Parmesan Cheese and its Different Aging Periods: Understanding the Differences and Why They Matter

Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a delectable, crumbly cheese bursting with flavor.

Countless adjectives could be used to describe its unique qualities, and entire days could be spent exploring new ways to express its exceptional taste.

However, it’s crucial to recognize that not all Parmesan cheeses share the same exact characteristics.

In fact, there is one fundamental element in the production of this extraordinary cheese that determines the intensity of its flavor and the unique texture that distinguishes it: aging.

Aging is an essential concept when dealing with large, hard cheeses like Parmesan.

There is no single “best” aging period; rather, the characteristics of the cheeses vary depending on the maturation time. This results in a transformation of aromas, flavors, and fragrances, creating unique sensory experiences.

The Value of Time: Understanding the Aging Process

Patience is a virtue during the aging process, the most critical phase in Parmesan cheese production.

It is during this time that the cheese develops its distinctive organoleptic characteristics and its grainy texture, evidenced by the unmistakable flake break.

Like all fine and genuine products, Parmesan cheese has a long and slow story, respectful of traditions, in harmony with the natural rhythm of the seasons and nature.

After the processing phase, the Parmesan cheese wheels are meticulously arranged in long rows on shelves in the aging warehouse.

Here, they rest for the entire duration of the aging process on wooden planks supported by a sturdy metal structure known as a “scalera.”

Parmesan Cheese

Aging Periods and Their Characteristics 12 to 19 Months

Parmesan cheese DOP reaches maturity after a minimum aging period of 12 months, which is necessary to develop the right consistency and flavor.

Cheese aged for between 12 and 19 months has a simple flavor with distinct notes of milk and butter.

The texture of the paste is soft, while the aroma is delicate and light, making it ideal for less experienced palates.

20 to 24 Months

With an aging period of between 20 and 24 months, Parmesan cheese unleashes its distinctive characteristics.

To the palate, it appears more compact, while maintaining its peculiar crumbliness and graininess, while its flavor becomes more intense and savory.

This maturation phase makes Parmesan cheese particularly suitable for accompanying first courses and side dishes.

Parmesan cehees

35 to 45 Months

With prolonged aging, between 35 and 45 months, Parmesan cheese reaches an extraordinary aroma.

Its texture becomes more crumbly and grainy, transforming it into a cheese with a unique profile.

Parmesan cheese aged between 35 and 45 months, although less common on the market, is a true delight for lovers of this cheese.

The shape appears compact, dry, and grainy, while the flavor becomes intense and decisive, with notes reminiscent of dried fruit and spices

46 to 79 Months

Beyond 40 months, the aging of Parmesan cheese reaches an extraordinary flavor, creating a product with truly unique aromatic characteristics.

These ages are extremely rare, as they require very long periods and constant, prolonged attention in every phase of the aging process.

Years of patience and waiting result in a cheese with an unmistakable flavor: an extremely intense aroma with hints of spices and smoke, making this cheese a niche designed for true connoisseurs and those who want to savor an authentic Italian excellence.

It is ideal for pairing with wines such as Marsala and Vermouth to enhance the sweet-savory contrast in an extraordinary way.

Parmesan cheese

Over 100 Months

Did you know that Parmesan cheese can be aged for over 100 months?

In this period, time and nature collaborate for eight long years, giving life to a cheese with an authentic and unforgettable taste.

These cheese wheels are absolute rarities, with an intense and robust flavor, yet extraordinarily balanced and harmonious.

The presence of a final hint of sweetness then surprises and conquers the most devoted Parmesan cheese palates.

The aromas are well-defined, with sensations similar to those of spices, tobacco, and even, in some cases, cocoa.

This long aging period represents an authentic gastronomic experience for Parmesan cheese connoisseurs.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 875946