When it comes to Parmesan cheese, the type of milk used plays a crucial role in its production. The traditional method of making Parmesan involves using raw cow’s milk. The milk used for Parmesan is typically sourced from cows that are fed a specific diet, mainly consisting of grass and hay.

Raw Cow’s Milk

Raw cow’s milk refers to milk that has not undergone any pasteurization process. This means that the milk is in its natural state, with all the enzymes and bacteria present. Using raw cow’s milk in Parmesan production allows for the development of complex flavors and textures that are characteristic of this beloved cheese.

The Role of Bacteria

Bacteria play a significant role in the transformation of milk into Parmesan cheese. During the cheesemaking process, specific bacteria strains are added to the raw cow’s milk.

These bacteria consume lactose, a sugar present in milk, and produce lactic acid as a byproduct. The lactic acid helps coagulate the milk proteins and contributes to the unique flavor profile of Parmesan.


In addition to bacteria, rennet is another crucial ingredient used in Parmesan production. Rennet is an enzyme that aids in coagulating the milk proteins, allowing them to form curds. These curds are then cut into small pieces and heated to separate them from whey – a liquid component.

Maturation Process

After separating the curds from whey, they are molded into large wheels or blocks and left to mature for an extended period, usually around 12-36 months. During this maturation process, enzymes continue to break down proteins and fats within the cheese, resulting in its distinct nutty flavor and crumbly texture.

Salt Bath

Before the aging process begins, Parmesan wheels are submerged in a brine solution. This brine bath helps to enhance the flavor and preserve the cheese.


The milk used in Parmesan production is a critical factor in determining its taste, texture, and overall quality. Raw cow’s milk, with its natural enzymes and bacteria, contributes to the unique flavors that make Parmesan so beloved.

Additionally, the use of rennet and the careful maturation process further enhances these flavors. So next time you enjoy a slice of Parmesan cheese, take a moment to appreciate the role milk plays in creating this culinary masterpiece.