The Wheels Are Turning: What is Hard Cheese?

Hard cheese is an everyday staple and deserves a favorite place on your cheese plate. Cheeses become hard after they are ripened over a period; generally years. They are made with the highest quality of milk, rennet and starter cultures.

The maturation of cheese breaks down the protein content naturally so that it assumes a crystalline texture and become crunchy. They have a pleasurable taste when fully-flavored that makes you love to eat them as often as possible.

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Waiting Precedes Getting the Cheese

If you are a cheese maker and only have the patience to wait a few months, then you will never have a hard cheese. Time is where the delicacy gets its rare form having been primed over a few years with the right condiments and under the right conditions.

The ideal definition of what makes cheese hard or soft is the passage of time, and the longer you wait, the harder the cheese becomes.

How to Make a Good Hard Cheese

In simple terms, if you leave cheese for an extended period, it becomes firm. The aging process is such that makes it possible for the evaporation of moisture and for the salt content to crystallize. This essentially makes it possible for the cheese to be crunchy when you take a bite.

To get the cheese to become chunky, it goes beyond just buying any cheese to dump on the shelf. It requires the right conditions for it to turn out well. These conditions mean the right humidity, constant temperature, and regular rotation.

The veritable hard cheese will be about a year old while some can be as much as seven years old and with the right atmosphere they can age longer.The quality of milk and ingredients matters a lot just like the method of aging the cheese.

All these have an enormous impact on the taste. Variables like the air and grass found in the place where the cheese was made also affect the taste of the milk. This, in turn, weighs in on the cheese taste and the rating any hard cheese gets.

Storing Hard Cheese

It may sound contradictory, but if you have a wine cellar, then you have usable storage for cheese. Ideally, any cellar will suffice since the cheese records fewer temperature fluctuations. It’s also true that humidity hardly reaches the basement, creating a favorable environment for the cheese.

When placed in the dark, it is in a perfect atmosphere for it to age tastefully. For best preservation, it is advised that you get the cheese wrapped up in waxed paper and with weekly change, it can last longer. The appearance of mold does not dampen the cheese as you only need to scrap it off as soon as you notice it. Change the wrap after this and the cheese will remain in good condition. 

Adored Hard Cheese Types

• Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano is a kind of cheese that is the outcome of uncooked cow’s milk.The origination comes from northern Italy and is consideredthehighest quality of hard cheese. There is a grader inspection by an expert when the cheese gets to the 12th month in storage.

This task is done so that if the quality is rated as excellent, it can be stamped with the logo of Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano through a heat process. This brand of hard cheese is typically stored for up to 24 months even when it is ready to be eaten after 12 months.

Sometimes, the cheese gets stored for longer periods and the longer it stays, the greater the intensity of the flavor. This is because the cheese gets drier with more crystalline to touch, allowing the aroma to become more intense. Parmigiano Reggiano is same as the English equivalent of Parmesan.

Depending on where you are in the world, you might not have access to the genuine Italian brand. Cheeses that pass as parmesan in other regions of the world are usually variants of cheese that were created using the Parmigiano method.

• The Grana Padano

After the Parmigiano Reggiano, the Grana Padano is the next most reviewed hard cheese. It was invented in the 12th century by the Cistercian monks. They discovered it as a means to ensure that excess milk doesn't go to waste. It is native to the Italian region as well.

The way of producing the Grana Padano is in a fashion akin to the Parmigiano Reggiano from uncooked cow’s milk. This cheese is evidently milder than the famous cousin and lacks the tangy feel associated with the best brand.

• The Piave 

The Piave gets its name from a river valley in northern Italy called the Piave river valley. It is made from slightly skimmed pasteurized milk. It is commonly eaten fresh from storage or after an extended period. When young, it is sweet to taste and over time loses the sweet edge from storage.

It has a characteristic nuttiness which is slight but detectable when tasted. It is also called outside of Italy as Vecchio or sutra Vecchio. The meaning is extra old or simply, old.

• The Aged Cheddar

In England, hard cheese can be found as the Aged Cheddar, and I consider this my favorite.The aged cheddar matures characteristics of the Parmigiano. Judging the taste of aged cheddar, I believe it has more crystalline, leaving the taste much more vibrant in comparison to other cheeses.

Regarding age, I have seen some Cheddar that was certified to be more than ten years old while from standard reports, some have reported some that were 30 years old.

Conclusion

Hard cheese is a delicacy that comes from cheese that has been stored for up to a year old and beyond. Storage preserves the cheese under waxed wraps and with weekly changes to preserve the excellent condition. 

Kristin Ryals
 

My name is Kristin, and I'm a housewife with big love for cooking. When I'm not bringing on the Food Network and attempting to become America's Next Top Chef, I'm browsing online for unique recipes to awe my friends with. Outside of the world of cooking (as if there is one!), I enjoy reading, skydiving, live music, and of course, shopping!

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