Grana refer to a family of hard, mature cheeses from Italy that have a granular, flaky texture and are mainly used for grating. Around the world, Grana is a generic term used to define three main varieties of grana cheese—Parmigianino-Reggiano, Grana Padano and Grana Trentino and other smaller variants like Granone Lodigiano, Trentingrana and Gransardo. However, in Europe, the word “Grana” is legally protected by Grana Padano Protected Designation of Origin, such that only Grana Padano can use the term to sell its produce in EU countries.
The most popular Grana Italian cheeses are of course Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano. True Parmigianino-Reggiano, named after the Provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua, in which it is made, has a hard, gritty texture and is fruity and nutty in taste.
Grana Padano, on the other hand, refers to the valley Pianura Padana in which it is made. Though similar to Parmigianino-Reggiano, young Grana Padano is slightly less crumbly, milder and less complex than its famous, aged kin. On the other hand, Grana Trentino follows the same method to produce Parmigianino Reggiano but is made in the province of Trento, giving it is name.
All three main varieties of Grana cheese carry the label D.O.P. (Denomination of Protected Origin), guaranteeing their authenticity and origin of production methods.