Hard-style cheeses are well aged, easy to grate and keep well for long periods​ of time. They likely originated in Italy with the production of Parmesan and Romano. Other hard-style cheeses include Asiago​, Cotija​, Grana and Kasseri. To produce hard cheeses, cheese makers cut curds into pieces the size of corn kernels to allow moisture to escape​. Hard cheeses are cooked in whey at higher temperatures than other cheeses. They require long curing times​, often at least six months but sometimes years, to achieve full flavor and a granular texture​.

Here are the qualities of three common hard-style cheeses:

  • Parmesan maintains a sweet, buttery, nutty flavor that intensifies with age; it is always aged more than 10 months.
  • Romano is creamy white in color with a hard, granular texture. Its products possess a sharp, tangy, assertive flavor. Romano is made with part-skim cow’s milk.
  • Asiago develops a sharp, buttery and nutty flavor when it is aged and turns to a hard, granular texture.

Recommended Applications

  • Grate Asiago over flatbread dough and bake.
  • Grate hard-style Italian cheeses over salads, soups, vegetables, pasta and pizza.
  • Add grated Parmesan to hot garlic mashed potatoes or risotto, or serve chunks drizzled with a quality balsamic vinegar.
  • Hard-style Italian cheeses can be added to breading to coat chicken, fish or vegetables.
  • Goes well with apples, pears, figs, dried fruits, pasta and rice.