Gorgonzola vs Parmesan


Parmesan (commonly refer to Parmigiano Reggiano) and gorgonzola are both the Italian cheese that has a long history to trace. They are both certified PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product regulated under the EU law, where the cheese can only be made under strict criteria in the restricted region in Italy.

Therefore, more often, there is a lot of “fake” imitation across the globe. So much so, these imitations have formed themselves a new industry that worth millions of dollars.

GorgonzolaParmesan
OriginGorgonzola town, Milan, ItalyParma, Emilia Romagna, Italy.
TextureSemi-soft, firmHard, firm, gritty
TasteButtery, sweet, nutty, sharpFruity/nutty, savory, umami, rich, bitter
ColorWhite, blue-greenPale yellow, straw
Source of MilkCow milkItalian Red Cow’s milk
PasteurisationYesNo
Lactose concentration<4 gram per 100g0-5 gram per 100g
Histamine level~150 mg/kgUp to 2100 mg/kg
Aging Time2-3 months2-3 years
Calories 357 kcal per 100g392 kcal per 100g
Price (per pound)$12 (This one via Amazon)$17 (This one via Amazon)

The History and origin

The parmesan cheese can be traced back to as early as the Middle Ages (5th-15 century), after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was the monk lived in the Parma-Reggio region who started making the hard cheese, read more.

Gorgonzola, on the other hand, is arguably started in the 11th century in a small town named Gorgonzola in the province of Milan. As the tale goes, it was a dairyman in Gorgonzola who discovered the cheese accidentally.

Manufacturing and ingredients used

The cheesemaking process for both is quite different in their own way. Parmesan uses the unpasteurized raw whole milk mixed with naturally skimmed milk. Also, the animal rennet and starter whey were added in the process. For the aging time, the cheese will normally be left for 2-3 years.

For Gorgonzola, pasteurized whole milk is used to mix with animal rennet, starter culture (bacteria) and Penicillium roqueforti. The cheese will be punched with holes for oxygen to get to the mold Penicillium inside the cheese, and to create the signature blue-veining. The cheese will be aged for 2-3 months.

How and when to use

The well-aged classic parmesan cheese will have a strong fruity and umami taste, making it a great choice to be used in soup cooking, grated over pasta, go with crackers, macaroni, pie, pizza, dessert, and many popular dishes.

For 3-months-old gorgonzola (2-months is milder), it’s heavier in the buttery taste, sweet and tangy. Therefore, it’s excellent to go with sauce, cracker, bread, pasta, sandwich, burger, pizza, fruit, salad, or even mix with other milder cheese.

Nutrition – which one is healthier?

Gorgonzola (per 100g)Parmesan (per 100g)
Protein (g)25.035.8
Fat (g)28.5725.0
Carbohydrate (g)3.573.2
Sugar (g)3.570.11
Calcium (mg)5361184
Sodium (mg)9291175
Iron (mg)00.82
Vitamin A (IU)1071781
Vitamin B-12 (µg)1.2
Vitamin C (mg)00
Cholesterol (mg)8968

The data (for gorgonzola and parmesan) above is obtained via the USDA Nutrient Database.

Both are undoubtedly healthy cheese, but if you would like to put them side by side, which one is healthier? Nutrition-wise, parmesan cheese is said to be slightly better than the gorgonzola in overall. In fact, parmesan cheese has higher protein, lower fat/cholesterol, and with a double calcium level of the same weight.

Histamin

Both of these cheeses are having a considerable amount of histamine concentration. Given that 150 mg/kg (or 68 mg/lb) for Gorgonzola, and up to 2100 mg/kg (or 953 mg/lb) for parmesan. The recommendation level for low histamine food should be below 200 mg/kg, and it should even be lesser for people with histamine intolerance.

In addition, the longer aging time and improper storing (e.g. fluctuate in temperature) may usually lead to an increase of histamine buildup due to microbial activity. So, make sure your unfinished cheese is always properly stored and refrigerated.

See histamine in Feta and other cheeses.

Lactose and FODMAP

For lactose and FODMAP, both of these cheeses are low in volume. Very often, lactose used as an indication for FODMAP concentration in cheese, they are both safe to be eaten for people with IBS or lactose intolerance.

You can learn more about gorgonzola FODMAP or parmesan FODMAP on my other articles.

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