The cheese is grainy, breaks down into flakes and has very small, barely visible holes.
Denomination applies after 12 months' maturing, while complete ripening is reached after 2 years.
Milk is transformed into Parmigiano Reggiano through a craft technology based on empirical experience and age-old traditions.
High quality milk (as to chemical,microbiological and hygienic standards) is collected and delivered to the dairy twice a day after the morning and evening milking.
This is possible only if the dairy and the supplying farms are within a reasonably short distance. The evening milk is put in shallow trays kept in storage areas that maintain ideal conservation characteristics: this way most of the cream separates naturally. The next morning the skimmed milk is carefully separated from the cream and mixed together with the morning milk in traditional cone-shaped copper cauldrons.
The starter that is then added comes rom the souring of the preceding day's whey. These natural raw cultures are indipensable for the souring process that occurs intensely and quickly during the first hours of processing.
The next phase, clotting, is achieved by adding calf rennet.
Then the clotted mass is broken down into grains with a characteristic wooden tool, drained and cooked, so as to obtain a compact and relatively homogenous springy mass… which is then taken out of the vats and pressed in moulds. After two or three days' cooling, the wheels are salted in brine for about 20 to 25 days. Lastly, the maturing process, for up to two years, guarantees the taste and structure which are typical of Parmigiano Reggiano.