Parmesan Cheese Guide

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Parmesan cheese is a delicious and distinctively flavored cheese. The salty taste pairs wonderfully with the sweet, acidic flavor of tomato sauce, which is why it is so often used in Italian cooking.

Though we tend to associate it with pasta, parmesan is much more than simply a topping for spaghetti and meatballs. It can be used in a wide variety of ways, can be found in many forms, and does have specific storage needs. Let’s take a minute to cover some basic information about this tasty cheese.

Shredded parmesan cheese on a cutting board

What Is The Difference Between Shredded and Grated Parmesan

Grated parmesan is probably what you are must accustomed to seeing and using. It is grated into a fine, almost powdery, consistency and is often used on pastas. This is also the same parmesan cheese you would see in a pizza parlour to sprinkle on your favorite pizza recipe!

Shredded parmesan is, well, shredded into thin strands. Since parmesan is such a strong hard cheese, we generally use a finer shred. It is a great garnish to Tomato Soup and of course Caesar Salad and adds a distinctive “bite” of pungent flavor and a kick of salt.

How to Choose Parmesan Cheese

Age – As parmesan ages, its fragrance and internal consistency change. Older cheeses have a creamier quality that many experts prefer. Check the pin-dot writing on the side of the wheel to ensure that it is not covered by oblique lines.

Those lines indicate that it is not actually qualified as parmigiano reggiano. If it doesn’t qualify, it has not been aged the necessary 12 months. Aging should range from 18 to 24 months for the best flavor.

Color – The cheese should be the color of straw. It can be a pale beige all the way to a deeper yellow. Color should always be uniform throughout the cheese.

How to Store Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese needs to be stored in a dry place. Slices, shreds or grated cheese that has been vacuum-packed or sealed can be stored in the refrigerator for a period of a few months (I use a Foodsaver vacuum sealer for absolutely everything). If it is NOT vacuum packed, then be sure to allow the cheese to breathe by loosely wrapping the cheese before storing it in the refrigerator. I buy cheese storage bags for more expensive cheeses (like real fresh parmesan) as they seem to keep it fresher longer and cheese is not cheap!

How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last?

Does Parmesan Cheese Go Bad? Yes, but not as quickly as standard cheese. Unopened parmesan cheese will last from 7 to 9 months in the fridge. Once opened, parmesan cheese will last for about a month.

Shredded parmesan cheese doesn’t last as long as a brick or wheel of it. The package should have a ‘use by’ label to let you know how long it lasts – about 5-7 days after being opened.

So, there you have it! A quick tutorial on an amazing and popular cheese! Now go make a delicious Italian dinner – like shrimp scampi or one pot pasta!

Our Favorite Parmesan Cheese Recipes


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Parmesan Cheese Shredded on a wooden board

This guide to parmesan cheese will teach you about shredded and grated parmigano, how to store it, how long parmesan cheese lasts, and how to choose a wheel or brick of parmesan cheese! #spendwithpennies #parmesancheese #cheese #parmigano #parm
This guide to parmesan cheese will teach you about shredded and grated parmigano, how to store it, how long parmesan cheese lasts, and how to choose a wheel or brick of parmesan cheese! #spendwithpennies #parmesancheese #cheese #parmigano #parm

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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  1. I really enjoyed this article! I shred my cheeses myself. I read somewhere that the shredded cheese is sprayed with a preservative for longer shelf life. And speaking about shelf life the grated stuff in a can should not be considered food! This is a great read for beginning cooks. Please do more articles like this one! Thanks or sharing with everyone!Barb

    1. Thanks Barbara! We love using fresh grated parmesan as well. You will have to check back, we have some more great articles coming this summer!