What are those tiny white spots that can develop on a block of Parmesan?

Turns out they’re a sign that you’ve bought a quality cheese. “Good Parmigiano-Reggiano has little white specks through it which are a result of the cheese aging,” explains Lenox637. Those little spots are “a sign of a nice Reggiano and [are] fine to eat,” says TeRReT, “but if you are at all worried, or later do encounter blue or other coloured spots, just scrape them off with a knife.”

More specifically, those little crunchy white flecks are crystallized tyrosine, an amino acid that forms during proteolysis (breakdown of the casein protein) in aged cheeses, says cheesemaestro. “It is the type found in grana-type cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano and sometimes Grana Padano, as well as in multi-year-aged Gouda,” cheesemaestro says. “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.”

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