GRANA PADANO PDO THE PERFECT CHEESE FOR ANY OCCASION
Grana Padano has been a part of Italy’s proud gastronomic heritage for almost 1.000 years.
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.