Travel Photo Thursday: A Lot of Cheese

Unaged Parmigiano Reggiano

Another week going by means it’s time for another Travel Photo Thursday from Budget Travelers Sandbox. This week I’ve chosen a picture from Tuscany Emilia–Romagna and a tour that we took of a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese factory near Bologna, Italy in May of 2010.

It’s pretty amazing how much cheese they produce and it was great to see the process from start to finish. After getting the right levels of milk fat, they heat the milk and some starter whey up in giant vats and mix in rennet to curdle the milk. They then cut up the curds into tiny chunks using a giant whisk-like device, and once everything is just right they scoop all of the curds into cheesecloth and drop them into round molds.

These packages of curds are then allowed to drain and are then placed in stainless steel forms along with a plastic insert that not only shapes the cheese into the classic Parmigiano Reggiano shape, but marks each cheese with a production date and factory id. Once they are properly formed they are soaked in a brine for a few weeks before they are taken out to age. The amount of aging each wheel gets depends on the rating that it receives from the official cheese testers. Fewer imperfections means that the cheese can age longer without spoiling.

The cheese in the picture above was only recently removed from the brine and has not yet developed the deep golden color you would normally expect. Our guide was careful to point out that the above cheese is not yet considered Parmigiano Reggiano – a cheese does not get that designation until it has been tested and aged appropriately.

To read about our trip to Italy be sure to check out our Trip Log! More will be posted in the days to come.

London and Italy 2010 Posts:

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