Grana Padano was created by the Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle who used ripened cheese as a way of preserving surplus milk. By the year 1477, it was regarded as one of the most famous cheeses of Italy. Today, this similar products are made in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino, and Veneto.
Like Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano is a semi-fat hard cheese which is cooked and ripened slowly (for up to 18 months). It is produced by curdling the milk of grass-fed cows. The cows are milked twice a day, the milk is left to stand, and then partially creamed. It is produced all year round and the quality can vary seasonally as well as by year. A wheel of Grana Padano is cylindrical, with slightly convex or almost straight sides and flat faces. It measures 35 to 45 cm in diameter, and 15 to 18 cm in height. It weighs 24 to 40kg per wheel. The rind, which is thin, is white or straw yellow.
Grana Padano cheese has been produced since the 12th century, and production and quality are now overseen by the Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Grana Padano.