One of the most appreciated and well-known Italian gastronomic products in Italy and abroad is Grana Padano, a cheese with a delicate flavor and strong aroma that, as the name clearly indicates, is made in the vast area of the Padana Plain, with its 27 provinces from Cuneo to Venice and from Trento to Forlì.
Among the Italian cheeses with protected designation of origin (PDO), Grana Padano is the one produced in the greatest quantity, with two types: “maggendo” if made from milk milked between spring and summer and “verengo” if made from milk milked in autumn and winter.
It is a semi-fat hard cheese, produced with cow’s milk from two daily milkings.
The shape – which has a golden, oily and thick crust – weighs between 24 and 40 kilos. The selection of Grana Padano foresees that the molds are adjusted with a kind of hammer and a special needle used to check the consistency and aroma. Only those that correspond to the standards set by law will be stamped with the four-leaf clover mark indicating the province and the cheese factory, and with the diamond-shaped mark that guarantees the correspondence with the typology characteristics and a writing that is repeated along the entire rind of the cheese.
Cow’s milk is heated to 31-33°C, whey and calf rennet are added. The curd is broken, drained, drained and drained and cooked at 53-55°C.
When the paste has become acidic and elastic, it is divided into molds which are then salted by immersing the molds in a salt-saturated brine for 25-30 days. The molds then undergo the curing process for a period that varies from 12 to at least 14 months.
The term “grana” was born to indicate a cheese characterized by the granular texture of the paste, produced in the Padana Plain until the 11th century.
The progressive diffusion of this cheese led to the development of its many varieties (Grana Lodigiano, Emiliano, Lombardo, Veneto, etc.).
In the 1950s, the designations of origin for cheeses were instituted and the recognition of the “Grana Padano” designation of origin was requested, since then all the varieties of grana have been unified under the term “Padano”.
At the table
Grana Padano is mostly used grated or in flakes. Its flavor does not overpower other flavors, so it is commonly used in the preparation of meat fillings, vegetables and omelets, although it is also used in flakes in starters and meat main courses such as carpaccio and beef chops.
Not everyone knows that there is also Grana Padano Trentino. It is a cheese similar to Grana Padano, the specification of “Trentino” indicates that it is made in the province of Trento using the milk of cows that graze in the surrounding alpine valleys. It has a more accentuated flavor and aroma.