From the green shaker to the triangular block, parmesan cheese is popular on dinner tables worldwide. This grated cheese adds a salty flavor to various dishes, from pizzas and pasta plates to soups and salads.
So when I heard of a potential parmesan cheese shortage in 2021, I started to freak out. Seriously, don’t mess with my cheese! A cooler head prevailed, and I researched all about this scenario along with some solutions.
Want to learn about how to handle a parmesan cheese shortage in 2021?
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Is There A Parmesan Cheese Shortage in 2021?
First things first, is there going to be a parmesan cheese shortage in 2021? The simple answer is no, production remains the same, but prices may skyrocket this year.
The pandemic placed a considerable demand on milk, which lead the prices to go up. This strain has trickle-down effects on the cost of the products that contain it. You may have noticed that some products including fresh mozzarella and cream cheese, have already gone up in price. Parmesan’s pricing lagged because it ages 10 months before it hits the shelves.
“Specifically… starting in April 2021, the price of parmesan will go up by $1.50-$2 for a pound and about $0.70-$0.75 for a wedge—and the surge will last for six months or longer,” according to Schuman Cheese Chief Customer Officer Neil Cox via Eat This Not That.
Cheaper Parmesan Cheese Substitutes
We are big proponents of saving money on groceries, so if parmesan is now out of your budget, don’t despair, there are other options to satisfy.
Can Parmesan Cheese Only Be Made In Italy?
Yes, and to be an authentic Parmesan Reggiano cheese it needs to be made in the specific regions of Italy, Parma, and Reggio. The area is small and doesn’t have many producers, which makes the cheese cost more than other varieties.
Substitutes For Parmesan Cheese
- Romano – Named after Rome, where the cheese originated, the hard version of this cheese is a great substitute for parmesan. It has a bit of a stronger flavor so you can go a little lighter on the amount when cooking. Romano also has a higher salt content to check the taste before adding additional salt to the dish. The cost increase will hit pecorino since it includes milk (sheep’s milk in this case), but it ages for five months longer than Parmesan so you have some time before that happens. Also, since the region has more producers, the supply is typically more extensive, leading to a lower cost.
- Grana Padano – If you enjoy parmesan for its mild taste, Grana Padano may be a great substitute. This cheese is made in Northern Italy and aged nine months.
- Nutritional Yeast – Why not take a nod from vegans who have been using nutritional yeast as a parmesan substitute for years? This vegetarian dietary supplement is made from the same yeast bakers use, which is processed to remove any leaving properties. The result creates high protein flakes that have a cheesy “umami” taste that mimics that of cheese. It has similar calories to Parmesan lasts in the fridge for two years. You will usually use about half the amount of nutritional yeast when subbing, but since every brand varies a bit, taste as you go.
So, what’s the closest cheese to Parmesan? Both pecorino romano and Grana Padano are the closest cheeses to parmesan.
How Do You Know If Parmesan Cheese Is Still Good?
Since parmesan is now even more expensive, we need to make sure that we store it properly. Cook’s Illustrated insists that the best way to keep parmesan cheese is to place it in a large Ziploc bag. Be sure to remove any additional air before sealing for optimal freshness.
Unopened Parmesan can last in the refrigerator for 7-9 months. Opened, it will stay with optimal quality for about 1-2 months. The taste will degrade over time but you can still eat it for about six months. If you see any mold on a block of cheese, it’s ok to remove the spot and eat around it. The rind will often have a darker color, so there is no need for concern. As with any food, your senses are the best way to determine if something has gone bad. If it looks or smells funny, it’s best to discard it.
To get the most out of your cheese, don’t discard the rinds! While they are often too hard to grate, they still can provide a ton of flavor. Place them in any pasta sauce while it simmers or collect a bunch and then boil them in water for a cheesy topping for pasta.
What Do You Think?
Have you head about a parmesan cheese shortage in 2021? Have you seen an increase in the price? Let me know what recipes you love with cheese in the comments below. I’d love to hear.
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Cindy Mom, the Lunch Lady says
My SO is Italian so Parmesan is a staple in our household. We do find Grana Padano to be similar in taste and more cost effective. Great post!
I got really nervous for second! We love freshly grated Parm, but often sub Romano or Grana Padono. Glad to know I’m on the right track if the price of Parm takes a hit.
None at my grocery store or the local Costco.