Parmesan production video – how Parmigiano Reggiano is made

Normally its cows that are branded, but this is Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy often referred to as parmesan cheese. Parmesan does start with cows but it’s only their milk we want. This dairy in Mantova, Italy uses half a ton of milk for each block of cheese. It’s made in these huge copper vats. Each one holds 990 liters enough to make two giant Parmesan wheels.

Those cows have a lot of grass to eat to keep up with production. Parmesan is a hard cheese so the milk needs to be solidified. The ideal temperature for this is 33 degrees. To get the milk to solidify, the cheese maker will use rennets. This enzyme comes from calves stomachs, and it’s poured in and left for a moment to work its magic.

Because of strict European laws constraining trademarks. Parmigiano-Reggiano can only be made in certain Italian regions. This means each producer must make as much as they can because global demand is huge. As the rennet takes effect, the head cheese maker will notice subtle changes in the milk’s consistency.

The workers keep a very close eye out so they know when to start the next step. When the time is right, they get to work. Using custom made cutters, they slice through the yogurt-like substance, breaking it into lumps. This helps separate the cheese curds from the whey. After three minutes of this, the temperature is raised and the two parts separate.

The solid curds fall to the bottom leaving the liquid whey at the surface. This custom made knife casts over 4,000 pounds and it’s designed to cut the big lump of cheese at the bottom of the tank in half. In the Parmesan business, high tech goes hand in hand with old school. The cheese master now uses his big wooden paddle to lift the two halves so his colleagues can wrap them in cloth.

If they left the cheese in the bottom of the tank, someone would have to climb inside to get them out. This way is far easier. The workers can now suck out all the old whey, making the tanks ready for the next load of milk. Once the cheese is removed, it’s wrapped up and a weight is put on top. This squeezes out excess fluid.

As a hard cheese, Parmesan needs as little fluid as possible. It’ll remain like this for eight hours in a Teflon-mold. As the cheese spreads out, this imprints the dairy’s name into the sides. After about 24 hours, the Teflon form is substituted for a metal one. Here it will sit down and take on the characteristic wheel shape with a flat top and bottom and curved sides.

After three days in their molds, these cheeses could really do with a bath, a salt bath. This process actually improves that cheesy smell. The cheese is left in this salty brine for a month before it’s taken out to be dried. This helps improve the cheese’s final flavor. Once it’s time to get out of that shag bathwater they make their way to the ripening room.

The contents of this room are estimated have a total value of 17 million pounds and our freshly baked Parmesan wheels are about to join them. The wheels will spend up to two years in here maturing slowly. But to avoid growing mold they have to be turned at least once every two weeks. Turning this many cheeses would be very dull and very hard so a robot is used instead.

Although after doing this job for such a long time it looks like the robots could also do with some turning. As it matures the staff keep a close eye on the cheeses. Using his official hammer the head cheesemaker will tap on a random sample. His expert ear knows the sound of a good Parmesan from a bad one.

He’ll use a little corkscrew to test a sample, and ensure the cheese is maturing nicely. When he satisfied it up to scratch, he’ll fire up his trusty brand and mark the cheese. From it’s humble beginnings via some rather dark and briny bathwater, the world’s favorite pasta topping is born.

The Text has been extracted from this video, the cheese represented is actually Grana Padano and not Parmigiano Reggiano.

 

A video in high quality shot during our gourmet tours in June 2012, with cool music and special effect enjoy.

Tenuta Rampada and Traditional balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia

Originally appeared on Fine dining Lovers by San Pellegrino

Transcribed by Marcelo Pinto  June 1st, 2012

The traditional balsamic Italian vinegar from Reggio Emilia is one of the most
well knows product of the Italian cuisine. A rare product spread all around the
world for its particular taste ad proprieties. Grapes and tradition linked to
give to the people a unique product loved by everyone. A way of life, tradition
and respect for the land, love and family heritage that stand still in this
particular area since many years. The Italian food culture is well know all
around the planet and this is why it is so. The heritage of the families stand
where it belongs.

The Rampata word comes from a non common term, a dialect from Reggio Emilia
“La Rampeda”, a famous area that slopes or in some cases “ramps” upwards the
hills around.
We find our selves on the banks of the little Enza river in the Montecchio
Emilia area. A region well known for Lambrusco and obviously for the balsamic
vinegar from the region
Henry III of Franconio in 1046 crossed the north of Italy traveling to Rome to
see the Pope and receiving the imperial coronation.
In the days in the Po’s region he brought a lot of gift to Boniface of Canossa,
the father of Matilda and one of the most relevant men in the kingdom. This
is because he’d like to receive in return the famous vinegar from this area a
product well known in the area and made in his castle. Many people told him
about the qualities of this product.
Balsamic vinegar is a rare good, a luxury good because the specific
term “balsamic” comes from the word “balsam” and it was used and considered in
the past as a drug and an elisir of long life.
The secret of this product is the time that guarantees the best quality and it’s
impossible to have a traditional balsamic vinegar from Reggio Emilia without a
long time process.
We’re cooking the grape juice because the must needs one day cooking in a
cauldron directly on the fire, but at low heat.
In this way. The liquid part slowly disappear and the sugars can concentrate.
When the product will be put into barrels the natural process will happen, the
fermentation that get converted the sugar into alcohol.
When I was young, none of us: my brother, my cousins and me can help in this
particular phase because it was considered too dangerous.
We can watch the cooking from the window and because it needs a long time, we
woke up early in the mourning opening the windows smelling the aroma of the must
entering the rooms.
Knowing what was happening, but the only thing we could do was to peeking out
from the window.
Our farm stands inside the vineyards, our oxygen, our family’s oxygen.
We have Malvasia’s wine, Trebbiano, Ancellotta, Grasparossa and few varieties of
Lambrusco.
There is a maniac care gives to the plants, because we perfectly know that
everything is born from here, from this soil. So we can’t leave everything to
chance, especially in this last period, thanks to all the attention and care to
the basic ingredients and production phases of the Lambrusco Wine, we’ve reached
incredible results.
Not just the Italian market, but also the foreign markets have given us huge
satisfaction. Wines absolutely need a good years.
We try to produce the traditional balsamic vinegar during good vintage, but the
grapes play quite a relative role, meaning that grapes juice when cooked for
long time automatically loses a but of its vintage.
Talking about the traditional balsamic vinegar, really needs ageing in the
barrels, into the barriques. This is the real secret.
We’re in the “acetaia”, in the attic. All the “acetaie” are always in the top
parts of the buildings, in the attics because the strong cold during the winter
time and the humid heat during the summer are really crucial.
To get the traditional balsamic vinegar you need a series of different barrels
called “batteria”.
Our family tradition use to have a 5 barrels series made of different sizes: 50
litres, 40 litres, 30 litres, 20 and 15 litres. All made from different woods.

Evey time a child was born, especially a girl, a new “batteria” of barrels
started. This “batteria” was given as dowry for the future marriage of this
girl.
Every member of my family has a personal “batteria” and obviously every
personal “batteria” is personally considered the best one.
Thinking about my childhood the treasures were these family traditional balsamic
vinegar barrels.
My family has been producing traditional balsamic vinegar and wine for 4
generation, about 100 years.
My grandfather Ermete inherited this passion for the work, the wine, while the
traditional balsamic vinegar was kept only for family use.
The word “tradition” is connected entirely to my microcosm like everything that
belongs to me. It’s an experience of my life, a part of me from the outside and
the inside.
The important is communicating this feelings in a correct way to the others, not
only the children, but all the persons the we meet daily.
I have a huge respect for the people who have passed this down to me, but always
watching to the future.

The Italian tradition inside a simple product that is possible to use in many
different ways. A precious recipe that stand still on the top of the Italian
goods export. The traditional balsamic vinegar from Reggio Emilia is the essence
of the Italian rural culture and a cuisine product that is possible to use on
many different foods. If you have never tried this amazing product, now it’s
time to change you habits and to enjoy the taste of a unique essence.