2 Parmesan Producers in Italy Go Kosher

Parmesan cheese is one of many signature foods Italy has to offer. Whether sprinkled over pizza or eaten as a snack, this popular cheese continues to soar in global popularity. Sadly, many within the Jewish faith are not allowed to consume this cheese due to religious and dietary restrictions. This is especially true for the Jewish community in Italy, which consists of several food connoisseurs and aficionados. While kosher parmesan cheese is available, most are simply processed and not authentic across the board. While parmesan usually refers to generic grated cheese in the West, the real cheese is produced in Northern Italy and dates back centuries. As a result, there really is no kosher Parmigiano-Reggiano available for those of the Jewish faith. This, however, is changing very soon.

fire stamp on cheese
Cheese ageing since 2006

Authentic Kosher Parmesan Parmigiano Reggiano.

For the first time ever, two local producers in Emilia Romagna have launched authentic kosher parmesan lines. This includes the famous Bertinelli cheese factory, which recently announced its plans for kosher Parmigiano-Reggiano by the end of 2015. Caseificio Colla will also have its official kosher line launch this October. The news has dazzled the culinary community, and especially Jewish food enthusiasts that have been waiting for products like these for years. Due to the small Jewish population in Italy, however, the producers will mainly be targeting Israeli and American markets. Still, the ability to have real kosher parmesan cheese has put smiles on many faces across Italy.

Kosher Parmigiano-Reggiano

In order for parmesan cheese to be deemed kosher, it must pass a number of strict protocols. This includes its milk, which must emanate from cows consuming grass or hay. Secondly the cheese must be aged for at least a year, and restricted to certain factories and provinces. This includes Modena, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, and of course, Parma. While the Azienda Agricola Fantacini firm used to produce kosher parmesan cheese, this ceased in 2010. The result was a void felt by many observant Jews that relied on kosher products for dietary reasons. With the launch of 2 new kosher lines, however, Jews within Italy can enjoy mouthwatering parmesan again without the worry of breaking religious traditions.

The Producers

The Bertinelli cheese factory dates back to the mid-1800s. As a family owned entity, they specialize in a myriad of cheeses and delicacies. Nicola Bertinelli, Owner, stated that the new kosher line is a big step for the company. The factory will ensure their kosher line meets strict guidelines, and the process of turning milk into hard cheese utilizes the right rennet. This is the main substance used for hardening, which must come from slaughtered animals based on Jewish law.

Parmesan cheese BANK – BBC news

Transcribed by Marcelo Pinto  June 1st, 2012

It’s a bank, but not as we know it. With all the security of any vault, except in here, it’s not money they’re guarding but cheese.

Three hundred thousand blocks of Parmesan cheese worth 120 million pounds to be exact. All part of a unique cheese for money loan program run by a bank. We help fiance the Parmesan cheese makers because their cheese takes two years before it’s ready for sale, that gives them a cash flow problem. So we take take their cheese in return for a cheap loan.

The Credem Bank takes the cheese from local producers on deposit and stores it here. It’s cleaned, turned, and tapped in a constant process of checking. Once the cheese is here in this vault both the parmesan cheese maker and the bank want to make sure it’s kept in top quality condition. Which is why this man is tapping it, he’s an expert in keeping that parmesan fresh.

A small wonder because this one block weighs 40 kilograms and is worth more than five hundred and fifty pounds. Giovanni Gualdi is 71 and has been a parmesan cheese maker all his life. But it’s a slow labor intensive process. But whilst the cheese ripens, the bills and wages still have to to be paid.

More than a hundred cheese makers have been forced out of business in the past five years. That’s why those like Giovanni rely on a cash-for-cheese agreement to be paid.

It ‘s been a difficult 5 years. The market has been very bad. Businesses here have spent money so they rely on the loans. Otherwise they would shut.

If the producer defaults on his loan, Credem Bank can simply sell the parmesan. It’s thinking about extending the idea to olive oil and parma ham. For now though it’s cheese and a bank that’s taking a mature attitude to lending. Duncan Kennedy, BBC News, Emilia-Romagna, Northern Italy.

 

Parmesan dot com Launches in the U.S.

Consorzio Del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano Launches Parmesan.Com

by Marcelo Pinto Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano today launched its new US website, Parmesan.com in New York. This website is now the most comprehensive online resource for recipes and information on Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a protected product and is one of the DOP cheese recognised in Italy. The website was created in partnership between Good Food Creative, Inc, 2nd Nature and Digital Brand Expressions, and New Jersey. It  is designed to help Americans and the world in general understand and appreciate the history and uses of parmesan cheese better. Rather than just provide recipes, it is going to encourage users to interact and share so that they can learn more.

Parmesan cheese comes from Parma in northern Italy, and it is the original cheese that  many American associate with cheeses from Italy that are hard, and have a strong savoury flavour. Parmesan cheese is considered a delicacy, in fact, it is the privilege of the true gourmand . Parmigiano Regiano is a brand that represents status and prestige in the world of cheeses as well, and eating it is a delightful experience.

A typical Parmesan cheese is made through a unique process of heating half fat milk, adding whey and rennet. The curds are then broken  to obtain the grainy textures. Each vat has 1000 kilos of milk in it,  and they will produce 2 wheels each. The cheese is aged for minimum 12 months before being labelled Parmigiano Reggiano by an expert from the consortium. For  few centuries ago and till now, the waste  whey from the process was fed to pigs which were then slaughtered for making Parma ham.

Visitors to the launch were treated to a taste of Parmigiano Reggiano as part of a 3 course meal that was prepared by Chef Michael White of Wisconsin who discovered and fell in love with Parmesan cheese in the course of his cooking career.

Parmesan.com will provide cooking inspiration through plenty of recipes, ranging from simple salads to main dishes. Chefs and other Parmesan.com community members are free to share the recipes with visitors, as well as rate recipes from around the world. The site also allows both visitors and members to contribute newly discovered meal ideas, build a recipe box of favorite recipes, test their knowledge of Parmesan cheese and learn how Parmigiano Regianno cheese is made. To get started, register at parmesan.com you can do so and log in using your Facebook account.

Parmigiano reggiano wheels