Vices and virtues of cheese at home and in the restaurant. To best preserve the cheese, and eat better products
Yes cheese or not cheese? Behind the "cheese-making dilemma" hides a theme of conservation, of enhancing cheese on the table; but in many restaurants there is also a correspondence between what restaurant owners declare on the menu and what is actually used in the kitchen as an ingredient or brought to the table to enrich the dishes with taste.
The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium has created a veritable "vademecum of the cheese factory" that can be useful to restaurateurs and families who do not know what the best way to taste and preserve the grated product, and the answer is only one …
The three enemies of grated cheese: air, light, heat
There are three factors that deteriorate the sensory parameters of grated Parmigiano Reggiano: air, light and excessive temperature. For this reason it is essential that the care of Parmigiano Reggiano contained in the cheese is maximum. A grated cheese, even of good quality, which stops too long inside the cheese-making plant will tend to lose its aroma, dry out, oxidize, become rancid and therefore provide a taste experience that is not optimal, if not negative.
The cheese does not enhance the cheese, a word of Slow Food
Eugenio Signoroni, editor of the guide Italian taverns published by Slow Food, has a well-defined position on the subject: «The cheese is certainly a convenient way to bring grated cheese to the table, but it is the worst way if you want to enhance it and if you want to do a customer service. An attentive restaurant that is genuinely interested in offering its customers the best, should bring its guest one piece of cheese at the table with a grater and then he should take care of scratching the cheese directly on the plate or he should find a way to let him do it. Only then can you be sure of what is being served, you are sure of the freshness of the product and you are able to limit waste. This just battle reminds me very much of the one against the presence of refillable oil bottles on the table that, although forbidden by the law, are too often present in Italian restaurants .
One grated at the moment
The grated Parmesan cheese will enrich every dish with taste and flavor, but it is certain that fresh grating currently allows us to fully grasp the whole aromatic range, especially as regards the most volatile scents. The grated "at the moment" also allows and above all to minimize, if not reset, waste since it does not scratch more than is strictly necessary. In economic and temporal terms the adoption of direct grating could therefore prove to be a winning choice, which denotes a quality of service of very high level and which gives the right dignity to Parmesan cheese. Come to think of it, would we accept that a vintage wine already opened and poured into glasses was brought to the table, or that a truffle was served to us already sliced?
Whole is preserved better
Thanks to its structure and low water content, Parmesan cheese is one of the best long-life cheeses. Its ability to last over time is a peculiar characteristic that has contributed to its fame over the centuries. Parmesan cheese (grated or chopped) must be kept in the fridge at one temperature ranging from 4 to 8 degrees. Parmesan cheese maintains its organoleptic characteristics intact if kept at an optimal humidity level (in a ventilated refrigerator the cheese tends to dry) and away from other foods (the fat part of the cheese tends to absorb the other smells in the refrigerator). The use of glass or plastic containers is therefore recommended. Another practical solution is to wrap the Parmesan cheese in food-grade films. In this way the Parmesan can be preserved for a long time, remembering to periodically check that the maintenance conditions are not altered. Never freeze the cheese.