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.
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.
Our Favorite Parmesan Cheese Recipes
- Crispy Baked Parmesan Chicken
- Easy Chicken Parmesan
- Crispy Parmesan Potatoes
- Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
- Garlic Parmesan Wings