Parmesan is a well-known Italian cheese. It is very hard and aromatic. It is obtained from cow’s milk treated with rennet and temperature. Real Italian parmesan has a specific cheese scent, and adding it to selected dishes improves their taste and nutritional quality. Under the name Parmesan we can find in stores products that have nothing to do with the valuable Italian cheese. Read the article below and you will certainly know how to buy original high-quality cheese. You will find out what is its history, where it comes from, and what nutritional and health-promoting properties it characterizes.
Parmesan – history
The name Parmesan derives from the place where the production of cheese began – the regions of Italian Parma. Assigning dishes to names associated with their place of origin began just after the fall of the Roman Empire. This technique was a very convenient way to describe food products informing about the main place of their production. The inventors of Parmesan were medieval monks who were engaged in breeding farm animals and fed on what they had managed to prepare themselves. At the time, parmesan was known as Caseum paramensis. The recipe of Parma cheese is over 800 years old.
Currently, it exists under the full name of Conzorzio del Fromaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano, the abbreviation of which is simply Parmesan. To this day, the Parmigiano-Reggiano member is the only name tagged on a real block of Parma cheese.
Parmesan – composition and method of production
Parmesan is somewhat reminiscent of the Moldavian cheese, but it is slightly taller than it. The average size of parmesan cheese is 18-22 cm high, 35-65 cm wide. The pancakes of parmesan cheese are prominent and the sides are slightly convex. Parmesan pulp is yellowish, without discoloration. In most cases, there are no meshes, although there are also specimens with small holes.
The production of Parma cheese is not simple or fast. It requires a subtle approach and a good knowledge of the recipe. It is made from raw cow’s milk. Real parmesan cheese is made from the milk of Razza Reggiana or Vacca Ross cows. Cheeses made from the milk of other cows do not fit into the canon of the original recipe.
Many years passed before the perfect recipe of Parma cheese was developed. A breakthrough in production occurred when pure bacterial strains were introduced into the production of cheeses. It is believed that the presence of an isolated strain of lactic acid bacteria and acid-proteolytic bacteria is necessary for proper ripening of hard rennet cheeses. It is also important to comply with strict hygiene rules from the moment the cow is milked until the final cheese matures. If a bacterial infection occurs at any stage of production, the cheese will not be suitable for consumption.
The smallest amount of milk needed to make 1 medium-sized cheese is about 350-400 liters of milk. Collected milk is poured into the boiler and, after thorough mixing, its acidity is determined in order to calculate the sourdough production needed to produce it. The sourdough must contain the most abundant bacteria that in one day make physical and chemical changes to the milk. After acidifying procedures, the milk is heated to about 33-35 degrees Celsius. Then it is also seasoned with rennet. Milk coagulation under the influence of the enzyme takes about 20-30 minutes. The semi-hard curd is cut with a wooden spatula and then comminuted into a pea-sized seed. Stirring continues until the entire volume of the clot is dry. The whole is set aside for a half-hour break. Then the heating process begins, 1-4 grams of saffron is added to the cheese mass for every 100 liters of milk used. Then, the mass of cheese is pulled out of the boiler using a scarf and formed using a Swiss rim.
The cheese is left to ripen for 15-20 days. At this time, the cheese is moisturized and lubricated with salt so that they have the right taste, the process of sowing may take another 40-50 days. The next step is to wash the cheese and put it away in dry basements at 15 degrees, where they suck up and put on a hard, uniform mass. After this time the cheese is scraped off the outer layer, pressed and rubbed with linseed oil. This action protects the valuable product against damage and mechanical damage. Good quality Parmenan cheese ripen at least 4 years, but the best can mature even several dozen years.
Parmesan – nutritional value and pro-health properties
It is assumed that one portion of parmesan cheese is 5 g. It is an extremely aromatic cheese and is not consumed in large quantities. Parmesan is a high-calorie cheese, in the portion is 20 kcal. This means that 100 g of cheese is about 400 kcal. It is a very good source of protein (40 g / 100 g – for comparison, the same amount is found in 225 g of trout). In addition, it contains a lot of fat (30 g / 100 g) and large amounts of minerals, which include sodium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus minerals, as well as vitamins A, B2, B6, B12.
Parmesan contains the largest amounts of calcium among all cheeses (1,109 g / 100 g of cheese). It is successfully used in dietotherapy of osteoporosis. It is important, however, to remember that parmesan (despite the high calcium content) also contains a large amount of sodium. As we well know, too much of this macroelement in the diet can have harmful effects on our health. However, if we are connoisseurs of cheeses, we must consume them in reasonable quantities.
Contained in parmesan, phosphorus is essential for the proper functioning of the skeletal system. It supports the development of bones and teeth. It also reduces the risk of kidney stones by acidifying urine. Multicenter studies have proven that the chromium contained in ripening cheeses has a beneficial effect on lipid metabolism. Reasonable amounts of rennet cheese in the diet lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. They help regulate blood glucose and reduce tissue requirements for insulin. All these features indicate that parmesan (consumed regularly and in small amounts) can bring benefits in the prevention of civilization diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes.
Recent reports from the world of science indicate that parmesan cheese not only does not cause a faster increase in body weight, and can even inhibit the development of obesity in people with metabolic syndrome.
Parmesan – application in culinary art
The taste of real Parmesan cheese can not be confused with any other. It is distinctive, ripe, the cheese has a characteristic, quite intense smell. Against the background of other rennet cheeses it is distinguished by its constant and very hard consistency.
Starters Parmesan can be an addition to cold dishes such as salads, spreads, starters. Ideally also found as a complement to hot dishes of pasta, sauces, pizzas, casseroles and many, many more. The younger cheese is a dry addition to wines and cold meats. Because of its price and its unique origin, it is not a classic element of the French cheese board.
There is really no reason to not eat parmesan. It is a source of many valuable nutrients. The only limitation that should be introduced when using the benefits of Parma cheese is the preservation of moderation in its consumption. It must be remembered that the portion of this cheese is 5 grams. Therefore, it should not be exceeded. The disadvantage of Parma cheese is its price. For one kilo of such cheese you have to pay an average of 70-150 PLN depending on the producer and the time of ripening. There are, however, very old Parma cheese, the price of which reaches even several thousand euros.