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Old 12-09-2010, 03:28 AM   #1
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Is the hardness of Parmesan a measure of quality?

Hi,

I just love Parmesan (the real stuff, Parmigiano-Reggiano), but find the really hard stuff a nuisance to grate.
I once had a hand-held battery-operated machine, but it was fragile and complicated to clean, and I'm not sure this is the best solution.

So I use a grater that looks like this, only narrower with upraised grating around the holes for a fine, almost powerdery texture:
http://www.kitchenfoods.co.uk/media/...n%20grater.jpg

An Italian friend recently gave me some cheese that was much less hard then what I usually find in the stores, and I very much enjoyed it.
But, I was wondering if connoisseurs consider the softer cheese of lesser quality.

Best regards,
Alex R.

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Old 12-09-2010, 08:17 AM   #2
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Generally the longer it's aged, the better, as the flavor concentrates and improves.

Aging will harden the cheese.

Good parm should be hard, but not to hard that it's difficult to grate. If you find it difficult, it's probably gotten old and dried out after being cut.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:31 AM   #3
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We buy a softer (eating) Parmigiano for munching / snacking and grate it after it has hardened. In grated form the more dried (harder) Parmigiano keeps better than the softer one.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:48 AM   #4
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The answer to your question is: NO. The "hardness" could be mistaken for dryness due to improper storage
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:34 AM   #5
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You beat me to it, Franca.

Really good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can be sliced easily with a cheese plane, and is best eaten like most of us do other cheeses... with fruit and/or crackers. This cheese will also grate, but in longer, softer threads, rather than the "coarse salt" texture many of us are accustomed to from the more dried out cheese.

Fresh Parmigiano cheese is one of the great cheeses, imho.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefJune View Post
You beat me to it, Franca.

Really good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can be sliced easily with a cheese plane, and is best eaten like most of us do other cheeses... with fruit and/or crackers. This cheese will also grate, but in longer, softer threads, rather than the "coarse salt" texture many of us are accustomed to from the more dried out cheese.

Fresh Parmigiano cheese is one of the great cheeses, imho.
You do have a way with words...I love reading your posts.
Can't wait to read your cookbook Feastivals Cooks at home. A Christmas present from a dear friend.
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:53 PM   #7
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I use Parm-Reggiano exclusively. I find the national brands to be waxy, too salty and less flavorful. It can be a pain to grate, especially if you are feeding a few. I have a friend who gets his from an Italian grocer and asks to have it grated there and freezes it, only leaving small portions out. I, on the other hand, bare down and use good'ol elbow grease. I have a very cheap flat grater that works fine, and I also bring the mother chunk to the table and let whoever whants some grate it straight on to their food.
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:02 PM   #8
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Grating a few pounds of parmigiano and Locatelli is about the only thing I do with the Kitchen Aid grater attachment (RVSA).
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Old 12-09-2010, 03:24 PM   #9
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Many people, including moi, prefer an aged cheese because of the perceived improvement in taste.

Cheese ages and hardens in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

So, yes, better cheese can often be harder.

Yet once it gets out of the cave and cut, nature takes it's course and it dries out.

If you don't buy from a cheesemonger you trust, you may not have any idea of how old the cheese you are buying is.
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:11 PM   #10
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To keep cheese fresher for longer, wrap tightly in saran type wrap so there is NO air inside.
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