Parmigiano-Reggiano is a member of the Grana family of very hard Italian cheeses and it has been produced in small-size dairy farms for many hundreds of years. In the English-speaking world this famous cheese is generally known as Parmesan.
Parmesan cheese is made in squat drums which look rather like small beer barrels. The rind is a shiny golden brown color and has the name of the cheese printed allover it. The paste is a good straw-yellow color with a grainy, flaky, and brittle texture which hardens as the cheese matures. The maturation time is 24 months or more.
The cheese has a radial grain which makes it difficult to cut with a knife. Instead it is split open with a special wide-bladed tool and irregular pieces are broken off. The aroma of Parmesan is unmistakable. The flavor is wonderfully full and fruity with a salty tang. There are crunchy casein crystals and a lingering after taste.