Today, I’ll be showing you how to make Parmesan cheese at home using our simple yet tried and tested recipe.
That’s not all,
To fully appreciate Parmesan cheese, you need to know its history, my favorite baked chicken Parmesan recipe and of course some nutritional facts. That and much more, let’s get to it!
What Is Parmesan Cheese?
Also referred to as Parmigiano Reggiano, is perhaps the most revered of Italian cheeses.
Naming cheeses after their place of origin is a concept that dates back to the Roman Empire. It is made using unpasteurized cow’s milk. The cows are allowed to graze on fresh grass and hay.
The earliest mention dates back to 1254 when an Italian Noble lady from Genoa traded her house for a guaranteed annual supply of 53 pounds of cheese.
The French and Italian Nobles had close ties and soon enough Parmesan found its way to France. By the close of the 14th century, it had travelled from the Parma-Reggio region over the Apennine mountains to Tuscany.
From there, ships leaving from Livorno and Pisa carried the precious cargo to many other Mediterranean ports.
Parmigiano Reggiano is legally the only hard cheese that can be called Parmesan. European courts acknowledged the historical fact that the cheese has its origins in the Parma-Reggio region of Italy.
The European court’s ruling meant that it needs to conform to the Protected Designation of Origin standards for Parmigiano Reggiano.
Earlier on in 1954, the pioneering alliance of Italian cheese makers renamed their organization the Consorzio Del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Since then, the official name of the cheese stuck as Parmigiano Reggiano, which is indicated by pin dots imprinted on each wheel’s rind.
Members of the Consorzio Del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano follow strict production standards and work together to market Parmesan while protecting the name from would-be imitators.
Parmesan Cheese Recipe
To learn how to make Parmesan Cheese at home, you will need the following ingredients;
- Ten litres of skimmed cow’s milk.
- Lipase (as per the manufacturer’s instructions).
- A quarter teaspoon of thermophilic starter culture.
- 5mls of rennet diluted in a quarter cup of water.
How To Make Parmesan Cheese At Home
- Warm the milk up to 33°C
- Add in the lipase and starter cultures then stir thoroughly.
- Cover the milk and leave it to ripen for about 15 minutes.
- Add in the diluted rennet and then stir thoroughly.
- Leave it to set for about 45 minutes while ensuring that the temperature holds at 33°
- Keep checking for a clean break.
- Afterwards, carefully cut the curd into equal 1 centimetre cubes then leave them for 10 minutes.
- Heat the curds to raise the temperature to 46°C over 45 minutes.
- Stir regularly, reducing the curds to the size of grains of rice (I stir with a whisk to achieve this)
- Line your cheese mold with cheesecloth and gently ladle your curds into the mold.
- Press at 5kgs for 30 minutes. (To double check the pressure use the cheese pressure calculator)
- Remove from mold, redress and press at 10kg for 2 hours
- Remove from mold, redress and press at 20kg for 12 hours
- Again, remove from mold, redress and press at 10kg for 12 hours
- Remove from the cheese from the mold and the cheesecloth.
- Soak it in saturated brine for 24 hours.
- Pat dry and age at 85% humidity at 14 degrees Celsius
- Turn it daily for the first 2 weeks.
- After 2 months have elapsed, rub the cheese with olive oil to prevent the rind from drying out.
You should age it for at least 10 months. Cheese connoisseurs, however, recommend preferably aging it for 12 months before enjoying it.
Benoît Prieur – CC-BY-SA
How To Store Parmesan Cheese
If you want to keep it fresh, proper storage is absolutely necessary. It should be wrapped in plastic wrapping and put in the refrigerator. Parmesan that has prolonged exposure to air starts to turn white and the rind starts to thicken.
Parmesan Cheese Taste
Genuine Parmesan can be described as having a hard, gritty texture. It has a nutty and fruity taste that can be used to identify imitations. Fake or inferior products marketed as Parmesan has a bitter taste.
Piave is as close to Parmesan as you can get. It is similar in texture and flavor.
Pecorino Romano is another suitable replacement that is perfect for grating well on pasta.
Grana Padano is the third best Parmesan alternative. It has a mild flavor and is less crumbly.
How To Use Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan can be used to make a wide variety of tasty gourmet meals. You can shred (grate) it, this being the most popular method, shave it, cut or slice it and even use it as a powder. My all time favourite recipe is below.
A simple yet surprisingly tasty recipe you can put together in under an hour. This recipe is similar to what you’d find in a restaurant with the only exception being there’s less sauce and tons of flavor.
How To Make Chicken Parmesan
With some boneless chicken breasts, some breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and some herbs you can create a taste experience unlike anything else you’ve tried in the past.
I like to fry my chicken breasts till they’re crispy and golden brown before throwing on the herbs and cheese then baking it for 20 minutes at 450F. One word, perfection.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot are some of the wines you should pair this exceptional Italian delight with.
A 100gram slice contains 431 calories of which Proteins form 27%, Carbohydrates 13%, and Fats 60%.
Also containing Calcium, Iron, Vitamins D, B-6, B-12, and Magnesium.
Can I eat parmesan cheese when pregnant?
As far as pregnancy and safety go, it is safe for consumption by expectant women. But always check with your health care professional.
Being a hard cheese, it contains way less moisture hence is unlikely to support any bacterial growth.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to make Parmesan cheese at home. Please share your stories and pictures with us.
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