PARMIGIANO REGGIANO: FROM MILK TO CHEESE

20.07.2020

Every day, the milk from the evening milking is left to rest in large vats until the morning, where the fatty part spontaneously rises to the surface and is used to produce butter.

Freshly delivered from the farms, the whole milk from the morning milking is poured into the typical upturned bell-shape copper cauldrons together with the evening skimmed milk. Some minutes later natural fermented whey is added to the milk (the use of enzymatic additives or bacteria selected in laboratory is forbidden) and a natural culture of lactic ferments obtained from the spontaneous acidification of the whey remains from the cheese-making process of the previous day. The use of natural fermented whey - just like the indigenous yeasts in the production of natural wines - plays a key role in the definition of typical characteristics of the cheese.

The subsequent addition of calf rennet makes the milk curdle in just a few minutes. The curd which forms is then broken down into minuscule granules using a traditional tool called a “spino”.

This is where heat comes into the picture, in a cooking process which reaches 55 degrees centigrade, after which the cheesy granules sink to the bottom of the cauldron forming a single mass. About 50 minutes later, the cheese mass that has settled and rests at the bottom of the vat is skilfully taken out by the cheesemaker. Cut into two parts and wrapped in the standard cloth, the cheese is then placed in a mould which will give it its final shape. Each cheese is given a unique, progressive number through the application of a casein plate which travels with it just like an identity card. A few hours later, a special marking band engraves the month and year of production onto the cheese, as well as its cheese factory registration number and the unmistakable dotted inscriptions around the complete circumference of the cheese wheel, which is immersed in a water and salt-saturated solution a few days later.

After less than a month, the process of salting by absorption closes the production cycle and opens the equally fascinating cycle of maturation.

Link to video: https://youtu.be/SJ1j66cTtrA

Share this post