Parmigiano-Reggiano vs. Kefalotyri


Cheese is a very versatile food. It can be eaten alone, in dishes, or used to top most anything. And there are so many varieties of cheese available to us these days that it’s easy to get confused about which type to purchase.

They all taste different, have different nutritional values and compliment different ingredients. So how do you know which one is best to suit your needs?

Here’s everything you need to know about Parmigiano-Reggiano and Kefalotyri cheeses to help you decide which one is better for you! 

Kefalotyri

Kefalotyri is a type of cheese that comes from Greece. It’s believed to be the ancestor or precursor to other Greek hard cheeses and it dates back to the Byzantine era.

Milky and delicious kefalotyri cheese.

When compared to Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Kefalotyri is a healthier choice. In one ounce, Kefalotyri contains 7.5 g total fat, 4.8 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, and 248 mg sodium. The sodium content in Kefalotyri cheese is nearly half that of Parmigiano-Reggiano. So, if you’re on a low-sodium diet or simply want to avoid eating a ton of salt, Kefalotyri is the better choice of the two.

This type of cheese is usually made from either sheep’s milk or goat’s milk, which can either be pasteurized or unpasteurized, as I explained here for Feta cheese. Unpasteurized cheeses usually contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that keep harmful bacteria like E. coli out of our stomachs. But, unpasteurized cheeses can also contain a harmful bacteria called Listeria.

So, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems should opt for a pasteurized version.

Kefalotyri is a hard cheese that is aged. The flavor of the cheese depends on how long it was aged. The shorter the aging time, the milder the flavor. If it’s been aged for a year or more, it will have a stronger flavor. However, regardless of how long it’s been aged, all Kefalotyri cheese will have a sharp and tangy flavor because it’s made from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk. 

This cheese makes an excellent choice for grated cheese because it’s dry and tends to crumble naturally. But, there are many ways to eat it. Traditionally, it’s made into Saganaki, which is fried strips of Kefaltyri. It’s also good to eat with fruit or with savory dishes that contain meat because of it’s tangy flavor, and it pairs well with red wine. 

Parmigiano-Reggiano

If you’re American, you’ve probably already read the name of this cheese and equated it to the dry crumbly Parmesan cheese that you put on your spaghetti. But, Parmesan cheese is actually made in an attempt to imitate the taste of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and it fails horribly in that endeavor.

The 3 pound cut of Parmigiano Reggiano. The rind with hot-stamped ID signature for each wheel.

How do you know if you’ve bought Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano? (here comparison with cheddar). Parmigiano-Reggiano won’t ever come in a bottle the way that Parmesan does, and it will typically cost more. (Don’t worry, it’s worth the extra expense and the trouble to track it down!)

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has a rich tradition and history. It’s a hard Italian cheese that’s been made for over 800 years, that we know of. It was written about in the 1300’s, was already popular by then and had a similar production method to the cheese we know and love today. All of this indicates that it had been being made before the 1300’s. 

There are a lot of rules regarding how this cheese is made. True Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is produced in the Parma/Reggio region of Italy and contains only 3 simple ingredients: milk, salt and rennet (an enzyme found in calves’ intestines).

If you’re familiar with food purity laws, you’re probably aware of the Bavarian Beer Purity laws, and the fact that many people consider them to be the first of their kind in the world.

But before that, there were rules about how Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese should be produced. Not only are there rules about where it can be made and what it can contain, but there are also lots of rules about the milk, and how the cows who produce it are raised.

Why does all of this matter to you? It means that every time you buy Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the flavor will be consistent, the texture will be what it’s supposed to be, and every wheel is inspected and deemed perfect before it can bear the Parmigiano-Reggiano name. This is one of the reasons it’s been called the “King of Cheeses”. 

This is a hard, aged cheese, so the same rules apply to it as any aged cheese. The longer it’s aged, the sharper the flavor will be. Along with the sharp flavor, there are some nutty notes. It’s dry and crumbly, so it’s good to grate over food, or to top dishes with. It’s also fantastic all on its own and there are a lot of fans of the cheese who were in love with it from the first bite. 

So, how does it stack up against Kefalotyri in terms of nutritional value? Parmigiano-Reggiano contains 8.1 g total fat, 4.8 g saturated fat, 24.6 mg cholesterol and a whopping 428 mg sodium per ounce. The only number that the two have in common is the saturated fat, but other than that Parmigiano-Reggiano has higher values in every other category. In fact, it has nearly two times as much sodium in it than Kefalotyri. 

Which cheese is the best choice?

It depends on your personal tastes, how you plan to eat it, and what you expect from the cheese’s nutritional content. If you like a cheese that’s milder in flavor, maybe try a young Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s made from cow’s milk and not aged long, both of which will prevent it from being as tangy in flavor as Kefalotyri.

If you have a heart condition, are trying to lose weight, or avoid salt, fat and cholesterol, Kefaltyri is a healthier option. But if you’re looking for something different to replace your usual Parmesan cheese, either is a suitable option in moderation, and will suit your need to take a walk on the wild side!

Continue reading…

AaronMH

I have a background in biotechnology, and I love cats.

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