Best Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese: Top Picks for Authentic Flavor and Quality

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So, it is only fitting that someone called “the Traveling Cheesehead should occasionally do an article on cheese. You would be surprised at how many times I am pitched to cover a cheese event, even if that isn’t what I really talk about. What I DO love? Is the fact that Wisconsin has over 600 kinds of cheese and it is a fantastic way to support our local farmers.

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It is no surprise that Wisconsin is known for its cheese, and one of the most popular types produced in the state is Parmesan. Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is a high-quality product that is made using traditional methods and has a unique flavor that sets it apart from other types of Parmesan.

We will explore the history of the best Wisconsin Parmesan cheese, the process of making it, its distinct characteristics, popular producers, pairing and serving suggestions, health benefits, buying guide, and answer some frequently asked questions.

Wisconsin has a long history of producing high-quality cheese, and parmesan is no exception. The state’s cheesemakers have been perfecting the art of making parmesan for generations, using traditional methods that have been passed down through the years. The result is a cheese that is rich in flavor, with a unique texture and aroma that is unmatched by other types of parmesan.

If you’re a fan of parmesan cheese, then you owe it to yourself to try Wisconsin parmesan. In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at what makes this it so special, and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision when buying it.

Key Takeaways

  • Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is a high-quality product made using traditional methods that have been perfected over generations.
  • It has a unique flavor, texture, and aroma that sets it apart from other types of parmesan cheese.
  • In this article, we’ll explore the history of Wisconsin parmesan cheese, the process of making it, its distinct characteristics, popular producers, pairing and serving suggestions, health benefits, buying guide, and answer some frequently asked questions.
Best Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

History of Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, originated in Italy’s Po River Valley in the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, Parmesan gained popularity for its enormous wheel size, long shelf life, and incredible depth of flavor. Parmesan was first made in Wisconsin in the late 19th century by Italian immigrants who brought their cheese-making skills with them.

Cheese-making quickly became an essential industry in Wisconsin, and by the end of the Civil War, there were already 30 factories in the state. By 1870, the number had grown to 54. Cheese manufacturing was concentrated in three counties by the 1880s: Sheboygan, Green, and Jefferson. Today, Wisconsin is the largest producer of Parmesan in the United States.

Parmesan cheese-making in Wisconsin follows the same traditional process as in Italy. The cheese is made from cow’s milk and aged for at least 12 months, although some Parmesan cheese is aged for up to 36 months. During the aging process, it is regularly turned and brushed to remove any mold. The cheese develops a hard, granular texture and a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.

Wisconsin Parmesan cheese has won several awards, including the 2019 World Cheese Championship. One of the most well-known Wisconsin Parmesan producers is Sartori Cheese, which has been crafting cheese since 1939. Sartori’s SarVecchio® Parmesan is a particularly popular variety of Wisconsin Parmesan and has been featured in Businessweek magazine as one of the best Parmesan cheeses in the world.

Overall, Wisconsin Parmesan cheese has a rich history and is a beloved cheese variety in the state. Its traditional production methods and high-quality taste have made it a favorite among cheese lovers worldwide.

Process of Making Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

Milk Selection

The first step in making Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is selecting the milk. The milk must be of high quality and come from cows that have been well-fed and cared for. Wisconsin cheese makers take pride in sourcing milk from local family farms, ensuring that the milk is fresh and free from any harmful additives.

Curd Formation

Once the milk has been selected, it is heated and mixed with rennet to form curds. The curds are then cut into small pieces and cooked at a specific temperature to remove the whey. The curds are then pressed into large molds or wheels and immersed in a salt brine for about three weeks to give the Parmesan its signature salty flavor.

Aging Process

After the brining process, the wheels are stored in an aging room for 12 to 36 months or more, where they are cleaned and turned every 7 to 10 days. During the aging process, the cheese develops its unique flavor and texture. The longer the cheese is aged, the more complex and nutty the flavor becomes.

Wisconsin Parmesan is made using traditional techniques that have been passed down for generations. The cheese makers take pride in their craft and are committed to producing a high-quality product that is both delicious and nutritious.

Best Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese aged Parmesan

Distinct Characteristics of Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is known for its unique characteristics that set it apart from other Parmesan cheeses around the world. Here are some of the most distinct features of Wisconsin Parmesan cheese:

  • Texture: Wisconsin Parmesan cheese has a sturdy, dense, and granular texture that is perfect for grating or shaving. It is not crumbly like some other Parmesan brands, which makes it easier to work with in the kitchen.
  • Flavor: The flavor profile of Wisconsin Parmesan is buttery, sweet, and nutty, with a slight tanginess. As the cheese ages, the flavor becomes more intense and complex. This makes it a versatile cheese that can be used in a variety of dishes, from pasta to salads to soups.
  • Aging: Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is aged for at least 10 months, which gives it a rich and complex flavor. Some varieties are aged for up to 24 months, which intensifies the flavor even further.
  • Production: Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is made using traditional methods that have been passed down for generations. It is made from the milk of cows that are raised on small family farms in Wisconsin. The cheese is carefully crafted by skilled cheesemakers who take pride in their work.
  • Quality: Wisconsin Parmesan is made with the highest quality ingredients and is subject to strict quality control standards. This ensures that every block of cheese meets the highest standards of excellence.

Overall, Wisconsin Parmesan is a high-quality cheese that is known for its unique texture, flavor, and aging process. It is a staple in many kitchens around the world and is loved by cheese lovers everywhere.

Popular Wisconsin Parmesan Producers

Wisconsin is home to some of the best Parmesan producers in the world. Here are some of the most popular Wisconsin Parmesan cheese producers:

  • BelGioioso Cheese, Inc: BelGioioso has been making award-winning Italian-style cheeses since 1979. Their Parmesan cheese is made using traditional methods and aged for 10 months to develop its rich, nutty flavor.
  • Sartori Company: Sartori has been making artisanal cheeses in Wisconsin since 1939. Their Parmesan cheese is made using milk from local farmers and aged for at least 20 months to develop its complex flavor profile.
  • Grande Cheese Company: Grande has been making high-quality Italian-style cheeses since 1941. Their Parmesan cheese is made using only the finest ingredients and aged for at least 10 months to develop its distinct flavor.
  • Schuman Cheese: Schuman Cheese has been making artisanal cheeses for over 70 years. Their Parmesan cheese is made using milk from local farmers and aged for at least 10 months to develop its rich, nutty flavor.
  • MCT Dairies, Inc.: MCT Dairies has been making premium cheeses for over 30 years. Their Parmesan cheese is made using only the freshest milk and aged for at least 10 months to develop its bold, nutty flavor.

These are just a few of the many Parmesan producers in Wisconsin. Each producer has its own unique methods and flavor profiles, so be sure to try them all and find your favorite.

Pairing and Serving Suggestions for Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

Wisconsin Parmesan is versatile and flavorful and pairs well with a variety of foods and beverages. Here are some ideas for pairing and serving suggestions:

Best Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese aged Parmesan and wine

Pairing Suggestions

  • Wine: Parmesan pairs well with a variety of wines, including Chianti, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The salty and nutty flavors complement the tannins in the wine.
  • Fruit: Pair Parmesan cheese with fresh or dried fruit, such as figs, pears, or apricots. The sweetness of the fruit balances the saltiness of the cheese.
  • Meat: Serve Parmesan cheese with cured meats, such as prosciutto or salami. The combination of salty and savory flavors is delicious.
  • Crackers: Serve Parmesan with crackers or bread. It can be grated or sliced and served on top of the crackers or bread.

Serving Suggestions

Salads:

Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top of salads for added flavor and texture.

Pasta:

Add grated Parmesan to pasta dishes, such as spaghetti or fettuccine Alfredo. The cheese adds a nutty flavor and richness to the dish.

Soups:

Add grated Parmesan to soups, such as minestrone or tomato soup. The cheese adds a salty and savory flavor to the soup.

Vegetables:

Add grated Parmesan on top of roasted vegetables, such as broccoli or cauliflower. The cheese adds a crispy texture and nutty flavor to the vegetables.

Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is a delicious and versatile cheese that can be paired with a variety of foods and beverages. Try some of these pairing and serving suggestions to enjoy the full flavor.

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Health Benefits of Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

Wisconsin Parmesan is not only delicious but also offers some nutritional benefits. Here are some of the health benefits of Wisconsin Parmesan:

High in Protein

Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. A 1-ounce serving of Wisconsin Parmesan contains about 10 grams of protein.

Rich in Calcium

Wisconsin Parmesan is a good source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. A 1-ounce serving of Wisconsin Parmesan cheese contains about 330 milligrams of calcium.

Low in Lactose

Wisconsin Parmesan is low in lactose, which makes it a good option for people who are lactose intolerant. The aging process of the cheese removes most of the lactose.

Contains Vitamin A

Wisconsin Parmesan cheese contains vitamin A, which is essential for good vision, healthy skin, and a strong immune system. A 1-ounce serving of Wisconsin Parmesan contains about 10% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A.

Low in Fat

Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is low in fat, making it a good option for people who are watching their fat intake. A 1-ounce serving of Wisconsin Parmesan contains about 7 grams of fat, most of which is saturated fat.

Overall, Wisconsin Parmesan is a tasty and nutritious addition to any diet.

Best Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

Buying Guide for Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

When it comes to buying Wisconsin Parmesan cheese, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you get the best quality.

Look for the Wisconsin Cheese Label

One of the best ways to ensure you’re buying authentic Wisconsin Parmesan cheese is to look for the Wisconsin Cheese label. This label guarantees that it was made in Wisconsin and meets the state’s strict quality standards.

Check the Age

Parmesan cheese is aged for a minimum of 12 months, but some varieties can be aged for up to 36 months. The longer the cheese is aged, the more intense its flavor becomes. If you prefer a milder flavor, look for a younger cheese, while a more intense flavor can be found in older ones.

Consider the Brand

Wisconsin is home to many top-quality Parmesan brands, including BelGioioso Cheese, Inc., Grande Cheese Company, and Sartori Company. Each brand has its unique flavor profile, so it’s worth trying a few to find your favorite.

Grated or Whole Cheese?

While grated cheese is convenient, it’s not always the best choice. Pre-grated can dry out and lose flavor more quickly than whole cheese. If possible, buy whole and grate it yourself just before using it. This will ensure maximum flavor and freshness.

Pairing Suggestions

Parmesan cheese pairs well with many foods, including pasta, pizza, and soups. It also goes well with wine, especially red wines like Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re looking for a unique pairing, try pairing Parmesan cheese with dark chocolate or honey.

In summary, when buying Wisconsin Parmesan, look for the Wisconsin Cheese label, consider the age and brand, and opt for whole cheese over pre-grated. With these tips, you’ll be able to find the best Wisconsin Parmesan cheese for your needs.

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Final Thoughts about the Best Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

Wisconsin is home to some of the best Parmesan cheese in the world. The state’s dairy farmers and cheesemakers take great pride in producing high-quality cheese that is recognized globally.

From the award-winning Parmigiano-Reggiano made by Sartori Cheese to the delicious Parmesan made by many other Wisconsin cheesemakers, the state’s Parmesan cheese is a must-try for cheese lovers.

When it comes to choosing the best Wisconsin Parmesan, it’s important to consider factors such as the cheese’s flavor, texture, and aroma. Some of the best Wisconsin Parmesan comes from the northern part of the state, where the soil, climate, and rainfall are ideal for raising dairy cows.

If you’re looking for a bold and nutty flavor, try the Parmigiano-Reggiano made by Sartori Cheese. This cheese is aged for at least 20 months and has a rich, complex flavor that pairs well with a variety of foods.

For a milder flavor, consider trying the Parmesan made by other Wisconsin cheesemakers. These cheeses are often aged for less time than Parmigiano-Reggiano but still have a delicious, nutty flavor that is perfect for grating over pasta or adding to a salad.

Overall, Wisconsin Parmesan is a great choice for anyone looking for high-quality, flavorful cheese. Whether you’re a cheese lover or simply looking to try something new, be sure to give Wisconsin Parmesan a try.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese

What are some of the best Wisconsin cheese brands?

Wisconsin is known for producing some of the best cheese in the world, and there are many great brands to choose from. Some of the best Wisconsin brands include BelGioioso, Sartori, and Roth.

What are some famous Wisconsin cheese companies?

Wisconsin is home to many famous cheese companies, including BelGioioso Cheese, Sartori Company, and Roth Cheese. These companies are known for producing high-quality cheese that is beloved by cheese lovers around the world.

What are the different types of Parmesan cheese?

There are several different types of Parmesan cheese, including Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, and SarVecchio. Each type of Parmesan has its own unique flavor and texture, and all are delicious in their own way.

Where can I buy SarVecchio Parmesan?

You can buy SarVecchio Parmesan at many grocery stores and specialty cheese shops throughout the United States.

What are the best Wisconsin cheese curds?

Wisconsin cheese curds are a beloved snack that is enjoyed by cheese lovers all over the world. Some of the best Wisconsin curds include those made by Carr Valley Cheese, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, and Henning’s Cheese.

Is BelGioioso Parmesan authentic?

BelGioioso Cheese is a well-respected company that is known for producing high-quality cheese. The company’s Parmesan cheese is made using traditional methods and is aged for at least 10 months, making it an authentic and delicious choice for cheese lovers.

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