Grana Padano

Grana Padano is a cheese originating in the Po river Valley in northern Italy that is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. There are less strict regulations governing its production compared to Parmigiano Reggiano.[1] This hard, crumbly-textured cheese is made with unpasteurized cows' milk that is semi-skimmed through a natural creaming process. To preserve the authenticity of the manufacturing processes and raw materials used to make this cheese, Grana Padano is registered as Geographical Indication in Italy since 1954[2] and as a European Union protected designation of origin (PDO) since 1996,[1][3][upper-alpha 1] and is protected in several other countries based on the Lisbon Agreement and bilateral agreements.[5][6]

Grana Padano
Country of originItaly
Region, townEmilia-Romagna:
province of Piacenza

provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Lodi, Mantua (to the left of the Po), Milan and Pavia

province of Cuneo

Trentino-Alto Adige:
province of Trento

province of Padua, Verona,
Vicenza, Rovigo and Treviso,

In addition to these main centres
production is permitted in Emilia Romagna: province of Bologna
(to the right of the Reno), Ferrara, Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena, and Rimini
Lombardy: provinces of Como,
Lecco, Sondrio and Varese
Piedmont: provinces of Alessandria,
Asti, Biella, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola,
Novara, Turin and Vercelli

Veneto: province of Venice
Source of milkCows
Aging time8–20 months
CertificationItaly: DOC 1955
EU: PDO 1996
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Origin of the name

The name comes from the Italian word grana, a reference to the characteristically grainy texture, and the demonym padano, meaning "from Val Padana" (the Po valley).


Grana Padano was developed by monks of Chiaravalle Abbey in the 12th century.[3] It can last a long time without spoiling, and is sometimes aged for up to two years. It is made in a similar way to the Parmigiano Reggiano of Emilia-Romagna, but over a much wider area and with different regulations and controls.[1]

Production process

Like Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is a semi-fat hard cheese which is cooked and ripened slowly for at least nine months. If it passes quality tests, it is fire-branded with the Grana Padano trademark. The cows are milked twice a day.[7] Milk produced in the evening is skimmed to remove the surface layer of cream and mixed with fresh milk produced in the morning. The partly skimmed milk is transferred into copper kettles and coagulated; the resulting curd is cut to produce granules with the size of rice grains, which gives the cheese its characteristic texture, and then warmed to 53–56 °C (127–133 °F). It is produced year-round, and varies seasonally as well as by year. Though similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the younger Grana Padano cheeses are less crumbly, milder and less complex in flavor than the better-known, longer-aged Parmigiano.[1]

About 150 factories make Grana Padano in the Po Valley area, and an estimated 76,724 tons of this cheese are manufactured annually.[8]


A wheel of Grana Padano is cylindrical, with slightly convex or almost straight sides and flat faces. It is 35 to 45 cm (14 to 18 in) in diameter, and 15 to 18 cm (5.9 to 7.1 in) high. It weighs 24 to 40 kg (53 to 88 lbs) per wheel. The rind, which is thin, is pale yellow.[9]

Grana Padano is sold in three different ripening stages:[10]

  • "Grana Padano" (9 to 16 months): texture still creamy, only slightly grainy
  • "Grana Padano oltre 16 mesi" (over 16 months): crumblier texture, more pronounced taste
  • "Grana Padano Riserva" (over 20 months): grainy, crumbly and full flavoured
After nine month of aging, each wheel gets checked and, if considered of adequate quality, gets fire-branded with the Grana Padano logo.

Grana padano cheese typically contains cheese crystals, semi-solid to gritty crystalline spots that at least partially consist of the amino acid tyrosine.

Nutritional value and calories

1.5 litres of fresh, naturally partially-skimmed cows' milk from the production area, are needed to make 100 g of Grana Padano PDO cheese. The Grana Padano processing and ageing procedures determine an important bioavailability of vitamins and minerals, the supply of proteins with nine essential amino acids and make it a highly digestible product. In addition, Grana Padano is lactose-free due to the characteristics of its production and ageing process, which also leads to a reduction of lipids. It contains a galactose content of less than 10 mg per 100 g.

The Grana Padano PDO Production Specifications regulates the entire production chain, from the cows' fodder to the branding of the wheels, therefore the average nutritional value and calories of Grana Padano PDO cheese remain stable and any variation in them is irrelevant for the purpose of defining a balanced diet.

100 grams of Grana Padano PDO cheese contain 398 kilocalories (1,666 kJ).

Nutritional table for a medium portion of 100 grams of Grana Padano

Main nutrients
Water 32 g
Calories 398 kcal
Total proteins 33 g
Total amino acids 6 g
Fat 29 g
Fiber 0 g
Ashes 4.6 g
Sugar (Carbohydrates) <1 g
Calcium 1165.0 mg
Phosphorus     692.0 mg
Potassium 120 mg
Magnesium 63 mg
Zinc 11 mg
Copper 0.5 mg
Iron 0.14 mg
Calcium / phosphorus ratio 1.7
Salt 1.5 g
Iodine 35.5 µg
Selenium 12 µg
Vitamin A 224 µg
Vitamin B1 20 µg
Vitamin B2 0.36 mg
Vitamin B3 3.0 µg
Vitamin B6 0.12 mg
Vitamin B12 3.0 µg
Vitamin D3 0.5 µg
Vitamin E 206 µg
Pantothenic acid 246 µg
Choline 20.0 mg
Biotin 6.0 µg
Saturated fat 18.4 g
Monounsaturated fat   7.4 g
Polyunsaturated fat 1.1 g
Cholesterol 98.3 mg



  1. Grana Padano is the most produced cheese under the protected designation of origin-scheme.[4]


  1. "Grana Padano -".
  2. "Consorzio per la tutela del formaggio Grana Padano" (PDF). IP Australia. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  3. Donnelly, Catherine W., ed. (2016). The Oxford companion to cheese. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199330881. OCLC 947145356.
  4. Aspinwall, Martin; et al. (2009). Harbutt, Juliet (ed.). World cheese book (1st American ed.). London: DK. ISBN 978-0756654429. OCLC 298183484.
  5. "oriGIn Worldwide GIs Compilation". ORIGIN-GI. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  6. "Grana Padano". GI View - European Union. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  7. "Parmigiano-Reggiano". Elsevier. December 2018.
  8. Fox, P. F.; et al. (2000). Fundamentals of cheese science. Aspen Publication. ISBN 0834212609. OCLC 1016031218.
  9. "Grana Padano -". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  10. Gillingham, Sara Kate (October 8, 2008). "A Primer on Grana Padano". Retrieved September 10, 2016.
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