Grana Padano vs Parmigiano Reggiano: What's the Difference?
The Parmigiano Reggiano and the Grana Padano are considered interchangeable in many recipes. Yet, they are quite different.
The Parmigiano Reggiano and the Grana Padano are often considered as two cheeses with very similar characteristics and are interchangeable in many recipes, and yet this is not completely true. Here’s why:
Originally, the two cheeses were produced in the same way and in the same region, the Pianura Padana, 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 that distinguish Grana Padano from Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmigiano is made only once a day, with the milk from the previous evening semi-skimmed in special tanks. This is then added directly to the whole of the morning milking.
Raw milk is used - up to two milkings of the same day, partially skimmed.
Preservatives allowed because the use of grass stored in silos involves greater risk of contamination.
Origin of the rennet
Animal, vegetable or bacterial rennet
Dry feed, green fodder, and pasture hay.
Use of silage obtained from the whole plant of the cereal, which is chopped and stored in silos.
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.
Not mandatory because it contains only milk, salt and rennet.
It is mandatory for the presence of the lysozyme, which is indicated by the abbreviation E1105.
To sum up:
Parmigiano is a bit fattier than Grana. For the production of Grana, both the morning and evening milk are skimmed.
Grana Padano matures faster and is regarded as “Riserva” when it is aged 20 months, whereas Parmigiano Reggiano obtains its noblest flavor at 48 months.
Although the cows whose milk produces both Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano are mainly fed fresh grass and hay, there are some differences in forage, mainly due to the diverse quality and composition of the meadows where the cows graze.