The next day we woke up early and headed to Parma to visit a Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese dairy.
These are the cows whose milk is brought in every morning and evening.
This is where the milk that comes in goes before it drains into the cauldrons.
The milk is then pumped into these copper cauldrons. It takes 550 liters or about 145 gallons of milk to make one wheel of cheese.
They then add whey and an enzyme that cause the milk to coagulate. This process of knowing when it is ready is all done by hand.
They start the "mixer"which breaks down all the granules. After the milk reaches 55 degrees C the cheesy granules start to sink to the bottom and form one large cheesy mass.
After resting for 30 minutes, the men work together to get the hunk of cheese into the cheese cloth. One wheel of cheese weighs almost 86 pounds!
Here the guy is cutting in half.
The cheese in this form tastes like milk and is a little rubbery.
The cheese is placed in these molds which give it its final shape. These plastic cylinders can be tightened. This helps extract the excess whey from the cheese.
This special marking band is put around the cheese which labels it with the month and year of production, the dairy registration number, and inscription of Parmigiano Reggiano.
After a few days of sitting, the cheese is immersed in a water and salt solution. The whey is extracted out and the salt moves in.
And then finally it is placed in long rows in the maturation room. It is on these wooden shelves that the cheese forms a natural crust or what we call the rind.
The wheels of cheese must be brushed and turned over continually during this maturation period. They have these machines which do the job for them.
They are cleaned because they accumulate dust and they also grow this hair-like mold on the outside that has to be brushed off.
Dad found his birthday!
Now on to the cheese tasting. Yum!
So much cheese!
After our cheese tour we had to deal with some mechanical issues with the Saab. Luckily my dad was there and he was able to put the belt back on! Then we were off to Rome!!