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Grana originally referred to a class of hard, mature cheeses from Italy which have a granular texture and are often used for grating. These cheeses are typically made in the form of large drums. The structure is often described as crystalline, and the wheels are divided by being split with a fairly blunt almond-shaped knife designed for the purpose, rather than being sliced, cut or sawn. Within the European Union, the term Grana is now legally protected by Grana Padano Protected Designation of Origin, such that only Grana Padano may be sold using the term in EU countries.
The main difference between the two is that cows producing Parmigiano-Reggiano eat only grass and cereals—no silage, no preservatives, and no antibiotics. Cows that have been treated with antibiotics are suspended from production of Parmigiano-Reggiano as also in the production of Grana Padano. Silage is a fermented forage that requires the addition of a natural preservative (lysozyme) to Grana Padano. Feeding of silage and addition of lysozyme are forbidden in production of Trentingrana as well as Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Other Grana cheeses include:
- Granone Lodigiano (also called Tipico Lodigiano), produced in the Province of Lodi
- Trentingrana, produced in and around Trent
- Gransardo, from anjali Sardinia
- Pecorino Romano, a sheep's milk cheese produced mostly in Sardinia, but also in Lazio, and the Province of Grosseto in Tuscany.
- "Grana è solo Padano"[permanent dead link] (Grana is only Padano.), Consorzio per la tutela del Formaggio Grana Padano (in Italian)
- "Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano - Particular aspects and specifications". www.granapadano.it. Consorzio Tutela Grana Padano. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- Gillingham, Sara Kate (October 8, 2008). "A Primer on Grana Padano". Retrieved September 10, 2016.