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This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

Say (parmesan) cheeeeese!


IMG_3337Did you know that Parmigiano Reggiano  (known in English as Parmesan cheese) is still made with raw (unpasturised) milk  the world over according to traditional methods? Due to certain Italian laws that protect the names and recipes of certain cheeses, a cheese cannot be called Parmigiano Reggiano unless it is made using a specific recipe and production method and within certain provinces. These laws are meant to preserve the integrity of traditional cheeses by insuring the flavor and quality. If a cheese is simply labeled "Parmesan", it is a cheese that imitates the recipe for Parmigiano Reggiano, but is made without following the strict Italian laws (and typically has not been made in Italy). Even though consumption of raw cows milk in Australia is illegal, the consumption of  hard cheeses made with raw milk (eg Parmigiano Reggiano) is legal. Anomolous, I know.

Parmigiano Reggiano is the best quality of Parmesan cheese - aged much longer than its cheaper and less mature sibling Grana Padano. The main difference between the two is that cows producing Parmigiano-Reggiano eat only grass and cereals (no silage), no preservatives and no antibiotics. In terms of taste and texture, Grana Padano is less crumbly, less sharp and less grainy than Parmigiano Reggiano.

When my Reggiano becomes too hard/dry to eat, I throw it in the food processor and process it until it resembles fine bread crumbs and store it in the fridge for use when making scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas. Grating largish volumes of cheese with a hand held grater is too tiring and time consuming.

Other raw milk cheeses commonly available in Australia is the famous Swiss melting cheese Gruyere and the very expensive Roquefort made from ewes milk.  These are sold at quality cheese stores/delis (eg Ocello in Surry Hills or Entertainment Quarter growers markets and David Jones Food Hall). I also sell Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano at a little above wholesale prices to my regular customers at $40/kg (it usually retails around $55-60/kg).

In addition to using Parmigiano Reggiano in scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas,  I add shaved Reggiano to salads (especially delicious in roasted beetroot salad) or simply eat a chunk of it as is. Great for kids morning teas teamed with fruit to avoid a blood sugar spike and crash or added to lunch boxes with raw veggies. To read more about raw milk cheeses refer to one of my earlier blogs here.