Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard Italian cheese that is popular all over the world. It is known for its nutty and salty taste and is commonly used in dishes such as pasta, pizza, and salads.

But have you ever wondered how this delicious cheese is made? In this article, we will take a closer look at the process of making Parmesan cheese.

The Origin of Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese has been around for over 800 years. It originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, specifically in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Modena. The name “Parmigiano-Reggiano” refers to its place of origin.

The Ingredients

The main ingredients used in making Parmesan cheese are cow’s milk, rennet (an enzyme that helps coagulate the milk), and salt. The milk must be raw and unpasteurized to ensure that it retains all its natural flavor.

The Process

The process of making Parmesan cheese can be broken down into several steps:

1. Milk Coagulation

The first step in making Parmesan cheese is to coagulate the milk using rennet. This causes the milk to solidify into curds and whey. The curds are then cut into small pieces to allow for better drainage.

2. Cooking the Curds

The curds are then cooked in large copper vats for several hours until they reach a temperature of around 55°C (131°F). This helps to expel any remaining whey and gives the curds their characteristic texture.

3. Forming the Cheese

The cooked curds are then placed into molds (traditionally made from beech wood) and pressed to remove any remaining whey. The cheese is then left to rest for a few days to allow the mold to take shape.

4. Salting

Once the cheese has been removed from the molds, it is soaked in brine for several weeks. This helps to give the cheese its distinctive salty taste.

5. Aging

After salting, the cheese is aged for a minimum of 12 months (and up to 36 months) in temperature-controlled rooms. During this time, the cheese develops its unique flavor and texture.

The Final Product

After aging, Parmesan cheese is ready to be enjoyed! It can be grated over pasta dishes, added to salads, or eaten on its own as a delicious snack.

  • Tip: To get the most out of your Parmesan cheese, store it in a cool, dry place and wrap it in wax paper or aluminum foil.
  • Fun Fact: According to Italian law, only cheese made in certain areas of Italy can be called “Parmigiano-Reggiano”.

In Conclusion

Parmesan cheese is a delicious and versatile ingredient that has been enjoyed for centuries. Its production process may seem complex, but it is this attention to detail that gives the cheese its unique flavor and texture. Whether grated over pasta or eaten on its own, Parmesan cheese is sure to add a touch of Italian flavor to any dish.