History of Parmesan

Posted by Sara Chinnock on

History of Parmesan

Parmesan (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) is one of the top cheeses for cheese connoisseurs. Many refer to it as the "king of cheese." Although its unique taste is now enjoyed worldwide, the first Parmesan originates from the Parma-Reggio region of Italy. 

Deeper Dive

Let's dive into the history of this delicious Italian cheese whose preparation method has been passed down through generations.

Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano is a typical Italian hard granular cheese made with cow's milk aged between 12 and 36 months. It is the result of a very old tradition that Benedictine and Cistercian monks started in the Middle Ages when they sought a cheese that could last long. 

The first recorded reference to Parmesan, in 1254, documents that a noblewoman from Genoa traded her house for an annual supply of 53 pounds of cheese from Parma. Parmigiano-Reggiano had already developed a solid reputation as a cheese of noble quality. 

During the 1300s and 1400s, this already renowned cheese was sold throughout Italy and eventually into the rest of Europe. Over time, wealthy aristocratic families and simple citizens began to imitate the method of making this cheese. 

With its popularity came a necessity for protecting its production. The Duke of Parma issued an order giving the Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano (the Consortium for Parmesan from Reggiano) authority over the production of this cheese. He identified that only the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia and minimal areas in neighboring provinces are allowed to label their product "parmesan."

In the US

In the US, many refer to Parmigiano Reggiano as "parmesan" because it is accepted as a name translation. However, it is not the true parmesan cheese from the approved regions because it is not subject to DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) regulations. That being said, Parmesan in the US only imitates Parmigiano-Reggiano. 

Nonetheless, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan are both flavorful cheeses and can be used similarly. They are also excellent ingredients to add to a charcuterie board since both pair well with meats, fruits, and nuts.

You want cheese, don't you? 

At Sara's Boxes & Boards, we have carefully curated charcuterie boards and boxes to satisfy your cravings and elevate your event! Contact us today to order! 



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