Parmigiano Reggiano vs Mozzarella

These two types of cheeses are by far the most popular cheese in the US.

People love to use them in all kind of delicacies. Below, we will go through a brief introduction to both, as well as differences and similarities between them.

What is Parmigiano Reggiano?

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, also known as Parmesan cheese, is a hard cheese that’s been manufactured beginning in the 13th century.

It comes from Northern Italy in the provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia. 

This is the Parmigiano Reggiano. You can tell from the dotted stamp on its rind. Click the image will bring you to Amazon to learn more.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is trademarked and only cheese from certain locations can claim it, as well as its manufacture is watched over by the Consorzio, a government agency.

It is made under precise guidelines and rules from the food the cows eat that give the milk to make it to how it is cooked.

The cows can only eat hay and grass, and the raw milk they produce is checked via a rigorous process to make sure it is free from diseases. See bacteria used in making the parmigiano reggiano.

It’s manufactured using partially skim milk mixed with whey and then that is heated.

After that, calf rennet is traditionally added, but some modern types utilize a kind of microbial rennet so it curdles. That mixture is put inside a rounded mold and made into a wheel, which when finished gets stamped with its production date and brand name of the cheese.

This then gets put into some saltwater for a month and that is what makes this cheese a bit salty.

This is then aged a year or more, and it turns out to be mild and nutty in flavor. 

Are you having gastrointestinal issues? Check parmigiano reggiano FODMAP high or low here.

What is Mozzarella Cheese? 

Mozzarella is also an Italian cheese, which by tradition is made using water buffalo milk, however, these days sheep or cows are used since water buffalo milk is hard to get.

While commercial mozzarella cheese you buy in a store can last a long time; real fresh mozzarella cheese is meant to be eaten within less than 3 days, preferably within a few hours.

This is the delicious Buffalo’s milk mozzarella. Have a taste please.

It has been made for years, but starting with the 20th century is when it began to get very popular in the US.

It has a tangy yet sweet taste and it’s also milky. It’s manufactured by heating milk with rennet to make curds, which get separated from the whey, then cut so it will drain more, and then it sits until the pH of the cheese is 5.2 or higher. There is also an easier alternative way for homemade mozzarella without rennet.

The cheese curds are spun after being put into hot water and then soften and form into strings.

They have to sit longer if the curds break up instead of turning to strings, as that means they are not acidic enough.

After turned to strings, the cheese gets more hot water poured over the strings, then it is kneaded into a ball, formed into shapes, and put into cold water to hold that shape, then stored in oil or brine several hours.

Similar to Swiss cheese, see my comparison here.

There are also two kinds of Mozzarella cheese: fresh and shredded.

Fresh is thought by some to taste better but it all depends on personal taste buds. Some once told me that feta cheese smell like feet. However, shredded is cheaper than fresh, so it tends to be the most popular. 

Additionally, fresh has only milk, salt, citric acid and rennet, while the shredded types have additives so it won’t clump up, such as potato starch or cellulose.

It may also contain natamycin, a preservative with anti-fungal characteristics, however, some consider this item to be unacceptable for food products though nothing harmful has been seen by various studies that have been done.

Is Parmigiano-Reggiano the same as Parmesan Cheese in Stores?

Most people think real Parmesan is the powdery white stuff they buy in green containers in the store to sprinkle on their pasta.

But that is really a very substandard type of cheese, and that’s much different than real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

It is imitation Parmigiano Reggiano at best and it’s made in a far different manner. I strongly recommend this one on Amazon if you looking for the authentic one.

Differences Between Mozzarella And Parmigiano-Reggiano 

One of the main differences between these two cheeses is that while Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is aged for a year or more, Mozzarella cheese is only aged for a quite short period of time, or eaten fresh.

That is why Mozzarella cheese is quite soft, while Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is quite hard. Plus, Mozzarella has a mild milky flavor while Parmigiano Reggiano is tangy and salty.

See my comparison of two other soft cheese here.

Which Cheese Should I Use?

The variety of cheese you choose to use depends on what you plan to do with it.

For instance, since Mozzarella cheese is soft and melts easily, it works great for things like a topping for pizza while the Parmigiano-Reggiano is hard and can be grated easily so it’s good to do things like sprinkle it over pasta dishes.

Parmigiano Reggiano is used to liven up foods.

It can act as a flavor booster for food from salads to roasted veggies.

Since it is so concentrated and flavorful, you only need a small amount, plus it tricks the palate into believing the dish has more salt than it really does, so it’s better for the health than using that additional salt.

You only need a tablespoon of it for garnishing dishes or up to a third of a cup mixed with things like soups, breading, pesto or meatball mixes to spice up the flavor in a tremendous way.

Read this: Mozzarella vs Gouda.

While Mozzarella is mild so you likely have to use more of it in your dishes and it’s a food that melts easily and can be mixed easily into other foods to give them a mild cheesy flavor.

It is enjoyed mixed into salads, or eaten as an appetizer or antipasto. It is also used in sandwiches, as well as eaten with sliced tomatoes and basil. 

So if you want to use cheese as an additive to spice up a meal, it’s likely you need to use Parmigiano Reggiano but if it is to be a part of the meal itself, then perhaps you need to use Mozzarella cheese.

Sum up

All in all, both of these cheeses are delicious and have been used in Italy and elsewhere for centuries. Both are treasures for cheese lovers, and both have their place in the world of Italian cooking.

So, I have a question for you: Is Mozzarella Gluten-free? answer.