers Po and Reno. This is the area hosting four thousand farms where the cattle are fed on locally grown forage. The feeding of cattle complies with the norms of a strict specification that bans the use of silage and fermented feeds. Regular controls are carried out on the milk used in the process to ensure the high quality and the presence of special characteristics, which allow Parmigiano-Reggiano to continue to be, as it always has been, a purely natural product, completely without additives or preservatives.
The experts of the Consortium examine each cheese one by one. After the Control Body’s inspection, a mark is fire-branded onto the individual cheeses which meet the requirements of the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin). All identifying marks and the dotted inscriptions are removed from any cheeses which do not meet the DOP requirements.
The cheeses which are sent for sale to the consumer as “fresh” will have parallel lines engraved on them which render them immediately recognisable by the consumer. This is the second class of Parmigiano-Reggiano called “mezzano”.
When the cheese has matured for 18 months, the mark "Extra" or "Export" can be added. A system of coloured seals help the consumer identify the level of maturation of the pre-packaged products available in retailers.
A red seal identifies the Parmigiano-Reggiano which has been matured for over 18 months. This product has a rather strong milk flavour, with aromatic notes such as herbs, flowers and fruits which make it ideal for snacks and aperitifs.
A silver seal identifies cheese which has been matured for over 22 months, with decidedly stronger aromas. In these cheeses the notes of fresh and citrus fruit can be tasted, along with a hint of nuts.
Finally, a gold seal identifies a cheese which has been matured for over 30 months and has the most distinctive flavour and complex aromas, with a higher nutritional element concentrated over its long maturation.
Delicious to taste
During maturation, Parmigiano-Reggiano gains its typical granular structure, and when cut it into slivers, it becomes crumbly and soluble. Delicious, easy to digest and with a host of nutritional benefits, Parmigiano-Reggiano always exceeds expectations.
The unique taste of a product made without additives, with its concentration of proteins, vitamins, calcium and mineral salts make it perfect for all ages and for all situations, a ready source of useful energy for everyone. Pediatricians, for example, advise mothers and nurses to enrich baby foods with Parmigiano-Reggiano. The Italian cuisine celebrate the virtues of Parmigiano-Reggiano: it pairs well with Lambrusco wine, or with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena: in slices with fresh fruit, or grated with Italian pasta dishes.