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About Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)

PDO is short for Protected Designation of Origin, a European community system designed to provide legally binding name protection for an elite group of high-quality foods. All PDO certified cheeses, cured meats, wines and other products are made according to traditional methods, following strict production rules, in specific geographic regions in Europe. The PDO system aids consumers, retailers, chefs, and others in distinguishing between authentic European products and their many imitators.  

Grana Padano cheese has a history dating back nearly 1,000 years. Its traditions and heritage are intrinsically tied to the area of production. It has been an EU-certified Protected Designation of Origin product
since 1996. 

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How to identify a PDO product:

All Icons of European Taste products have earned the PDO stamp. Because of the greatness of these foods and their popularity – both at home and abroad – imitations have naturally sprung up around the world. Such products bear none of the history, tradition, or quality of the originals. While this may seem inevitable, and consumers are free to buy what they want, it’s important that they know what they are buying and how it is made.

The producers of Prosciutto di San Daniele PDO, Grana Padano cheese PDO and Prosciutto di Parma PDO are the focus of an exciting joint promotional campaign that seeks not only to raise awareness about these unique foods among American and Canadian retailers and consumers, but also to emphasize the importance of quality, authenticity, and tradition. Although these products all happen to be from Italy, they are indicative of the many traditional foods from Europe that are unique to their respective areas, as well as the production methods which have been handed down from generation to generation by proud artisans who are in tune with the land and the seasons.

The Grana Padano Protection Consorzio

Grana Padano cheese has a history dating back nearly 1,000 years. Its traditions and heritage are intrinsically tied to the area of production. It has been an EU-certified Protected Designation of Origin product since 1996. 

The Grana Padano Protection Consorzio was officially established in 1954. It is a non-profit organization which is charged with protecting, promoting, providing consumer information, and taking care of the PDO status. For over sixty years, it has united producers, maturing companies, seasoners, authorized production and packaging facilities and cheese distributors, guaranteeing compliance with the traditional recipe and its characteristic high quality in every single wheel of cheese produced.​

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Where is Grana Padano cheese produced?

Grana Padano cheese is produced only in the Po River Valley (Pianura Padana) in Northern Italy, which includes the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, the province of Piacenza in Emilia Romagna, and the province of  Trento in Trentino Alto Adige. It is from these regions that Grana Padano’s history and heritage were established. 

Unique, unmistakable, incomparable: Grana Padano cheese is the most consumed PDO cheese in the world. Its remarkable heritage and qualities entitle it to use the name Grana Padano. It is for this reason its name must always be said in its entirety: "Grana" for its grainy texture, "Padano" from the production area in the Po River Valley.

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How is Grana Padano cheese produced?

Grana Padano cheese starts with fresh, unpasteurized, partially skimmed cow’s milk from local farms. The production process is strictly regulated for the highest quality results:

  • Raw Milk Produced 

  • Copper Cauldrons 

  • Whey, Heat, Rennet 

  • Breaking the Curd

  • Heating 

  • Casein Plate

  • Salting

  • Drying

  • Aging

  • Resting 

  • Lifting 

  • Extraction 

  • First Molding

  • Marks of Origin 

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Maturing of Grana Padano cheese

Grana Padano cheese is aged a minimum of nine months and up to over 20 months. Once the wheels have reached 9 months of ageing, they must pass strict quality control checks conducted by the Grana Padano Protection Consorzio and supervised by an independent third body named by the Italian Agricultural Ministry.

 

Throughout the aging process, the cheese will go through several stages as it develops its unique flavor profile. If a wheel meets the Product Specification requirements, it will receive the fire-branded mark certifying its official “Grana Padano PDO” status.

Grana Padano cheese is a very versatile cheese with distinct flavor profiles that develop during each step of the aging process. Grana Padano cheese aged between 9-16 months has a delicate taste with a remarkable milky flavor. Grana Padano cheese aged more than 16 months is nutty and balanced, with aromas of dried grass and fruit.

 

Grana Padano PDO Riserva aged over 20 months pass an additional quality test and are branded “RISERVA”, with a richer distinctive flavour, it's a perfect choice for gourmets!

Grana Padano cheese has great nutritional qualities such as proteins, vitamins, and mineral salts. It is naturally lactose-free due to the characteristics of the production method and aging process.

Click below to learn more about how to pair wine, beer and honey with delicious Grana Padano cheese.

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Flavor, Storage & and Care of Grana Padano cheese

Grana Padano cheese is best stored in a refrigerator, kept at temperatures around 39° F. It is best to not store alongside other strong-flavored cheeses as this may compromise the integrity.


Always wrap in a cotton or hemp cloth to prevent the texture from drying out. The cloth must be moist, clean, and devoid of detergents and odors. Alternatively, you can opt for a good quality freezer bag.

 

Click below to learn more about how to serve Gana Padano cheese: