Parmigiano Reggiano

A wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano can cost over $1,000 and the average wheel weighs is 40 Kg. A wheel of Parmigiano is made with 550 litres of cow milk and it takes at least one year to age. It can only be made in a restricted area in northern Italy, in the region of Emilia-Romagna. Its name, Parmigiano Reggiano means “Made from the cities of Parma and Reggio nell’Emilia”.

The very first producers of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese were monks over 1000 years ago.

Then, like now, Parmigiano cheese is made with only 3 ingredients: cow milk, salt and caglio (Rennet).

There are only 239 dairies in the whole world that are certified to produce Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. All of them are based in the same area where the monks used to make it. Indeed, the natural elements such as good air quality, water and hay let this environment create the Parmigiano’s aroma, flavour and taste which is unique. Only these Diaries (Caseifici) are able to produce 3.6 million wheels each year.

The assignment of the cheese master is that of changing the milk into a yogurt-like texture then into a rubbery texture in order to remove the water from the curd before the milk is ready to be cooked. This step is fundamental for long-lasting cheese.

Once the milk is cooked, 50 minutes later, the Parmigiano cheese master made a compact mass of curd, weighing 220 pounds which is ready to be split in 2 parts and transferred into molds with linen cloths.

After few hours, the cheese is covered with “Parmigiano Reggiano” stencil which will engrave the original logo of the diary to let the customer recognize that the wheel is authentic. After 4 days, the stencil is removed and the cheese wheel are placed into the brines for 20 days to form the cheese rind. Then, the process of maturation begins. Wheels remain untouched for one year, after that, the cheese master carries out constant inspections until the cheese is ready to be branded.

The average maturation is 24 months, but like for red wine, the longer the better, some wheels are aged up to 10 years to achieve a strong taste.

The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is protected in the European Union under the protected designation of origin scheme. However, outside the E.U, Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the most counterfeit products in the world and often it is sold under the name of “Parmesan”.

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