Can Parmesan Cheese Be Made at Home?

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to make your own Parmesan cheese at home? Well, the good news is that it is indeed possible!

While it may not be exactly the same as the authentic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano, homemade Parmesan cheese can still be a delicious and satisfying alternative. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of making your very own Parmesan cheese right in your kitchen.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • 4 liters of fresh cow’s milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of mesophilic starter culture
  • 1/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride (if using pasteurized milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of non-chlorinated water
  • Cheese salt

Equipment Required:

  • Cheese thermometer
  • Cheese mold
  • Cheese mat
  • Cheese press

The Process:

Step 1: Heating and Acidification

In a large pot, heat the fresh cow’s milk to a temperature of around 32°C (90°F). Stir gently to prevent scorching.

Once the milk has reached the desired temperature, sprinkle the mesophilic starter culture over the surface of the milk and let it rehydrate for a few minutes. Stir gently to distribute evenly.

If you are using pasteurized milk, add calcium chloride at this point to help restore calcium levels that may have been lost during the pasteurization process.

Step 2: Coagulation

Add the diluted rennet to the milk and stir it in an up-and-down motion for about a minute. Cover the pot and let it sit undisturbed for about 45-60 minutes, or until a clean break can be achieved.

To check for a clean break, insert a knife at a slight angle into the curd and lift it gently. If the curd breaks cleanly, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Cutting and Stirring

Cut the curd into small, uniform pieces using a long knife. Aim for pieces that are around the size of rice grains. Let the curds rest undisturbed for about 5 minutes to allow them to heal.

Afterward, slowly heat the curds to approximately 46°C (115°F) over the course of 30 minutes, stirring gently to prevent matting. Maintain this temperature for an additional 30 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.

Step 4: Draining and Pressing

Transfer the curds into a cheesecloth-lined cheese mold. Fold the cheesecloth over the top of the curds and place a follower on top. Apply light pressure by hand for about 15-20 minutes, gradually increasing it as you go.

Remove the cheese from the mold, flip it over, re-dress it with fresh cheesecloth, and press again with increased pressure. Repeat this process several times over the next few hours, increasing pressure each time.

Step 5: Salting and Aging

Sprinkle cheese salt generously over all surfaces of your cheese. Rub it in gently to ensure proper absorption. Place the cheese on a cheese mat and let it air dry at room temperature for a day or two, until the surface feels dry to the touch.

Once the cheese is dry, transfer it to a cool, humid environment, such as a cellar or cave-like spot in your refrigerator. Age the cheese for a minimum of 8 months, flipping it and wiping off any excess moisture every few weeks.

And there you have it! Your very own homemade Parmesan cheese. Remember, patience is key when it comes to aging your cheese.

The longer you wait, the more flavorful and complex it will become. So why not give it a try? Experiment with different variations and enjoy the satisfaction of creating your own delicious Parmesan cheese right in your own home.