Kefalotyri vs. Parmesan

*Parmesan also called Parmigiano-Reggiano PDO, I am going to stick with Parmesan in this article.

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Kefalotyri and parmesan are both hard and gritty aged cheese that tastes super delicious. Kefalotyri may not be as popular as parmesan, but I can assure you the flavor are fairly strong too. You can substitute parmesan for kefalotyri if you can’t find either one of them.

Kefalotyri is a traditional Greek-Cypriot cheese made from sheep or goat milk, or both. Parmesan is an Italian cheese made from cow milk. Kefalotyri tastes salty, sharp, pleasant sweet, and with hints of tanginess of sheep milk. Parmesan tastes rich, sharp, buttery, and savory with fruity & nutty notes.

Parmesan does melt okay-ish but kefalotyri doesn’t actually melt, or melt very poorly. This is very similar to another Greek cheese you probably know – feta – which is also made from sheep-goat milk and doesn’t melt. The bad meltability actually makes Kefalotyri good for pan frying or grilling.

Kefalotyri is used in a popular dish called Saganaki. It is a fried or flamed floured Kefalotyri in butter which serves as an appetizer in Greek cuisine.

How is Kefalotyri different?

Kefalotyri is a hard cheese that aged for a minimum of 2 months, may up to a few years.

Looking at that Saganaki image above actually reminded me of mozzarella stick – is mozzarella stick good for you? explained.

The traditional kefalotyri is made using unpasteurized milk, which may contain harmful bacteria. But those that you normally get from the gourmet stores in the US are made from pasteurized milk as required by FDA.

The longer the kefalotyri aged, the sharper the taste. Younger kefalotyri is a little softer, taste more milky and less aromatic.

Kefalotyri is served a little different from parmesan. Other than Saganaki, it can be grated on top of various dishes. Thanks to its bad meltability and hard texture, you can slice it thin to serve with salad, cook with proteins and vegetables, or use in desserts. You can also enjoy kefalotyri by itself, the savory taste pairs really well with fruit and wine.

What about Parmesan?

Guess you probably heard of it before, parmesan is quite a popular cheese for – first the good taste and second its expensive price tag. In Italy, the authentic PDO-protected version is called Parmigiano-Reggiano, where the cheese will typically have to age for about 2-4 years to build up the unique fruity/nutty taste naturally. It’s a long time to wait!

The next important question, what about the imitation?

A lot of cheaper imitation that don’t taste half as good. To save you from the hassle, here is a trusted source of authentic parmesan that aged for 24 months you can get now on Amazon, I put up a link here for you. The parmesan sends directly from Parma, Italy.

According to the EU and PDO legislation, the cheese can only be made in the Italy province of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, and Mantua.

Parmesan is made from only 3 simple ingredients – milk, salt and rennet (an enzyme harvested from calf’s intestine, apparently the animal have to be killed). Microbial rennet is now commonly used to replace animal rennet. I discussed more about rennet in this article.

Other than that, you have the mother nature to thanks. The region that allowed to produce parmesan cheese is having a special ecosystem of bacteria (list) which contributing to its main flavor when aging. So, it’s almost impossible to artificially replicate the taste. Likewise to other PDO cheeses. Kefalotyri doesn’t have a PDO, therefore it might taste different if produced elsewhere.

Parmesan has a thick edible rind, while kefalotyri doesn’t have one.

Parmesan is commonly grated over pasta, use the rind in soup, go with risotto, salad, pizza, sandwich, or any recipes you call.

Nutritional comparison

*1 slice or 1oz serving of Kefalotyri and Parmesan.

KefalotyriParmesan
Calories85.1 kcal110 kcal
Protein5.99 g8.99 g
Total Fat7 g8.01 g
Saturated Fat3 g5.01 g
Carbohydrate1 g0 g
Calcium300 mg319 mg
Iron0.361 mg0 mg
Potassium30 mg
Sodium240 mg180 mg
Vitamin A300 IU
Cholesterol16 mg24.9 mg
USDA source link: Kefalotyri and Parmesan

Based on the data above, the parmesan is having a slightly higher nutritional content overall. But it can vary from different milk batches or cured period.

One thing that can be certain is pan-fried kefalotyri is certainly less healthy.

Which is better?

It depends how you use it. The healthier one? The meltable one? Or the fryable? Or the affordable?

Other than that, leave the rest to your tongue! Get an assortment of cheese here via Amazon.

Both are sharp, but If you prefer a more balanced and mild flavor, go with young parmesan. If you would like to add a little less-overpowering but diverse flavor to a bland dish, such as a goaty tang, kefalotyri could be a better option.

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