DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GRANA PADANO AND PARMIGIANO REGGIANO
How many times does it happen to confuse these two kinds of cheeses and to treat them unconsciously as interchangeable? “Give me the Grana” or “Take a little bit of Parmigiano” have currently become part of our everyday language, but we actually do not always pay attention to what we put into the shopping cart. In this page we finally clarify the differences between Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano and we will try to answer the secular question: is Grana Padano better than Parmigiano Reggiano?
There are different important aspects that we have to consider to give an answer to this question:
As the names of these cheeses suggest, Grana Padano has a much larger production area than Parmigiano Reggiano, that includes most of the Po valley. The production area covers several regions of Northern Italy starting from Piedmont and going to Veneto, passing through Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, reaching Trentino Alto-Adige. The production of Parmigiano Reggiano, on the other hand, is more localized. This cheese comes from the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia (of course), with an extension into the areas of Modena, East Bologna, and the northern part of the province of Mantova.
Taste and consistency
It may not seem an easy task to differentiate between a piece of Grana Padano and a piece of Parmigiano Reggiano, but by analyzing them closely the differences between these two cheeses becomes quite clear. Grana is softer, butterier and it tastes slightly more delicate. Cheese experts can even taste smells of broth or steamed vegetables. Parmigiano generally has a more decisive flavor and the longer it maturates, the more the aromatic notes become recognizable. When matured for less than 12 months, it is still possible to sense the taste of milk, while in the more advanced stages of its aging, a taste of citrus fruits, dried fruits and a hint of hazelnut become pronounced.
Parmigiano Reggiano is made from a mix of whole and skimmed milk. The whole milk is milked the very same morning whereas the skimmed milk is milked the evening before and skimmed all night in spawning tanks. Therefore, the production of this cheese starts with a semi-skimmed milk. Grana Padano’s production process, on the other hand, begins with raw milk that comes from one or two daily milkings, partially skimmed by natural surface skimming. Grana Padano cheese therefore has a lower fat content that Parmigiano Reggiano, which influences the final result quite significantly.
The main difference in the production phase of these two cheeses is the use of lysozyme, that is used in Grana Padano as a preservative while it is not used in the production of Parmigiano Reggiano. Lysozyme is an enzyme that is naturally present in many nutritive substances such as in the egg white or in human tears.
So what is better, Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano? Obviously, the answer to this question does not exist. When it comes to flavour, it all depends on their aging and the dish they are served with. Surely, these cheeses are pillars of the Italian dairy tradition, and they have become an important symbol of Italy in the world. They are also carefully treated and certified to the very last detail, to guarantee that all consumers receive a product that is characterized by extremely high standards.