In 1000 AD
It all began more than a thousand years ago, in an era in which so many of the discoveries that today clearly characterize our daily life have not yet happened.
In the Middle Ages, men are still completely conditioned by the climate and the environment in which they live and can only follow the natural rhythms and biological laws.
How it was preserved
As far as agriculture and livestock are concerned, this means undergoing the seasons and therefore accepting the foods that nature offers from month to month.
Conservation techniques are still in its infancy and limited to some basic processes (for example, sun drying or salting), so most foods deteriorate quickly.Milk, although available thanks to livestock, must be consumed within the day of milking and fresh cheeses do not last much longer.
It is 1135 and the Cistercian monks
Chiaravalle Abbey found in the land reclamation of the Po plain a great opportunity to encourage the expansion of agriculture and livestock and thus increase the production of good food. The consequence of this enormous work leads to a great availability of milk, much higher than the needs of the religious community and the surrounding population.It is a pity to waste one of the most nutritious and available foods in the medieval diet.Thus emerges the need to find a way to be able to keep it for a long time.
How was born
Probably as a result of some cultured reflection and a little experimentation, the idea of cooking the milk for a long time, adding the rennet and then subjecting it to salting.
This is how a hard cheese is born, which seems to acquire more and more flavor as time passes and whose aging allows to preserve unchanged the nutritive principles of its precious raw material, milk.
This rough and consistent "cacio"
it is produced in the boilers of the monasteries, which thus become the first true dairies in history. Under the careful guidance of the monks, new professional figures began to spread, the cheese makers, experts in the art of cheese production.
By virtue of its long maturation, the monks call this new cheese "caseus vetus" or "old cheese", to underline what distinguishes it from other cheeses of the previous tradition which, as fresh, should be consumed quickly.
the rural people, who are not familiar with Latin, prefer to call it "grana" by virtue of its compact paste dotted with white grains, or small calcium crystals residues of processed milk.
Depending on the provinces in which it is produced, the term indicating the origin is approached. Among the most cited are the lodesano, considered by many the oldest, the Milanese, Piacenza and Mantua.
The fame of the "grana" product
in the Po Valley it is consolidated over time and soon it becomes a fine cheese protagonist of the Renaissance banquets of princes and dukes.
Among the documented testimonies, it is found in a missive of Isabella d'Este, consort of Francesco II Gonzaga and marquise of Mantua, who sends the famous cheese as a gift to his family, lords of the Duchy of Ferrara. It is 1504.
Thanks to its rich nutritional properties
at its long conservation and the non-alterability of its food and taste characteristics, the "formai de grana" becomes an important food of the country people, especially during the terrible famines.
The "grana padano" becomes the expression of an entire social and economic culture, transversal to its classes, appreciated both by the rich and the noble, accustomed to a rather elaborate and refined cuisine, and by the poor whose daily recipes are much more simple but traditional.
With the passage of time ...
... the practice of processing milk into "grain" spreads more and more, becoming one of the pillars of the agricultural economy.
Since then, the production method of "grana" has been handed down over the centuries, faithful to a process that does not change over time and that, even today, ensures this unique cheese that organoleptic characteristics and that aspect that made it famous throughout the world.
In much closer times ...
... to us, the evolution of gastronomic culture and food practices calls for the need to clearly define the characteristics and the particularities of many preparations considered as an expression of tradition and of more or less ancient history.Thus was born the idea of transforming what was the "generic" name of a typical cheese, in a proper name, able to designate a unique and inimitable cheese.In short, there is the desire to define "Grana Padano" only that cheese produced with very specific raw materials,
thanks to a technique and a well-defined procedure, step by step
step, and in an equally outlined production area.
On 1 June 1951,
in Stresa, on Lake Maggiore, in Piedmont, some European technicians and dairy operators sign an agreement, in which they indicate the precise rules for the name of the cheeses and their specific characteristics.On this occasion the "grana lodigiano" cheese is divided into two types, which can now be found in Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano.On June 18, 1954,
on the initiative of Federlatte (Latterie Cooperative Federation) and of Assolatte (Lattiero-Casearie Industry Association) the Consortium for the protection of Grana Padano Cheese was born, in which all the producers, the maturers and the traders of the precious cheese meet.
On October 30, 1955,
the Decree of the President of the Republic n.1269 is issued concerning the "Recognition of the denominations about the processing methods, the product characteristics and the areas of production of the cheeses".Among them is also Grana Padano.
However, it's just ...
... with the ministerial decrees of 1957 that the Consorzio di Tutela del Grana Padano assumes the task of supervising the production and trade of cheese.
On December 12, 1976 ...
... the first renewal of the Statute takes place, thus confirming the project and the objectives that led to the foundation of the Grana Padano Protection Consortium, whose purpose - as indicated in the first statute - is to protect the typicality of this cheese , but also to spread and promote its consumption through correct information, initiatives and activities to support the production area, regulating the distribution and marketing not only in Italy but, increasingly, even abroad.
In 1996 Grana Padano ...
... obtains the DOP recognition - Protected Designation of Origin from the European Union.Following this recognition, the verification of the requisites necessary for any form to obtain the brand in focus is exercised - with the approval of the Protection Consortium and the Ministry of Agriculture Policies - by an external subject, currently the CSQA
Between 2002 and 2011 ...
... the Statute of the Grana Padano Protection Consortium is renewed, revised and expanded.
Thus approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, it confirms the continuation of its activities and its aims up to the scheduled date of 31 December 2054.