Hard cheese is a type of cheese which has been made by ageing for a long time, which is even years. The flavor varies from mild to strong which depends on the years of ageing and the type of culture used. As the cheese ages, the flavor of the cheese intensifies and becomes strong. This type of cheese has a robust structure and a concentrated flavor. Parmesan, Pecorino, Romano and Pepato, Cheddar, etc are types of hard cheese.
Varieties of Hard Cheese
Parmesan cheese is named after the Italian city of Parma. It is one of the most commonly used cheeses all over the world. Low fat cow’s milk is used to make parmesan. Milk is heated and left to curdle in copper vessels. Cutting of curd is done and it is then heated to about 121 degrees F. All the whey is drained off and the curd is further cooked to 131 degrees F and pressed in moulds. After two days, the cheese blocks are brined for a month and then left to mature for at least 2 years. Parmesan can be stored in the refrigerator for a very long time. The age of the cheese has an impact on the flavor imparted.
Serving – It is served along with fruits like apples, pear, figs and almonds. It can also be grated on pasta, salad, pizza or risotto. It can also be used along with bread crumb to crumb on crust meats, vegetables or croquettes.
Pecorino is an Italian cheese traditionally made of sheep’s milk. It has a creamy flavor and a hard crumbly texture. It is shaped like wheels. The rind is hard, smooth and often coated with oil to protect the inner layers. The time needed for maturing is atleast eight months. Only then the cheese will become robust and hard. It has a very sharp flavor along with a sweet and salty taste. This hard cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for a long duration as it is very low in moisture.
Serving – Pecorino cheese is served as a table cheese. It can be grated over salads, pasta and pizza.
Pepato is an Italian cheese made with cow’s milk. It is native to Sicily region. It is considered very distinct as it contains peppercorns. The spicy flavor of the peppercorns compliments the sharp flavor of the cheese. When selecting a pepato, there should be no cracks on the surface of the cheese. It can be wrapped in aluminium foil and stored in the refrigerator for about 5 months.
Serving – Pepato is served as a table cheese. It can be used in salads and sandwiches. It can also be used in cream sauces.
Romano is one of the oldest cheeses made in Italy. Traditionally ewe or goat’s milk was used to make this cheese but cow’s milk is used as well. It is made using a special technique called rummaging curd. The curd is drained out very quickly post moulding. The cheese is pierced and then salt is applied. The cheese is aged for atleast 8 – 10 months. Lipase enzyme is added to enhance the flavor.
Serving – Slices of romano cheese are served with wine. It can also be used as a dressing over pasta, pizza or salads.
Popular Recipes Using Hard Cheese
- Eggplant parmesan is a classical Italian dish made using parmesan cheese.
- Parmesan romano cheese grits with basil is a dish made using a combination of romano and parmesan cheese.
- Romano potato is a baked potato casserole flavored with romano cheese.
- Broccoli with pecorino cheese is made using pecorino cheese.