Parmesan Cheese: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Explore the health benefits, history, and uses of Parmesan cheese, an Italian extra-hard cheese made from cow's milk and aged for at least 12 months.

What Is Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan cheese is the name of an Italian extra-hard cheese with a nutty, strong flavor made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow's milk and aged at least 12 months (some say 24 months). It has a hard pale-golden rind and a yellowish-brown inside.

Is Parmesan Cheese Good For You?

There are some health benefits to Parmesan cheese when eaten in moderation.

4 Health Benefits Of Parmesan Cheese

  1. Parmesan is naturally lactose-free even though it is a cheese/dairy product
  2. Parmesan is a good source of some vitamins and minerals: Calcium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Vitamin A
  3. Parmesan is a good source of protein
    • The protein is easily digested
    • Parmesan cheese provides large amounts of good-quality proteins because it contains high concentrations of all the essential amino acids , which means it’s a complete protein
  4. Parmesan cheese may help prevent osteoporosis
    • Parmesan cheese is a good source of calcium, with each serving providing 26% of our daily needs
    • Parmesan is classified in Europe as a functional food , meaning that it’s a food that has medicinal benefits, because of the casein
    • When casein is digested, it leaves mineral residues that enhance the absorption of other minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc
    • This calcium is beneficial for counteracting osteoporosis and supporting good bone health
    • Parmesan cheese is also high in phosphorus which is essential for bone development

History, Background About General Facts about Parmesan Cheese

  • The original Parmesan cheese is called Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for Parma andReggianothat for Reggio Emilia
  • Parmesan cheese labeled stravecchio has been aged three years andstravecchionesare aged four or more years old
  • True Parmesan cheese is produced only in Italy, in the provinces of Parma , Reggio Emilia, Modena, partly in Mantua and partly in Bologna
  • The original Parmesan cheese is one of the most expensive cheeses in the world
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano has been called the "King of Cheeses"
  • According to wikipedia… as of 2017, about 3.6 million wheels of Parmesan are produced every year; they use about 18% of all the milk produced in Italy
  • Legend has it that Parmigiano-Reggiano was created during the Middle Ages in Bibbiano , in the province of Reggio Emilia . Its production soon spread to the Parma and Modena areas
  • Each wheel of Parmesan cheese has to meet strict criteria early in the aging process, to get the official Parmesan seal and be placed in storage for aging
  • Within the European Union , the termParmesancan only be used, by law, to refer to actual Parmigiano-Reggiano, which must be made in a specific geographic area, using strictly defined methods (like Champagne from France and Bourbon from Kentucky)
  • Special seals identify the product as authentic, with the identification number of the dairy, the production month and year, a code identifying the individual wheel and stamps regarding the length of aging
  • Any hard Italian-style cheese made outside of Italy can be called 'Parmesan'
  • After the European r uling that "parmesan" could not be used as a generic name, Kraft renamed its grated cheese in the green container "Pamesello" in Europe

What Are The Cuisines That Regularly Include Parmesan cheese?

Parmesan is an Italian cheese so Italian is the primary cuisine.

What Is The Best Way To Store Parmesan cheese?

The best way to store parmesan cheese is wrapped in plastic or in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

What Are The Different Types Of Parmesan cheese?

Authentic Parmesan cheese only comes in one version, based on strict guidelines. It is typically eaten grated, shredded, or thinly sliced.

Toxicity and Side Effects Of Parmesan Cheese

There aren’t many risks in consuming parmesan cheese unless you are allergic to casein, the protein found in the cheese.

What Is The Best Substitute For Parmesan Cheese If I Don't Have Any?

If you don't have Parmesan cheese available or need a substitute for it in a recipe, there are a few alternatives you can consider depending on the purpose and flavor profile you're aiming for. Here are some options:

  1. Pecorino Romano: Pecorino Romano is a hard Italian cheese that is somewhat similar to Parmesan in taste and texture. It has a slightly saltier and sharper flavor. Pecorino Romano can be used as a substitute for Parmesan in most recipes, including grated or shredded over pasta dishes, salads, or soups.

  2. Grana Padano: Grana Padano is another Italian cheese that is comparable to Parmesan. It has a similar flavor profile but is milder and less complex. Grana Padano can be used as a substitute for Parmesan in recipes that call for grated or shaved cheese, such as pasta, risotto, or salads.

  3. Asiago: Asiago is an Italian cheese that comes in different varieties, ranging from mild to sharp. Depending on the type, Asiago can have a flavor profile that is somewhat similar to Parmesan. It can be grated or shredded and used as a substitute in various recipes, including pasta, soups, and sauces.

  4. Romano: Romano cheese is a hard cheese with a sharp and salty flavor. While it may not have the same depth of flavor as Parmesan, it can be used as a substitute in recipes that call for grated cheese, such as pasta dishes or salads.

  5. Nutritional Yeast: If you're looking for a dairy-free or vegan substitute for Parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast can be a viable option. Nutritional yeast has a cheesy and nutty flavor and can be sprinkled over dishes for added flavor and a hint of cheesiness.

Best Parmesan Cheese Recipes