Grana Padano vs Parmigiano Reggiano: What's the Difference?

parmigiano and grana padano

The Parmigiano Reggiano and the Grana Padano are often considered as two cheeses with very similar characteristics and interchangeable in many recipes. Yet, this is not completely true. Let's see why.

Originally, the two cheeses were produced in the same way and in the same region, the Pianura Padana, chich is a vast area covering several regions of Northern Italy (Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Lombardia, Piemonte, Trentino). But at some point in history, the people of Emilia Romagna began to produce their own cheese and called it Parmigiano Reggiano. Although the two hard cheeses have the same grainy structure and the same white to yellowish color, there are some important differences which distinguish Grana Padano from Parmigiano Reggiano:
 


Product
 

Parmigiano Reggiano

Grana Padano

Daily processing

Parmigiano is made only once a day, with the milk of the previous evening semi-skimmed in special tanks, which is added directly to the whole of the morning milking

It is used raw milk up to two milkings of the same day, partially skimmed
Milk

Semi-skimmed

Whole
PreservativesForbidden

Preservatives allowed because the use of grass stored in silos involves greater risk of contamination.
The lysozyme is used as antifermentative, to prevent the formation of bacterial cultures within the wheels of cheese during the long period of maturation

Origin of the rennet

Animal (calf)

Animal, vegetable or bacterial rennet
Animal feeding

Dry feed, green fodder and pasture hay

Use of silage obtained from the whole plant of the cereal chopped and stored in silos

Aging

From 12 to more than 30 months

Minimum 9 months
Area of production

The provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, Mantova

Some provinces of Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Trentino.
Label

Not mandatory because it contains only milk, salt and rennet

It is mandatory for the presence of the lysozyme which is indicated with the abbreviation E1105

 

parmigiano vs grana cheese

To sum up:

  • Parmigiano Reggiano is a bit fattier than Grana Padano as for the production of the latter both the morning and the evening milk are skimmed.
  • Grana Padano matures faster and gets already the denomination “Riserva” when it is aged 20 months whereas Parmigiano Reggiano obtains its noblest flavor at the age of 48 months.
  • Although the cows whose milk produces Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano are mainly fed fresh grass and hay, there are some differences in forage, also due to the diverse quality and composition of the meadows where the cows graze.

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