Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard Italian cheese that is widely popular all over the world. It is commonly used for grating and is a favorite topping for pasta dishes, salads, and soups.
This cheese has a rich, nutty flavor and a granular texture that makes it unique. If you’re curious about how to make this delicious cheese at home, keep reading!
The Ingredients You Will Need
To make Parmesan cheese, you need the following ingredients:
- 16 cups of whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon of thermophilic culture
- 1/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride (if using pasteurized milk)
- 1/8 teaspoon of rennet
- 2 tablespoons of salt
The Equipment You Will Need
You will also need some equipment to make Parmesan cheese:
- A large pot for heating the milk
- A thermometer to monitor the temperature of the milk and cheese curds
- A cheese cloth or muslin cloth to strain the curds from the whey
- A cheese press to shape and compress the cheese curds into a solid block
The Process of Making Parmesan Cheese
Now that you have gathered all your ingredients and equipment let’s start making Parmesan Cheese.
- Heat the Milk: Pour 16 cups of whole milk into your large pot and heat it up to around 32°C. Note: Make sure that you use high-quality milk for good tasting results.
- Add Culture: Once the milk is heated, add 1/4 teaspoon of thermophilic culture to the pot and stir well. Note: The culture will help the milk to coagulate and form cheese curds.
- Add Calcium Chloride: If you are using pasteurized milk, you need to add calcium chloride at this point. It helps to restore the natural balance of calcium in the milk which gets disrupted during pasteurization.
- Add Rennet: After adding calcium chloride, add 1/8 teaspoon of rennet to the pot and stir it in a circular motion for around 30 seconds. Note: Rennet is an enzyme that helps to coagulate the milk further.
- Wait for Milk to Coagulate: Cover the pot with a lid and leave it undisturbed for around 45 minutes. During this time, the milk will start to coagulate and form cheese curds.
- Cut Curds: Once you see that your mixture has become firm, cut it into small pieces using a long knife. This process is known as cutting curds.Note: Make sure your cuts are even so that they form uniform size curds.
- Cook Curds: Now you need to cook your cheese curds by increasing their temperature slowly over a period of about an hour. Stir them gently throughout this process.
- Drain and Salt: Once your cheese has reached its final temperature (around 53°C), remove it from heat and drain off any excess whey by straining through a cheesecloth or muslin cloth. Then, sprinkle two tablespoons of salt over the cheese curds and mix well.
- Press Cheese: Transfer the cheese curds into a cheese press and compress them firmly to remove any remaining liquid. Note: The cheese needs to be pressed for at least 24 hours, so make sure you have a press that can keep applying pressure for this long.
- Aging: After pressing, remove the cheese from the press and let it dry at room temperature for a few days. Then, transfer it to a cool place with low humidity (around 15°C) and let it age for around 12-36 months. During this time, the cheese will develop its signature flavor and texture.
The Final Stage
Making Parmesan cheese is a lengthy process that requires patience and attention to detail. However, with the right ingredients, equipment, and technique, you can create your own delicious Parmesan cheese that will impress your friends and family. So give it a try!