Parmigiano Reggiano vs Grana Padano

Parmigiano Reggiano vs Grana Padano

May 14, 2020Donatella Mulvoni

Do you know the differences between Italy's most famous cheeses? What is the difference between Parmigiano Reggiano [parmiˈdʒaːno redˈgʒaːno] and Grana Padano [ˈɡraːna paˈdaːno]?



Many people believe that they are both just “Parmesan”. And some even think that Grana Padano is an inexpensive imitation of better-known Parmigiano Reggiano, the “King of Cheeses”. Well, it isn’t! Be careful, the Grana Padano Consortium considered taking legal action because a character on the American soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" claimed that Grana Padano was not as excellent as Parmigiano Reggiano. Indeed, Grana Padano is one of the world’s oldest hard cheeses, created by the “Cistercensi” monks!



Parmigiano is the Italian adjective for the city of Parma and Reggiano is the adjective for the region of Reggio Emilia. On the other side, the name “Grana” means grainy, referred to the texture, and “Padano” comes from the Po River (in ancient Latin the name is Padus).



While they have some similarities (both are made from raw cow's milk, cooked and hard) Grana Padano and Parmigiano are two very distinct products! Both cheeses are DOP controlled (“Denominazione di Origine Protetta,” literally Protected Designation of Origin, POD in English). That means that they have specific methods for processing and are produced in designated geographical areas of Northern Italy. Grana Padano is produced exclusively in 5 regions in the north of Italy: Piemonte, Lombardia, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Trentino Alto Adige. Parmigiano Reggiano’s producing areas the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena and parts of the provinces of Mantova and Bologna, between the rivers Po and Reno. Parmigiano-Reggiano must age at least 12 months.



When you choose your Parmigiano Reggiano, pay attention to the labels! Parmigiano can have 3 different seals, as regulated by the Italian Consortium for Parmigiano-Reggiano, the highest authority. A red seal identifies the Parmigiano Reggiano aged for over 18 months; A silver seal categorizes cheese aged for over 22 months; A gold seal classifies a cheese matured for over 30 months. Grana Padano must age at least 9 months to more than 20. While Parmigiano Reggiano has a granular texture, is nutty, and fruity, Grana Padano is less crumbly and has a slightly sweeter, less intense flavor than Parmigiano. It is more affordable, but absolutely not inferior: Grana Padano is Italy’s best-selling Italian DOP cheese.



If you find the perfect, authentic Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, you are ready for “pastasciutta”, the queen of every Italian table: pasta, tomato sauce and a generous handful of ground Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano. If you are too busy to prepare your fresh tomato sauce from scratch, you can use our Agromonte Ready Cherry Tomato Sauce. Organic, simple, delicious!


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