Grana Padano has been a part of Italy’s proud gas­tro­nomic her­itage for al­most 1.000 years.

All About Italy (USA) - - Editorial -

It is thought to have been first made in the Abbey of Chiar­avalle in 1135, when the Cis­ter­cian monks de­vel­oped an orig­i­nal recipe to use the ex­cess milk pro­duced in the area to cre­ate a cheese that could with­stand the text of time. The monks called it “Caseus Ve­tus” but the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, who could not speak Latin, named it “Grana”, due to its grainy struc­ture (“Grana” means “Grain” in Ital­ian), so dif­fer­ent from all other cheeses. To­day the pro­duc­tion method has hardly changed.

The char­ac­ter­is­tic con­sis­tency, the rec­og­niz­able shape, the unique fla­vor has meant that from the past un­til now and beyond, the name Grana Padano is undis­put­edly the syn­ony­mous with qual­ity and good­ness.

Strict dairy farm­ing prac­tices, in­clud­ing a spe­cial cat­tle diet, re­sults in a milk of unique fla­vor and nu­tri­tional value. Only raw par­tially skimmed milk from the Grana Padano pro­duc­tion area can be used. Af­ter nat­u­ral sep­a­ra­tion of the cream, the milk is poured into tra­di­tional cop­per vats and then pro­cessed: a nat­u­ral whey starter, de­riv­ing from the pre­vi­ous day cheese-mak­ing, is added along with the ren­net. Once the co­ag­u­la­tion has oc­curred, the curd is chopped into small grains by the aid of a man­ual in­stru­ment called “spino”. Heat­ing to 53°C fol­lows and then, af­ter a rest­ing

pe­riod of around an hour, the fresh twin wheels of cheese are col­lected, wrapped in linen cloths and placed into molds, where they re­ceive the ini­tial mark of ori­gin: small lozenges with al­ter­na­tively “Grana” and “Padano” writ­ten in­side and all the other signs ap­pear­ing on the crust ex­cept for the fire­brand. Fi­nally, be­fore the ag­ing process be­gins, the wheels are soaked in brine for around 23 days. The ag­ing process lasts for a min­i­mum of 9 to over 24 months. At 9 months, each wheel is care­fully tested for ap­pear­ance, aroma and tex­ture. This im­por­tant step is car­ried out ex­clu­sively by the im­par­tial ex­per­tise of the Con­sorzio Tutela Grana Padano (Pro­tec­tion Con­sor­tium) tech­ni­cians. Only the best wheels re­ceive the fire-branded logo of­fi­cially grad­ing them “GRANA PADANO” PDO cheese. This Pro­tec­tion Con­sor­tium, founded in 1954 and en­com­pass­ing all the pro­duc­ers, not only is re­spon­si­ble for the qual­ity of each wheel, but also promotes and pro­tects the name Grana Padano around the world, en­sur­ing the con­sumers that when­ever they buy a piece, they are deal­ing with a gen­uine Grana Padano PDO cheese. In 1996, The Euro­pean Union

awarded Grana Padano with the Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tion of Ori­gin Sta­tus. A sta­ple in Ital­ian cui­sine, it has a fine grainy struc­ture and a mel­low, tasty, yet never over­pow­er­ing, fla­vor, which evolves ac­cord­ing to its ag­ing and can be found in 3 vin­tages:

Grana Padano PDO- aged be­tween 9 and 16 months, the youngest Grana Padano is softer and less grainy than the more ma­ture ver­sions. Pale yellow in color, its taste is mild, milky and del­i­cate. At this age, it is per­fect for gratins, ideal as an ap­pe­tizer or used as shav­ings on a fresh salad or beef carpac­cio.

Grana Padano PDO “oltre 16 mesi”- with a soft straw-yellow color, Grana Padano “over 16 months” has a grainier con­sis­tency and crumbles when cut. The sweet­ness in its fla­vor is less no­tice­able and it has a stronger, though never over­pow­er­ing, tangy taste that make this cheese ideal for grat­ing or sim­ply as part of a cheese­board.

Grana Padano “Ris­erva” PDO - with over 20 months of ag­ing, Grana Padano “Ris­erva” fea­tures a grainy tex­ture with a clear flaky struc­ture and a dark, straw-yellow color. This cheese may ma­ture for over 24 months, giv­ing it a richer and fuller taste. Besides be­ing a spe­cial in­gre­di­ent in a great va­ri­ety of dishes, Grana Padano “Ris­erva” also works ex­tremely well when served as part of a lux­u­ri­ous cheese-board with nuts, fruits and chut­neys.

Due to these dif­fer­ent ag­ing stages, Grana Padano cheese is a very ver­sa­tile cheese, which can be served on its own or in­cluded in a va­ri­ety of recipes. This ver­sa­til­ity also en­ables Grana Padano to be paired with a great va­ri­ety of wines, from a sparkling white wine for an aper­i­tif to a dark and full­bod­ied red wine.

Grana Padano pos­sesses unique nu­tri­tional fea­tures such as qual­ity pro­teins, vi­ta­mins and min­eral salts, es­pe­cially cal­cium. It is an ex­cel­lent nat­u­ral, healthy and easy di­gestible food for ev­ery­body. It is also lac­tose free due to its pro­duc­tion char­ac­ter­is­tics and the long ag­ing process.

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