Three Ancient Parmigiano Reggianos and Their Revival

Parmigiano Reggiano, as the name suggests, is a cow’s milk cheese first produced in the Duchy of Parma, an area that lies between the small Italian villages of Parma and Reggio Emilia. As the name doesn’t suggest, this cheese originated in farming monastic communities over 900 years ago. That’s just a little fun fact about the humble roots of this cheese, now monitored since 1928 by the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano, which sets and enforces the standards for the PDO (protected designations of origin) as well as sponsors’ marketing activities. 

Traditionally, the cheese was made with raw milk from three ancient breeds: Bruna Alpinas (brown cow); Vacche Rosse (red cow) and Bianco Modenese (white cow). The brown cow offers a harmoniously balanced milk with high nutritional benefits. The red cow, often acknowledged as the “mother breed of Parmigiano Reggiano,” lends a sweetness to the cheese.  The white cow has a great fat content to protein index ratio (and fruitful flavor!).  

So, depending on the qualities a cheesemaker is looking for, they can choose accordingly.  

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