Why it has to be Grana Padano
Grana Padano has been part of Italy's proud gastronomic heritage for nearly 1,000 years having been developed by Benedictine monks in Northern Italy as an ingenious way of preserving surplus milk. This savoury hard cheese is still made using traditional methods handed down over generations.
Produced in the Pianura Padana (Po River Valley) it is made exclusively from partially skimmed, raw Italian milk sourced from within the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and some areas of Trento and the province of Piacenza in Emilia Romagna. Complex and fragrant, with a subtle, salty tang, its name reflects the distinctive grainy texture that develops as it matures.
Each wheel of cheese must age a minimum of 9 months and after examination by testers from an independent body and the Consorzio (the Grana Padano Protection Consortium, a non-profit organisation which brings together producers and curers to protect and promote Grana Padano cheese in the world) it receives a fire-branded mark to qualify and certify that it is perfect. If the wheel does not pass the test, the rind will be "etched" to ensure it cannot be sold as Grana Padano. At 20 months of age, the wheels may undergo a further set of quality tests to receive the status "Riserva".
Rich in calcium, quality proteins, vitamins and mineral salts, it is lactose free due to the characteristics of the production method and the long ageing process.
Today there are 130 cheese producers, curers and packagers creating over 5 million wheels of Grana Padano making it the world's best-selling PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese. Always look for the the distinctive red and yellow PDO mark, to be sure you're buying the real Grana Padano.
Introduce Grana Padano into your mid-week meal planning with 5 recipes devised by Alex Mackay - cook, teacher and cookery writer - featuring our hero ingredient. Just click on the recipe title below to cook your next brunch, lunch or dinner.