How do I recognise Organic Parmesan Cheese? A question many people ask, but to which few give a precise answer. Actually, there are a few simple tricks with which we can easily recognise REAL Parmigiano Reggiano DOP.
Let’s start by saying that Parmigiano Reggiano is protected both by the DOP mark issued by the European Union (Protected Designation of Origin) and by the protection of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium (but we will discuss these aspects in more detail in a separate article). Two ‘guarantees’ that provide the consumer with an already considerable security of purchase, something that not all cheeses can afford to provide.
Having said this brief introduction, we will list below (without going into too much technical detail, because you won’t need to) the 4 main and immediate aspects to keep an eye on in order to recognise a true Organic Parmesan Cheese during the purchase phase.
The 4 fundamental points for recognising REAL Organic Parmesan Cheese
1) Dotted “Parmigiano Reggiano” writing on the rind.
When you buy Parmigiano Reggiano you almost always find pieces that have part of the rind. This is not a ploy to save on pulp; on the contrary, this way the product keeps better and is immediately recognisable. You will see the typical dotted mark, which extends along the entire ‘curved’ side of the whole wheel. This branding was devised by the Consortium and the producers to have an unambiguous mark that the consumer could identify.
This is also the reason why we recommend sizes of 1 kg or at least 500 grams, precisely because they provide tangible (and visible) proof of originality, thanks to the presence of the rind. Smaller pieces are almost always without rind, as a practical matter of cutting. This does not mean that all 200 gram pieces (to give an example) are fakes, but they are certainly less recognisable, more expensive and less sustainable cuts.
2) Golden/ Straw yellow colour. The typical colour of Parmigiano Reggiano cannot be confused, we have all learnt to recognise it by now. If you notice much stronger yellow colouring or too much tending to a dull white, there is probably something wrong.
3) Ingredients: milk, rennet, salt.
Parmigiano Reggiano, as we have explained many times in other articles, is an extraordinarily genuine product, precisely because it manages to extract a sensational flavour from the combination of just three products and to preserve itself without the need for additional chemical agents. If you notice other ingredients on the label besides milk rennet and salt, you are not buying Parmesan cheese.
4) Bio Label.
Clearly, if you are buying organic Parmesan cheese, you will not be able to ‘settle’ for the characteristics of non-organic Parmesan cheese, but you will need to see a recognised organic mark on the packaging. There are many organisations at European level that issue organic certifications, but one of the most widespread (the one we also use at the Caseificio Bio Reggiani) is the CCPB.
Needless to say, the additional guarantee of quality and authenticity conferred by organic certification makes Parmigiano Reggiano an even more exceptional product than it already is.
We hope with this article we have clarified your doubts and, above all, provided you with practical tools for more careful and safe shopping!