In the US, people are often confused about the “Parmesan” cheese and the real Parmigiano-Reggiano, in which both are essentially not the same.
Cheddar, on the other hand, is one of the most popular cheese in the US. Like Parmigiano, it comes with a hard texture and often used in many dishes. Below, we will list out some similarities and differences between these two most sought-after cheeses.
|Parmigiano Reggiano||Cheddar Cheese|
|Origin||Parma, Emilia Romagna, Italy.||Cheddar, Somerset, England.|
|Texture||Hard, firm, gritty||Hard, slightly crumbly|
|Taste||Rich, sharp, savory, fruity/nutty||Mild, sharp, light bitter, tangy|
|Color||Pale yellow, straw||Pale yellow, orange, white|
|Source of Milk||Italian red cow’s milk||Cow milk|
|Lactose Content||<1 mg||<1 mg|
|Histamine (mg/kg)||Up to 581 mg/kg||Up to 2100 mg/kg|
|Aging Time||12-36 months||3-24 months|
|Calories per 100g||402 kcal||403 kcal|
|Price per pound||$11 (Get one via Amazon)||$5.36|
The Origin and History
The origin of Parmigiano Reggiano can be dated back as early as 476 AD during the Middle Ages (5th – 15th centuary), in a region around the Parma and Emilia Romagna. It was the monks who started the practice and eventually become the well-known Parmigiano Reggiano. Given the close ties with French and local dialect, the cheese is later known as Parmesan.
Cheddar, or Cheddar cheese, has a historical record since the 12th century in a region called Somerset in southwest England. There is evidence suggesting that could be the Romans who brought the recipe from Franch.
How it’s Made
Parmigiano Reggiano DOP is made of unpasteurized Italian red cow’s milk, in particular, whole milk mixed with skimmed milk. Starter whey, salt, and calf rennet (therefore not vegetarian) are added in the manufacturing process. The cheese will be aged for a minimum of 1 year, and up to a maximum of 3 years. After that, the cheese will be classified as follow:
- Minumum – 12 months
- Vecchio – 18-24 months
- Stravecchio – 24-36 months
Cheddar is not a DOP product, so, different places may have different methods/ingredients to prepare them. But most commonly, it’s made from pasteurized (sometimes unpasteurized) cow’s milk. Starter, salt, and rennet (can be either vegetable or animal rennet) are added in the process (1). Eventually, the cheese will be left aging for 3 – 24 months, depends on the variety.
Texture and Taste
Parmigiano Reggiano and Cheddar are both the hard cheese. For texture, Parmigiano is firm and solid whereas Cheddar is hard but slightly crumblier. Both are giving a strong, sharp, sweet, gritty, and pungent taste. However, Parmigiano Reggiano has an extra fruity/nutty taste goes with your tongue.
What about mozzarella? See Mozzarella vs Gouda.
Given a longer aging time, Parmigiano is having a stronger savory (umami), tangy taste compared to Cheddar, or the bitterness some say. The taste is corresponding to the level of peptides formed during the aging process.
For color, they both shared a similar straw-like pale yellow colors. The color is slightly different from place to place though, which can be due to the different ingredients used, bacteria involved, and manufacturing procedure.
How and When to Use
Parmigiano Reggiano is often grated over the Italian dishes, soup, risotto, pasta, salad, roasted, or eaten on its own. The rind can be used in making the soup creamier and tastier. Here are some of the recipes for making use of Parmigiano Reggiano in the kitchen.
As for Cheddar, there are literally hundreds of ways to enjoy this cheese with. You can use it for dessert, sprinkle atop dishes, paired with crackers and biscuit, mixed with salad, used as a sauce, go with pasta, pizza, sandwich, soup, you name it.
The nutrition info can be varied for different variety and producers of the cheese. Below, I sum up the standard nutrition value obtained from the USDA for Cheddar cheese (2), and nutrition data from the Parmigiano Reggiano official site, which corresponds to the USDA data (3).
|Parmigiano Reggiano per 100g||Cheddar Cheese per 100g|
|Vitamin A (µg)||430||337|
|Vitamin B-12 (µg)||1.7||1.1|
|Vitamin K (µg)||1.6||2.4|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.55||0.71|
By comparing the Parmigiano Reggiano with Cheddar cheese in 100g, the data showed that Parmigiano contains lesser fat and sugar, but having a higher protein and calcium value. Likewise for the other minerals and vitamins as stated above.
Due to the catabolize of lactose into lactic acid by the bacteria, both of these cheeses are having a very low lactose content (<1mg). In fact, most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 24 g of lactose (or 2 cups of milk), according to Dairy Nutrition. These cheese are safe to eat.
As for people with histamine intolerance, both of these cheeses are not recommended to eat. Since the fermented and aged food usually come with a high level of histamine, as stated in the table above, Cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano may contain up to 953 mg/lb and 264 mg/lb of histamine respectively. It also depends on how long they have been aged.
Depends on aging time, the price of Parmigiano Reggiano can be anywhere from $11 up to $34 per pound. Likewise, the normal Cheddar can cost you an average of $5-7 per pound, but with a longer aging time, the price can get really expensive, such as this one.