The qualities of a true Parmesan - rich, round flavour and the ability to melt with heat and become inseparable from the ingredients to which it is joined - are vested in a cheese that has no rivals: Parmigiano-Reggiano. Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Italian Cooking
Have you been storing your precious wedge of Parmesan cheese in a plastic bag? The great Marcella Hazan would nod in disapproval. After spending your hard-earned cash on authenticParmigiano-Reggiano, it would be a pity to spoil your cheese by storing it improperly.
Hazan, who spent her life teaching and writing about Italian food, offered plenty of tips on how to store Parmesan cheese in her book Essentials of Italian Cooking. First, you want to make sure you've purchaseda quality wedge of cheesewith therind still attached. Inspect the rind to ensure it bears a dotted stamp with the words Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Here's how to store Parmesan cheese so it will stay fresh longer:
1. Wrap it in wax paper
I know what you're thinking: can I use parchment paper instead? While Hazan firmly recommends wax paper, parchment paper will do in a pinch (even though it's coated in food-grade silicone and not wax). The idea is to preserve the cheese's humidityand prevent it from drying out.
It's interesting to note that the Italian consortium that makesParmigiano-Reggiano recommends wrapping the cheese in plastic. However, some cheese experts say plastic makes the cheese 'sweat' too much. If you avoid plastic, stick to wax paper.
2. Wrap it in aluminium foil
After wrapping your lovely wedge of Parmesan cheese in wax paper, you'll want to ensure you cover itcompletely in a sheet of heavy-dutyaluminium foil. This will protect the cheese while allowing it to 'breathe.' Be sure every nook and cranny is sealed with foil.
3. Store it properly
Hazan recommends storing Parmesan cheese in the bottom of the refrigerator. It's best to keep it away from other foods to prevent it from absorbing their odours (I find the deli compartment in the fridge works great). The ideal storage temperate is between 39 to 46 degrees F (4 to 8 degrees C). Never freeze Parmesan cheese unless it has been previously ground. Don't forget to wrap the cheese tightly after every use.
How is Parmesan cheese made?
If you’ve bought it and are wondering how best to store it, you probably know how heavenly this “king of cheeses” tastes. But maybe you aren’t fully aware of where and how it is made. True parmesan cheese, called Parmigiano-Reggiano has protected designation of origin status and can only be produced in a specific region in Northern Italy. It is made from unpasteurised milk heated in copper vats, to which starter whey and calf rennet are added. One 1,100 litre vat of milk yields two 45-kilogram wheels of curds, which eventually turn into 38 kilogram wheels of cheese. The young cheeses are soaked in brine for 20-25 days, then aged for a full year, turning them every week. Finally, each cheese is inspected by the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese consortium to deem if it is worthy to bear the Parmesan seal and go to market.
What are the health benefits of Parmesan Cheese?
Harder cheeses tend to have lower fat-to-protein ratios than soft ones, and this holds true for Parmesan. It is also high in calcium and lactose-free, and is a rich source of vitamin A, some B vitamins, and minerals like phosphorous, zinc, and copper.
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