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Celebrating Hard Cheese at Barossa Cheese!

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At least one of these should be in your fridge at all times. These are amazing and add a complexity to your cooking that will take a dish from simple, to simply magnificent. I always have a piece tucked away because this style is really very robust and keep well due to their very low moisture content. Friends in the hard cheese category include Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, Pecorino, Pepato, Romano, Comte, Beaufort, Manchego and Emmental.

With these cheese, the curd is cooked at higher temperatures of up to 55oC, expelling more whey, which in turn effects the final moisture content of the product and its ability to be kept in the maturation room for longer. These cheese are generally made in large wheels including some weighing up to 100kgs each. As with all other cheese, the age is important. The longer they are stored and allowed to ripen in the optimum cheese cellars, the more concentrated the flavour profile. Hard cheese is generally aged for a minimum of 6 months but can be up to 36 months. I especially love a matured Comte, the deep, rich, caramel nuttiness is a delight to my senses. It’s always a hit on a cheese platter!

Many of the Eye-cheese also fall in to this category such as the Emmental, Gruyere and Tilsit. These tend to be characterised by their smooth, pliable texture and the distinctive “eyes” or “holes” formed within the interior of the cheese. The eyes of the cheese are created through the formation of gas, produced by a propionic acid bacteria called Propionibacterium freudenreichii shermanii. The specialist bacteria generate carbon dioxide in the 2nd to 4th week of maturing. If the bacteria are managed properly, the eyes of the cheese will be evenly distributed through the interior of the cheese and they will be “shiny”. Eye cheese often has distinctive mild, sweet and nutty flavours.

Often used for grated but don’t rule them out for the cheese board. In my opinion, they add and interesting texture and the reality is that they tend to suit the more robust Australian red wines that we so often drink

Cracking open a real wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano

Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of cracking into a wheel of this magnificent cheese but it’s on my bucket list, that’s for sure. Until then, I will just continue to watch the great Carlo Guffanti. If you have a few minutes, check this out!

Storage

Look for cheese that is hard and granular, but not excessively dried out or cracked. Grated cheese can be frozen and stored for up to 12 months.

Thanks for learning with us again this month! Until next time,
Victoria :)

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