Discover the King of Cheeses
Today the cheese factory has 30 boilers working to produce Parmigiano Reggiano, a whole department dedicated to the brine stage and a warehouse for ageing the wheels. Guided by the skill and craftsmanship of the cheesemaker Andrea, the production process is based on age-old methods and the exclusive use of simple, genuine ingredients: milk from the areas near the factory, fire and rennet, as well as salt for the salting process.
The milk in the copper cauldron
The milk from the evening milking, partly skimmed through natural separation of the cream, is poured into the copper cauldrons where it is mixed with whole milk from the morning milking. After warming the milk in the copper cauldron, natural whey starter is added, It is a culture of natural lactic ferments obtained from the cheese-macking process of the day before.N ext, rennet, a natural enzyme from stomach of suckling calves, is added. It causes the milk to curdle.
Breaking up the curds
The curdled milk is broken down into small granules with a huge balloon whisk called “spino”.
This is a very delicate phase in the cheese-making process. The heat is skillfully controlled by the master cheese maker to expel water from granules. Once the heat is shut off the granules sink to the bottom of the cauldron, forming a compact mass.
After about 50 minutes, the cheese mass is lifted from the bottom of the cauldron and divided into two parts.
The cheese is then cut into two pieces and wrapped in the typical muslin fabric and placed in a mould to give it its definitive shape. A casein plate is used to mark the cheese with a unique, progressive number that will act as a sort of ID card for it. After a few hours, a special marking band stamps the month and year of production on the wheel, together with the registration number of the factory and the unmistakable dotted writing all around the circumference of the wheel.
The cheese is immersed in brine (a solution of water and natural salt) for about 20 days to allow the absorption of the salt needed to flavour the cheese and permit its long aging.
At the end of salting process, the cheese wheel is ready to be aged. The aging continues for 24 months or more, during which time the cheese develops its fragrance, texture, and digestibility.
Inspecting and Marking
At the end of the minimim period of aging (12 months) each and every wheel is inspected. An expert from the Consortium evaluates the appearance, structure, and characteristics of the cheese. After the checks, the wheels with the requisites for the Protected Denomination of Origin are branded with the mark.