1. Milk delivery

Milk for Parmigiano Reggiano is collected twice a day: in the evening and in the morning.

Evening milk is poured into special, large vats (“affioratori”) so the cream will naturally come up during the night. Fatty cream is skimmed from whole milk and used to make butter.

Caldaia di rame per raccolta latte formaggio parmigiano reggiano

In the morning, skimmed milk is poured into typical reversed cone-shaped cauldrons, keeping the cream carefully apart: soon after the whole morning milk is pumped in, too.

The skimmed and whole milk ratio depends on to the cheese master’s decision based on weather conditions and milk’s parameters. This is how the flavour of Parmigiano Reggiano is obtained.

2. Milk processing

The processing of milk into Parmigiano Reggiano is carried out in three phases:

Caldaia per riscaldamento formaggio parmigiano reggiano

Phase 1- Heating

When milk is all inside the cauldrons, it is gradually heated. Meanwhile, the whey with living lactic ferments obtained from the process of the day before, is added. Temperature turns up to 30° C and rennet is added. After being accurately blended, milk rests for about 8/10 minutes and coagulation starts.

Caldaia per fase di spinatura formaggio parmigiano reggiano

Phase 2 - "Spinatura" (clumb breaking)

When milk becomes “curdled”, the density of its clumps is measured in order to start “spinatura”, breaking curd into small clumps by means of a dedicated tool called “spino” (hawthorn, in English, recalling the plant which branches were originally used for this purpose). “Spinatura” finishes when all clumps become as tiny as rice grains.

Phase 3 - Cooking

During cooking, clumps start expelling moisture. While temperature is gradually increased up to 55° C, heavier clumps will sit on the bottom of the cauldron and rest for about 50 minutes, sticking into a big, compact mass all together. Soon after the cheese maker, holding a wooden paddle, will lift the mass out of the cauldron and wrap it around a cloth of linen; the mass is then cut into two halves, which will be individually fitted inside shaping moulds. Two wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano are finally born!

3. Parmigiano Reggiano shaping

On the day of their creation, wheels are flipped twice, and each time the wet cloth is replaced with a drier one that will absorb more moisture. After that, the cloth is finally removed and the wheel fitted inside a piercing Teflon mould issued by the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium.

marchi impressi su formaggio parmigiano reggiano

Phase 1 - piercing

The Teflon piercing mould is fitted between the wheel and the outer belt and the following details will be imprinted overnight:

  • The name “Parmigiano Reggiano”
  • The identification number of the production site
  • Date (month/year) of production
  • The EC seal
  • The “D.O.P” brand. (Protected Designation of Origin – P.D.O.)
Struttura di acciaio per salatura formaggio parmigiano reggiano

Phase 2 - Salting

The day after, wheels are moved into special stainless steel moulds in order to be given the typical curved shape.

Finally, salt is added: for about 20 days, wheels are kept under a saturated solution of salt and water until salt is gradually absorbed by cheese.

sale per la stagionatura del formaggio parmigiano reggiano

Phase 3 - Ageing

After salting, the one-month long process is over and the ageing phase starts: wheels are taken to the warehouse and stored on wooden shelves. Temperature and humidity are constantly monitored, there.

Wheels will rest for about one year. Meanwhile, they will be checked, flipped and brushed every ten days. The ageing phase will crucially affect the final quality of Parmigiano Reggiano.

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