Iconic Italian cheeses should not be out of reach for kosher consumers, yet they often are. One of the world’s most famous cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano, is also one of the most evasive cheeses in the kosher world. The one kosher Parmigiano on the U.S. market, Fanticini, has been discontinued. But the recent kosher offering of Bertinelli shows promise.
This new kosher Parmigiano has stirred up a thousand year-old milk/meat controversy: Is it “kosher” to use animal rennet in cheese? The strict P.D.O. standards of traditional Italian Parmigiano Reggiano dictate that this cheese must be made with animal rennet. The world’s largest kosher supervisor, the Orthodox Union (OU), which currently certifies no animal rennet cheese, just declined to certify Bertinelli’s Parmigiano.
What does this mean? Where Bertinelli’s cheese would have had a much greater acceptance and distribution with the OU’s stamp of approval, it now will not be as widespread.
Kosher consumers long for a real Parmigiano Reggiano. In its absence, the most common substitutes have been Argentinian Reggianito or domestic parmesan. Sometimes available is Gran Duca’s Grana Padano, a popular cheese in Italy from the same family as Parmigiano, but with a slightly more delicate flavor.
Below are links to stories on the plight of Parmigiano Reggiano in the kosher world:
The announcement mid-June 2015 of Bertinelli’s kosher Parmigiano Reggiano:
The mid-July 2015 announcement that the OU will not certify Bertinelli’s kosher Parmigiano Reggiano:
An article from 2012 on the issues surrounding Fanticini Parmigiano Reggiano:
The Cheese Mistress