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Nov 16, 2011 02:30 PM

Need help about my parm. regiano

I have a block of parm. that has little white spots all over it. What could this be? Thanks.

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  1. It's fine. Just scrape it off with the sharp edge of a sharp knife. Parmigiano crystallizes.

    1. Good Parmigiano Reggiano has little whit specks through it which are a result of the cheese aging. I'm pretty sure that they are clusters of amino acids. I'm sure one of our cheese experts out there will have a more comprehensive answer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lenox637

        +1 the good stuff has little white specks throughout. I've heard it is amino acids and I've heard it is calcium crystals, no idea which is true but they are supposed to be there.


        if it looks like that then it is in fact amino acids and a sign of a nice reggiano and fine to eat, but if you are at all worried, or later do encounter blue or other coloured spots just scrape them off with a knife.

        1. Yes, as others have said, the white spots are amino acids and it is supposed to have them. Don't scrape them off. Mold spots are different and unmistakable.

          1. Small spots are sodium caseate, which give the wonderful crunch. Large white area are beginnings of mold, as said scrape off.

            7 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Hi, Deluca-
                I thought the crystallization was tyosine binding to calcium chloride?

                  1. re: lunchbox

                    AAaaah - (assuming tyrosine) - so when some people say it is the result of amino acids and other say it is the result of calcium - they are both right in that it is an interaction between an amino acid and calcium. Learned something new.

                    1. re: thimes

                      Not quite. You're confusing two different types of crystals. The first is crystallized tyrosine, an amino acid, that forms during proteolysis (breakdown of the casein protein) in very aged cheeses. It is the type found in grana-type cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano and sometimes Grana Padano, as well as in multi-year-aged gouda. Typically, these crystals are dispersed throughout the cheese and are sometimes not visible, although you certainly can appreciate the delightful crunch when you've bitten into one.

                      The second type is calcium lactate (not calcium chloride) crystals. These form from the calcium and lactose (converted to lactic acid during cheesemaking) in milk. They are most often found in aged cheddars, are typically large enough to be visible, and are usually limited to the surface of the cheese. Most cheddar makers consider their presence a defect and take measures to minimize them, if only because the public finds them unsightly and assumes that the cheese is moldy or harmful, which it isn't.

                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                        fascinating - so in a high quality aged parm-reg you will often see small - pin head sized - white dots throughout the cheese (not just on the surface).

                        Are these tyrosine or calcium lactate - and if they are undesirable in cheddar why are they often considered desirable in parm .. .. . .

                        1. re: thimes

                          Thimes, the crunchy crystals in Parm are always tyrosine. The ones on cheddar (not often seen these days) are different: they are calcium lactate. They are harmless, but can resemble small white spots of mold, so, if present, they are usually removed.