The 5 Most Known And Appreciated Italian Cheeses In The World
The Italian food tradition is based on many products, and, among these, Italian cheeses represent a point of reference because they are appreciated and consumed not only in our country, but also abroad.
Each cheese often brings with it not only a taste, a peculiar and unique taste, but the history of a land, the traditions of a population, production and conservation techniques handed down from generation to generation.
Here are the 5 most popular and appreciated Italian cheeses abroad.
Grana Padano is an Italian semi-hard cheese with low maturing, often comparable to Parmigiano Reggiano. Grana Padano has had a protected designation of origin since 1996 and is produced with cow’s milk produced in the Po River valley.
The name derives from the union of the Italian words grana, a reference to the characteristically grainy texture, and Padano, which refers to the geographical area of northern Italy (the Po River Valley).
Grana Padano is one of the first hard cheeses produced in the world, created almost 900 years ago by the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Chiaravalle, founded in 1135 near Milan. In 1477 it was already one of the most famous cheeses in Italy.
Going back to the present days, the numbers say that in 2017 Grana Padano reached a fantastic record: in fact, about 5 million forms were produced (with a precision of 4.942.054). In relation to the previous year, progress was 2.4% and around 1,800,000 were allocated abroad.
Parmigiano Reggiano is a semi-hard grainy cheese of Italian origin. It takes its name from the production area, an area that includes the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Modena (all in Emilia-Romagna) and Mantua (in Lombardy, but only the area south of the Po river). According to Italian law, only cheese produced in these provinces can be labeled as “Parmigiano-Reggiano”, and European legislation classifies the name as a protected designation of origin.
62% of the Parmigiano Reggiano market is represented by Italy. The countries where it is most exported are France (9800 tons in 2017), Germany (9,460 tons), United States (9,075 tons), United Kingdom (6,163 tons) and Canada (2,380 tons).
Mozzarella comes from the Neapolitan dialect and refers to the same shape as the product, diminutive of mozza (“cut”), or mozzare (“to cut”) derived, precisely, from the processing method. The term was first mentioned in 1570, quoted in a cookbook by Bartolomeo Scappi, which says “cream milk, fresh butter, ricotta, fresh mozzarella and milk”. The historian Monsignor Alicandri, in the “Metropolitan Church of Capua”, states that in the 12th century the Monastery of San Lorenzo, in Capua, offered to the pilgrims a piece of bread with trimmed or provatura.
There are about 100,000 tons of mozzarella exported only in 2017, or 10 percent more than the previous year. The main export markets of one of the 5 most known and appreciated Italian cheeses in the world are Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany.
Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese, often used to be grated, made with sheep’s milk (in fact, its name refers to the word ‘pecora’ i.e. ‘sheep’). In ancient times, Roman pecorino was a staple food for legionaries of ancient Rome.
Today it is still produced according to the original recipe: most of its production takes place in Sardinia. On May 1st, Roman families traditionally eat pecorino with fresh broad beans during a day trip to the countryside.
About 22,000 tonnes are exported in 2017, almost 23% more than the previous year. The main foreign markets in which Pecorino Romano is exported are: USA, France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands.
Gorgonzola is a cheese with typical bluish veins, produced with cow’s milk. It can be buttery or firm, crumbly and quite salty and some versions include the addition of cream or mascarpone.
Gorgonzola has been produced for centuries in Gorgonzola, near Milan, acquiring its greenish marinade in the 11th Century. However, the claim of the city of geographical origin is disputed by other localities. Today it is produced mainly in the regions of northern Italy, in particular Piedmont and Lombardy. Whole cow’s milk is used, together with starter bacteria, along with the spores of the Penicillium glaucum mold.
About 20 thousand tons are exported in 2017, a more or less stable result compared to 2016. The main countries are: Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain and Switzerland.