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Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is enjoyed the world over. Its distinctive flavour and versatility means that it can enhance the flavour of almost any dish and is the perfect addition to any cheese board. At Kendalls we only sell genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano, never the cheaper but inferior ‘look-a-like’, but not ‘taste-a-like’ products.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is produced within a restricted area that includes Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna (on the western bank of Reno River) and Mantova (on the eastern bank of the Po River). It is a hard, fat granular cheese, cooked rather than pressed, named after the restricted area of production. The cheese is handmade by craftsmen using traditional methods handed down for more than eight centuries.

More than curds and whey…

Ingredients and method of production
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is made from raw cow's milk, collected immediately after milking and partly skimmed by gravity. 600 litres of milk, from two milkings (evening and the following morning batches), is needed to make a single wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, weighing on average a very heavy 38kg.

At this stage, the “starter” or fermenting-whey is added. This whey is a residue of the preceding batch in which the lactic flora has developed by fermentation. The milk is slowly heated (33°C) and stirred. Rennet is added to the milk.

The curd is turned over and broken up into small fragments with a sharp-edged tool known as the “spino” (thorn-bush). The temperature is raised to 55°C before being put in a circular wooden mould (fascera) and pressed.
The cheese is frequently turned, and left for a few days until "set". This characteristic form is a very squat cylinder with slightly convex sides, almost barrel shaped.

Only natural whey culture is permitted as a starter, together with calf rennet. The only additive permitted is salt making Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese an all-natural product.

It takes time
The cheese is then placed in salt water for 20-25 days and is taken into the "cascina", for maturing. It then undergoes a long process of ageing (the minimum legal requirement is 12 months, but Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese releases its best aroma and fragrance after 24 months). The rooms used for maturing it can accommodate 270 thousand wheels! They are usually located in the vicinity of the major commercial centres of the production zone. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Parma, don’t miss this ‘Bank of Cheese’ – it is quite an experience!

The tapping with a hammer test
The Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is quality checked by professional cheese testers. The cheese is tapped with a hammer at various points to test the way the crust takes the blows. The cheese is then ranked. After a year, the cheese that have passed the strict regulations are permitted to be branded. The words "Parmigiano Reggiano" are impressed repeatedly at close intervals along the side of the cheese.

So, next time you buy some of this superb cheese from us – look for the distinctive marks on the rind.

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