Parmesan Cheese is strictly bound to its place of origin. Both the production of milk and its transformation into cheese take place in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna to the west of the Reno River and Mantua to the east of the Po River. The secret of such goodness originates in the place of origin, in the natural feed, and in the high quality milk with no additives. During the long aging process, natural fermenting agents in the milk give the cheese its particular flavor and texture, in other words, its typicality.
The Cheese Maker
The transformation of milk into Parmigiano-Reggiano depends on the skill of the cheese maker. This knowledge and these techniques are the result of generations of experience, handed down through the centuries and always produced in the same area. 16 litres of milk are used to make 1Kg of Parmigiano Reggiano. It takes about 550 litres of milk to make one wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano.
Made by hand
Milk from the evening milking is poured into the holding basins, where separation of the cream takes place naturally overnight. This partly skimmed milk is then poured into the copper cauldrons where it is mixed with the whole milk from the morning milking.
After warming the milk in the copper cauldron, natural whey starter is added. This whey is a culture of natural lactic ferments obtained from the cheese making process of the day before.
The natural enzyme rennet is then added which allows the milk to curdle. The curdled milk is broken down into small granules with a huge balloon whisk called a “spino”. This is followed by the cooking process – a very delicate phase in the cheese making. The heat is skilfully controlled by the master cheese maker to expel water from the granules. Once the heat is shut off, the granules sink to the bottom of the cauldron, forming a compact mass.
The cheese mass is lifted from the bottom of the cauldron and divided into two parts. Each part is placed in a special mould called a “fascera” where it rests for two to three days.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product. This means that its distinctive features and its link with the area of origin are guaranteed by a system of EU rules designed to protect both consumers and producers. Production is carried out according to the product specifi cation of the PDO, and it’s certified by an independent body.
The trademark Parmigiano-Reggiano can only be put on a cheese:
The milk is produced by cows fed according to strict regulations that allow the use of grass grown only in the place of origin, together with natural animal feed.
Certain foodstuffs are strictly forbidden:
The cows are milked twice a day and the milk is taken to the cheese house within two hours of each milking. The milk is used straight from the cows – fresh and without additives or treatment of any kind.