Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Pecorino… these Italian cheeses that we love to use in the kitchen are often confused. However, each of them has its own individuality and characteristics. We explain their differences to you so you don’t make the mistake again.
Same looks, same Italian sounding names… the confusion between Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano or even Pecorino is common when you find yourself in the cheese department. However, these gourmet pressed cheeses do not have the same history or taste in dishes. And one does not replace the other… Our advice to find your way
Parmesan cheese: how to be sure you are choosing real Parmigiano Reggiano?
Parmesan is necessarily synonymous with Parmigiano Reggiano. This is indeed the French translation of the Italian. The two controlled designations of origin (AOP) of 1996 for Italian were extended from 2008 to the French word by a decision of the European Court. To be sure that you are buying real Parmesan, you should find PDO Parmigiano Reggiano on its packaging. This is the guarantee that the cheese was produced in Emilia-Romagna region. Outside of this geographical area, cheeses cannot be called Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano. Behind this name are more than 300 producers of this milk cheese. But always the same recipe with a mixture of partially skimmed milk from the day before and fresh milk from the day. The parmesan is then shaped, dipped in brine and aged for at least 12 months before being released to the market and enjoyed by us.
Grana Padano: what are its differences with Parmesan Reggiano?
Its appearance is very similar to that of parmesan cheese. Both come in the form of beautiful wheels of cow’s milk who live in the same region of northern Italy. But the milk used for Grana Padano comes from cows that graze outside the Parmesan AOC region, that is, from Emilia-Romagna. Another difference: the milk mixture comes from two milkings for the day. To recognize it, just look for its small “Grana Padano” logo and that of its AOC, which it also has. In terms of flavor, Grana Padano is considered less fruity than Parmesan.
Pecorino: why doesn’t it taste like parmesan?
If in commerce pecorino can resemble parmesan or grana padano, it has nothing to do with other Italian cheeses. It’s actually abouta sheep’s milk not a cow. It is also performed in several regions of Italy. We find pecorino from Tuscany, Sardinia or even Sicily. This earned him the honor of also having PDO, as in the case of Pecorino Romano. Its taste is more pronounced and brings a touch of spiciness like in real carbonara, where it is mixed with parmesan.