No good pasta is complete without a sprinkling of cheese on top to tie the dish together. After all, cheese makes every meal just that little bit better.
Parmesan is also one of the most mysterious cheeses, with few people knowing its unique characteristics. One question that all cheese lovers want to know is how meltable a cheese is. So, how meltable is parmesan cheese?
Parmesan cheese is a hard cheese so will require more heat to begin melting. However, freshly grated parmesan cheese does melt nicely if given time. Processed blocks of parmesan are extremely difficult to melt without burning the cheese.
What Is Parmesan Cheese?
Depending on your weekly budget and where you live, you may be more familiar with parmesan cheese’s close relative, Parmigiano-Reggiano.
The two are closely related because parmesan cheese is the cheaper and more accessible version of Parmigiano-Reggiano, which has to undergo rigorous testing to earn its name.
The parmesan cheese that most are familiar with in the west is essentially a copycat version of Parmigiano-Reggiano, made outside of Italy.
Parmesan cheese is a very hard cheese made from cow’s milk that is intended to be grated and used as a finishing cheese. A block of parmesan cheese can be pretty gritty and is not soft enough to be enjoyable when eaten in slices.
Grating parmesan removes that rough texture, leaving the shreds creamy and delicious.
Another reason that parmesan cheese is usually served grated is because of the intense boldness of the cheese. It is a savoury cheese rich in umami with a hint of nuttiness to tie it together.
When used in moderation, parmesan can add to savoury dishes without overwhelming the dish or can help to balance overly sweet dishes.
What Is The Best Parmesan Cheese To Melt?
The secret to getting parmesan cheese to melt quickly and easily is freshness. A newly opened block of cheap parmesan cheese will be much easier to melt than a 2-week-old Parmigiano-Reggiano.
This is because the longer parmesan is exposed to oxygen, the harder it becomes, making it very difficult to melt.
So, what if you could get your hands on the freshest parmesan cheese products? Which one would be the easiest to melt?
Parmigiano-Reggiano parmesan cheese is always best when served fresh and most Italian restaurants will have fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand to provide their customers with the best experience.
The creaminess of the unprocessed, natural cheese means that it is one of the most straightforward parmesan cheese varieties to melt when fresh.
However, Parmigiano-Reggiano can be pretty expensive, which is why most people tend to buy cheaper pre-grated parmesan cheese instead.
As the name would suggest, pre-grated parmesan cheese has already been shredded before it is packaged and sold, making it hard to retain the cheese’s freshness.
That is not to say that you wouldn’t be able to melt pre-grated parmesan, simply that it may not create a smooth, aesthetic cheese melt like other pre-grated cheeses.
Ground parmesan is even less fresh than pre-grated parmesan and is likely to have different powders added to the mix to add bulk to the substance. Being such a processed version of parmesan means that ground parmesan is unlikely to melt well at all.
If you can get it to melt, then it will probably taste odd and could ruin your dish.
The best and cheapest way to ensure that you can melt parmesan cheese is to buy a block of parmesan and grate it yourself when ready to use it. You can also combine it with easy-to-melt cheese varieties such as cheddar or mozzarella.
Then wrap the block back up tightly and store it in an airtight container to keep the cheese fresh for as long as possible.
How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Take To Melt
Though parmesan cheese is a variety of hard cheese, it can melt when given patience and when cooked at the right temperature. Of course, the freshness of your parmesan will affect how quickly you can get it to melt.
Freshly treated parmesan will melt quickly. Some very high-quality parmesan will only need a little heat to melt into the perfect gooey puddle, making them the best contenders for adding some sharpness to your cheese sauce.
You may find that the parmesan you thought was high quality becomes clumpy as it melts.
This means the cheese is not as great a quality as it should be, but if you constantly stir and agitate it for 10 minutes, most of that lumpiness should melt away.
Good quality parmigiana cheese can melt at heats as low as 82C, which is about the heat of a pasta sauce as it starts to cool down. You will only need to wait a minute or two for the cheese to properly melt and incorporate into your dish at this heat on the stove.
If you want to use your oven to melt parmesan cheese, then you will have to take into account the kind of heat the oven is creating. The intense heat of the oven means that parmesan cheese will start to melt quickly but may also burn.
This is because parmesan cheese has next to no moisture, so can only melt and break down so much before it begins to burn.
That is why people melt parmesan into a sauce instead of trying to melt it alone.
Melting Parmesan FAQs
Do you have more questions about melting parmesan? Then check these FAQs out:
If the parmesan is low-quality, extremely dry or was bought preground, then these may cause the cheese not to melt well.
The primary way to prevent clumps in parmesan cheese is to combine it with a liquid such as cream, pasta water, pasta sauce or melted butter.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.