Blessed Are The Cheesemakers: Producing (and Tasting) the King of Cheese on the Italian Days Bologna Food Tour

Think you know parmesan cheese? Think again. We recently got an education about cheesemaking in Bologna, where recognizing and appreciating quality is the key ingredient of the Italian Days Food Experience. Well that, and the amazing food feast at the end. Check out this labor of love in creating Parmigiano Reggiano - the undisputed King of Cheese - over a decade to produce and just a second to wash down. 

Stirring the curd from the bottom

Consortium #1384, producers of fine Parmigiano Reggiano, also known as the “King of Cheese”.

The Casaro, or Master Cheesemaker, crafts the cheese

Rennet is added to form curds 

Curds beginning to form

The plant is operated by just six men who begin the days first round of production at 4:30am. Parmigiano cheese production is labor intensive to say the least.

Making cheese is a labor of love

The curd ball is suspended in cheesecloth above the whey

Each ball is cut in two and makes two 110 lb (55 kilo) wheels 

The Consortium operates under DOP, which in English stands for Protected Designation of Origin, a strict set of government regulations established to ensure total traceability from farm to table. Rules are enforced by official inspectors throughout the entire production process.  

 

This is serious business in Italy.

The cheese is placed in plastic moulds for one day to form the wheel

The plastic belt with all the information pertaining to the Consortium production is placed around the cheese

Cheese wheels are then placed in stainless molds for one more day

Unwrapped cheese wheels sit in a saltwater bath for 18 days

Even the farmers who supply the milk for just one wheel of cheese - 550 liters of milk - 145 gallons! - are under the control of the consortium and DOP regulations. 

 

Once the morning tasks are completed, usually around noon, the men go home to rest only to return at 4:30pm to start the next steps in the process.

White wheels show the cheese is fairly young

Cheese wheels are stored on shelves for a mandatory minimum 12 months to age

After all is said and done - from milking the cows, processing, and aging it 12 months and longer, to final inspections - there is the birth of the King.

These wheels have passed the DOP inspection and certification

High grade DOP parmigiano reggiano is mild and tangy, nutty and not too sharp. It should never taste soapy or sour.

"I think He said 'Blessed are the cheesemakers!'" ~ Monty Python's The Life of Brian (1979)

IF YOU GO

 

The Italian Days Food Experience will ruin you for forever for Italy's most iconic foods, but in the best possible way. Alessandro puts his heart and soul into making it much more than a tour. You'll be a Parmigiano cheese convert and a balsamic lover after the day is done. Book your tour online or at the Bologna Welcome infopoint in Piazza Maggiore. 


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Parmigiano Reggiano Food Tour