Sixteen litres of milk are necessary to produce one kilogram of Parmesan. A single wheel weighs 38 kilograms and thus requires the use of 608 litres of milk. Around three million of these wheels are produced every year, that results in ca. 114.000 tons. However, only 5% of this quantity is exported, the rest is consumed by the Italians themselves.
The production is a very complicated process and can only take place between April 1st and November 11th. The cows may only be fed grass, clovers and hay and the proportion of fresh food must be at least 70%. The cows are therefore not allowed to gaze freely out in the open.
The aroma of Parmigiano Reggiano is decisively dependent on the period of aging, which must be at least 12 months: that is considering a young Parmesan. The normal aging period is between 18 and 24 months, special varieties age for up to four years. The season, in which the milk was obtained, is also important. Those in the know consider autumn Parmesan to be the best. Real Parmesan cheeses have a branded “Parmigiano Reggiano” logo. In addition, the date of production, serial number and producer are stamped on the wheel.
Parmesan is not cut with a knife, but instead broken with a special, almond-shaped Parmesan knife, in this way the special structure remains intact in the individual pieces.
So, what are you waiting for? Come to Italy and sample a tasty slide of Parmesan!