Sometimes, but not always. Depends. So why then ask if the age of a cheese matters? Because it is a topic that at least some of us are concerned with. For me this has to do with integrity among other things.
From my tiny spot here up north I observe that Norwegians, together with the rest of the world, probably, have taken Parmigiano Reggiano to heart. Aka Parmesan, a French name by the way. We cannot have enough of it. Personally I am more in favour of the Swiss Sbrinz, but it is made only in minute quantities, most of which is consumed domestically. The small part being exported, goes to Italy, of course. I think most of us are approaching the way Italians make use of the cheese, for everyday use. Most Italians though, have some finer Parmigiano Reggiano for festive use, such as Sundays. We mostly don’t. The reason for that is probably ignorance and availability.
I like being precise; so there is Parmigiano Reggiano, and then there is Parmigiano Reggiano. What’s the difference?
I suppose you have had firm cheeses, being it alpine varieties or Parmigiano Reggiano and felt the crunch when you chew them. From the questions I am asked from time to time it seems like most of you think they are salt crystals. A most likely assumption, actually. If you look at the cheese, the white spots that oftentimes are so characteristic for this type of cheese might very well lead you to conclude they are salt crystals. Cheese as such is salty as well. But, whatever it is, it feels good and is most charming. Most will probably characterise it as a sign of quality. But this charming crunchy feel between your teeth, is it really salt crystals? Like the flake salt you put on your table?
Poor Lactobacillus Helveticus, what wrong has it done? Nothing really, it’s a lactic bacteria along many others. The thing is, as it often is in this world, too much of it turns out bad. Too little is not relevant in this connection. During cheese making of some cheese styles, like alpine for instance, moderate amounts of this lactic bacteria is included in the starter culture used for making this style of cheese. That’s how it is, that’s how it’s been. It is the Lactobacillus Helveticus that provide the sweet, nutty taste that alpine cheeses are so famous for, especially some of the Swiss ones. For other cheeses this lactic bacteria is not present at all or just plays a minor role. So why is the Lactobaillus helveticus a potential dager to small scale artisanal firm cheeses?