It's difficult to imagine life without parmesan cheese. So tangy and savory, with flavorful crystals – it's hard not to think that pasta and pizza are just excuses for the chance to eat more parmesan.
This legendary Italian-style cheese is beloved all over the world for its gritty texture and nutty, sweet, complex flavor. Absolutely integral to Italian cuisine, gourmet chefs and home cooks have been grating, slicing and baking with parmesan for centuries.
Parmesan hails from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, but here in Wisconsin, our Cheesemakers give the Old World stuff a run for its money - and we've got the awards to prove it.
You know how essential parmesan is to pasta, pizza, and minestrone. But parmesan can work its magic on almost anything. Sprinkle it on cauliflower as its roasting and you get a beautiful, caramelized crust of nutty flavor. Or add it to roasted potatoes, eggplant, and Caesar salad – parmesan makes anything better. Or do as the Italians do and serve parmesan slices for dessert with fresh figs, walnuts and sweet Tuscan dessert wine.
When it comes to beverages, the king of Italian-style cheeses prefers wine. Chianti, pinot noir, malbec, and riesling are a great match for parmesan's strong flavor profile. And grappa, sherry, and madeira are perfect if you like the strong stuff. And if you must have beer, try an amber or brown ale, cider, or an IPA.
Parmesan cheese is a hard, dry cheese variety made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow's milk. It has a complex flavor that is often described as both nutty and fruity, and an extremely granular texture that is the product of aging.
Traditional parmesan cheese is made with only salt and rennet, along with milk from cows that have been fed a strict diet. After the milk is coagulated with calf rennet and fermented whey, the mixture is heated to create cheesy granules which are eventually wrapped in cloth and immersed in saltwater to brine for 20 to 25 days. Following the brine bath, the cheese is aged for 12 months or longer on wooden shelves in an aging room, where the cheese is periodically turned.
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Check out this cheese fact: In 2018, a Wisconsin cheesemaker took home the prize for the world's best parmesan cheese. That means, with all due respect to our Italian cheesemaking friends, Wisconsin rules.
Defying expectations with dang good cheese – that's what Wisconsin cheesemakers have been doing for 175 years. Plain and simple, we want to make the best cheese in the world. That's why 90% of the milk in our state goes to cheese production, and why we make more varieties, types, and styles of cheese than anywhere else in America. It's why we're home to the only Master Cheesemaker program in the world outside Switzerland, and why we've won more awards for our cheese than any other state or country on earth.
So next time you're shopping for parmesan for your eggplant lasagna, your summer salad, or your wine and cheese party, try a homegrown wedge of parmesan from Wisconsin – the state of cheese.
Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?
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In Wisconsin, we make more flavors, varieties, and styles of cheese than anywhere else in the world. We believe in tradition, producing everything from Italian classics, like parmesan and ricotta, to swiss cheese and cheddar varieties. But every Wisconsin cheesemaker is an innovator as well, which is why we have so many Wisconsin originals, like colby and muenster. Whether it’s a grilled cheese sandwich, potatoes au gratin, or a charcuterie board, Wisconsin cheese makes every dish and recipe tastier.