Hard italian cheeses serve as a delicious finishing touch for savory recipes of all kinds and offer a pungent variation of flavor in cheese boards and charcuterie boards.
Italian Hard CheesesItalian hard cheeses include Pecorino, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Grana Padano. The time-intensive production process of these firm cheeses includes first separating the curd and whey. Once the curd is isolated, it is pressed before being waxed or brined in salt water to create a hard rind in which the cheese will mature for a minimum of three months, and sometimes up to 40 months.
Italian Hard Cheese AgeingIdeal for grating or shredding, hard cheeses from Italy have a firm, compact paste and texture thanks to their longer aging periods, between two and 36 months. As aged cheeses mature, nearly all of the milk's moisture (whey) evaporates, resulting in a crumbly texture, often developing crunchy salt crystals with age, that break off into shards. The maturing process of Italian hard cheeses also imparts the intense, nutty flavor these famous cheeses are known for. Generally, the longer a cheese has aged, the flavor becomes more intense and the texture and mouthfeel become less creamy. The flavor of Italian hard cheeses can be described as "umami" or a salty, almost meaty flavor with a mild tang and sharp finish.
Types of Italian Hard Cheese
Among the hard cheeses made in Italy, the three most popular are Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Grana Padano DOP, and Pecorino. Pecorino cheese, made with sheep's milk is produced throughout Italy with versions including Pecorino Romano from Rome, Pecorino Toscana from Tuscany, and Pecorino Sardo from Sardinia),
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