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12 Facts About Parmesan Cheese

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Parmesan cheese is a beloved and versatile ingredient in many dishes. Its distinct taste and aroma make it a staple in Italian cuisine, but there’s more to this delicious cheese than meets the eye! Here are 12 intriguing facts about Parmesan Cheese:

1. It’s an Old Cheese
Parmesan Cheese is one of the oldest cheeses still produced today. Its origin dates back to over a thousand years ago, when monks in Italy first created it as a way to preserve milk from their cows and goats.

2. Parmigiano Reggiano vs Parmesan
Technically speaking, “Parmesan” is the generic term used for any cheese made like Parmigiano-Reggiano. However, only cheeses produced in a specific area of Italy can be called “Parmigiano-Reggiano.” So, when you buy authentic Parmesan cheese, make sure it says “Parmigiano-Reggiano” on the label!

3. Protected by Law
The production of Parmigiano-Reggiano is strictly regulated by European law. This means that only certain dairies in specific provinces of Italy can produce this cheese – ensuring quality and authenticity.

4. The Wheel Shape Matters
Authentic Parmesan wheels are stored upside down, with the top dipped in a wax coating to protect them from air and bacteria. This shape helps maintain its shape during aging, which can last anywhere from 12 months to over three years!

5. It’s High in Nutrients
Parmesan cheese is rich in calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and other essential nutrients. Eating a small serving (around 30 grams) provides around 30% of your daily recommended intake of calcium – ideal for those who don’t consume dairy products often.

6. It’s Not Just for Pasta!
While many people associate Parmesan cheese with pasta dishes, it can actually be used in various recipes, including salads, soups, risottos, and even desserts! Its unique flavor pairs well with both sweet and savory ingredients.

7. The Cheese Rind is Edible
Contrary to popular belief, the rind of Parmesan cheese is completely edible. In fact, many chefs use it in soups or sauces for added depth of flavor.

8. Aged Wine Companion
Parmesan cheese pairs exceptionally well with aged wines like Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. The rich flavors of both the wine and cheese complement each other perfectly, making them an ideal match.

9. Age Matters
The longer Parmesan cheese ages, the more complex its flavor becomes. Aged cheeses have a sharper taste and a crumbly texture compared to younger ones.

10. It’s Good for Your Heart
Studies have shown that consuming moderate amounts of Parmesan cheese may help reduce the risk of heart disease due to its high levels of healthy fats, specifically oleic acid.

11. Cheese Bites for Sore Throats
In Italy, it’s believed that consuming a small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano can soothe a sore throat or cough. The cheese contains anti-inflammatory properties and helps coat the throat, providing temporary relief.

12. Endangered Species List?
In 2014, Parmesan cheese was added to the Slow Food Foundation’s Ark of Taste – a list of endangered foods that are worth preserving due to their unique taste and cultural significance. This move highlights the importance of maintaining traditional methods of production and supporting artisanal cheesemakers.

So there you have it! Twelve interesting facts about Parmesan cheese, each one revealing something new about this beloved ingredient. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting to explore different types of cheeses, understanding more about Parmesan can enhance your appreciation for its flavor and versatility. Buon appetito!

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