The last evaluation of the sample checks for its consistency.
This is a very important characteristic, as it allows us to determine almost immediately whether we Parmigiano Reggiano is 12, 24, or 36 months old, namely, “young”, “matured” or “extra old”.
The tactile analysis, already referred to in the visual analysis, is carried out by holding the stick of Parmigiano Reggiano with the fingers, bringing it to the mouth, biting it, deforming through mastication, and finally swallowing. In these stages tasters can assess the elasticity of the sample, namely its ability to resume its initial shape after the pressure of mastication, and its hardness, that is, the resistance of the sample to a very slight opening and shutting of the jaws.
When examining a sliver of Parmigiano Reggiano, the main focus must be on its granularity and crumbliness, characteristics that become more pronounced with ageing.
The cheese is grainy when more or less fine rounded grains in the paste can be easily perceived during mastication and at the end of it. A long aged Parmigiano Reggiano has a more granular texture.
Crumbliness is the ability of the sample to break down into numerous small pieces at the start of chewing. Often, when cutting a sliver of very matured Parmigiano Reggiano, one can already notice its characteristic tendency to break down into very small slivers.
Another tactile characteristic of Parmigiano Reggiano is solubility, which, like the previous descriptors, increases with ageing. By solubility is meant the sensation that emerges when the sample melts rapidly in the saliva.
During the tactile evaluation of the sliver or stick in the mouth, one may also feel the tyrosine crystals when chewing - the ones that in the visual evaluation of the paste were noticed as white dots.