Cheese has been around for a very long time. The process of making cheese goes back to over 4,000 years. It's no wonder this dairy product is so popular. It is versatile and can be put on almost anything for more flavor. In addition, there are well over 1,000 types of cheeses worldwide! With this fact in mind, knowing the differences between each type will only benefit you while in the grocery store. Two of the more popular types of cheese that people buy are pecorino and parmesan. Parmesan is a cheese many load spaghetti with, while pecorino is also great on pizzas, pasta, or even salads. With their similar versatility, maybe you are asking yourself, what is the difference between pecorino and parmesan? Why would you choose one over the other?
What is Pecorino?
Pecorino is an Italian cheese whose name is from the Italian word pecora. Pecora means sheep in Italy. This particular cheese comes from the milk of sheep. There are six different types of varieties of pecorino cheese. They are:
The Pecorino Romana: This type is the most popular outside of Italy.
Pecorino Sardo: This pecorino cheese is from Sardinia.
Pecorino Toscano: This type of cheese is from Tuscany.
The Pecorino Sicillano: Pecorino cheese from Sicily.
Pecorino Di Fillano: This type is from Basillcata .
Pecorino Crotonese: Pecorino cheese from province of crotone in calabria.
The Pecorino Di Atri: This type of pecorino is from Abruzzo.
Pecorino Three Categories
From there, Pecorino cheese has three stages based on aging.
First, there is fresco cheese. This type of pecorino cheese is relatively young, usually at most 20 days. Additionally, it is creamy and mild.
The second category is semi-stagionato. Their specific age is around six months. Semi-stagionato pecorino cheeses are still mild and softer than the oldest aged varieties.
The oldest aged variety is stagionato. These are mature pecorino cheeses and are the most flavorful. They age up to 12 months. Stagionato cheeses have a harder and crumbly texture. Furthermore, the taste is more robust, with hints of butter and nutty flavors.
Pecorino covers all types of cheese that comes from ewe's milk. When producing the cheese, the first step is making the cheese curds while adding rennet. The cheese curds undergo draining and shaping into their one-drum wheels. Afterward, the steps include pressing, salting, and wrapping. Pecorino is a relatively young aging cheese, with its aging process taking a month and up to a year.
The pecorino cheese is hard slightly yellow. Additionally, it has an earthy flavor that is salty and nutty.
What is Parmesan?
Authentic parmesan cheese's official name is Parmigiano-Reggiano. It comes from the specific Provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia. Additionally, it is produced in Bologna and Mantua. Parmesan cheese is also a hard Italian cheese. However, parmesan cheese comes specifically from cow's milk. This type of cheese is versatile; it comes from unpasteurized cow's milk.
To make parmesan cheese, whole and naturally skim milk combine. Then, they go into a copper vat to heat. During this time, whey and rennet aid curding. The aging process of parmesan cheese is at least 12 months, although you can find cheese that ages for much longer!
Parmigiano-Reggiano has been called the king of cheeses; in fact, it has the label as the second Best Cheese in the World by TasteAtlas!
Pecorino vs. Parmesan: 3 Differences Including Age, Taste, and Texture
Pecorino and parmesan can appear very similar. However, a few main differences set them apart from one another. Their differences are in the type of milk, flavor, aging, and appearance. Let's take a look at the differences below.
What are the Taste Differences Between Pecorino and Parmesan?
Regarding taste, pecorino wins as having the more intense flavor. It has more salt and nutty undertones. Parmesan is very versatile, and one reason is because of its mild flavor. It pairs well with many different types of dishes. It has a sweeter flavor than pecorino, while its flavor is intense.
Pecorino has a yellow tint, while parmesan is whiter. Additionally, their textures vary from one another. Since parmesan is aged longer than pecorino, it has a crumblier and harder texture. Pecorino tends to be softer and creamier than parmesan.
One of the main differences between pecorino and parmesan cheese is the aging process. Pecorino is only aged for up to 12 months. However, young pecorino cheeses are only a month or two old. Since it has a shorter aging process, pecorino has a creamy and softer texture.
Parmesan cheese is aged for at least 12 months. However, it is possible to find parmesan cheese aged up to 40 months old. The longer the parmesan cheese ages, the stronger the flavor and aroma will be. Parmesan cheese that has not been aged for very long will have a fresher flavor and hints of a fruity undertone. Yet, older parmesan cheese is grainier and crumbles more easily.
One Last Note
Pecorino and parmesan cheeses are delicious and great ways to enjoy maximum flavors. Although they are similar, they are not the same. Pecorino is younger than most parmesan cheeses. Additionally, it tends to be softer and creamier in texture, depending on the age. Parmesan cheese has a milder flavor. However, it is made from cow's milk. Therefore, pecorino may be the better option if you have lactose sensitivities. These cheeses are versatile and eaten on many dishes, including pasta, pizza, and soup. Whether you choose pecorino or parmesan cheese is all about personal preference. However, you cannot go wrong with either one!
The image featured at the top of this post is ©barmalini/Shutterstock.com.