Another day, another delicious food excursion. The past two days here at UNISG we had the opportunity to study Parmigiano Reggiano in delicious depth, going to not only the production facility, but also specific regulation cow farms, the official Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, a cheese aging warehouse, as well as an international packaging and handling facility.
First of all, I must say that Parmigiano Reggiano is not the same thing as Parmesan ‘cheese’ gratings found in the little green Kraft can. Oh no, real Parmigiano Reggiano is a extremely delicate and well protected product, produced specifially in the towns of Parma, Modena, Reggio Emilia, and small portions of Bologna and Mantova. In fact, there are only 400 licensed producers of the product in all of Italy.
As Parmigiano Cheese buffs like to say, the production of Parmigiano Reggiano starts at the cow. In order for a farm to produce milk for Parmigiano cheese, it must feed it’s cows cereals and hay that is grown only in the region of Emilia Romagna. It is thought that by keeping this production completely localized, it is easier to regulate and maintain its quality standards.
- 2.7 Million wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano are produced per year
- Each wheel weighs around 60 kg (almost 150 lbs)
- An entire wheel costs about 500 Euros
- To produce 1 wheel of cheese about 640 litres (169 gallons) of milk are required
- Minimum aging period: 12 months, though it is usually not sold until 18 months of age.
- Its extremely high in calcium: recommended to women with tendencies for osteoporosis
- Something about the product’s composition makes it extremely beneficial for gastro-intestinal health.
- Was the first cheese in space, given to astronauts to aide in bone/organ strength while in orbit
I don’t want t bore you with facts and figures, so I’ll leave you with some photographs of my experience in the past 2 days. To say the least, I have had enough Parmigiano Reggiano to last a lifetime, though luckily I don’t believe I will ever run out of the product, given that I live here in Parma. ohhhh the difficult life I lead.
And here are a couple of videos of my new best friend Parmigiano Reggiano: