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Parmigiano Reggiano: The King of Cheeses – III

Fabrizio Giacobazzi: “The cheese curds must settle at the bottom of the cauldron to firm up.

Once the wheel has been extracted, we wrap it in cheesecloth and let it dry for 15 minutes, hanging it on a stick over the cauldron. Then we cut the wheel in half and try to make two similar wheels, which we call twins because they come from the same cauldron.

The wheels are then hauled up from the cauldrons, still wrapped in cheesecloth, and slowly placed into plastic molds. Once the whey has drained from the wheels, we take them to the pre-salting room, a clean and hygienic room where the temperature is kept at 18°C.

We remove the cheesecloth and place the wheels on long tables. We line the plastic molds with a branding sheet to imprint the name Parmigiano Reggiano on the cheese rind in a repeating pin-dot pattern, together with the trademark, the month and year of production, and the dairies’ registration number.

A disc made of casein is applied to the top of the cheese wheels, specifying the day it was produced, dairies’ registration number, and cauldron’s number.

After removing the branding sheets, we replace the plastic molds with steel ones and leave the wheels to dry. As soon as the steel molds are removed, the wheels are taken to the salting room, where they will be put in a salt-saturated solution for about 20 days. Through this process, the salt will penetrate into the cheese and it will help the wheels to dry even more. Salt is the only natural preservative used in Parmigiano Reggiano.

The wheels are extracted from the brine bath and taken to a warm room for a few hours at about 27-28°C. When the wheels are dry, we take them to the aging room in which the humidity level must be at least 80%. The wheels are then placed on wooden shelves to begin the aging process. Every 7-8 days, an automatic cleaning machine lifts the wheels, cleans them, flips them upside down and puts them back onto the shelves.”

The consortium’s experts inspect each wheel one by one. If the wheels are declared fit to become Parmigiano Reggiano, they are heat-branded with the oval certification mark.

Igino Morini: “Parmigiano Reggiano must be matured for at least 12 months. The more the cheese ages, the more we will be able to taste notes of nutmeg and spices, meat stock, and dried fruit. The saltiness and sweetness are well-balanced. The cheese paste is grainy and crumbly.

Parmigiano Reggiano is very rich in amino acids and calcium, which are very good for the bones. It is also lactose-free, therefore even people who are lactose intolerant can eat it.

There are many counterfeit wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano all over the world. There are many factories who exploit the name and good reputation of Parmigiano Reggiano to make cheese called with similar and evocative names.

In Europe we are able to protect our name even from counterfeits, but inspection activities outside of Europe are much more complex”.


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