PLACES AND PHASES
of the production
Good hay makes good milk
The production of good milk starts with the good forage that we feed to our cattle: we grow grass and alfalfa in our fields in Val Ceno and Val Pessola and we integrate the diet of our cows with legumes and cereals, in compliance with the strict rules contained in the Product Specification of Parmigiano Reggiano. Each animal is fed according to a specific nutritional program that suits its needs, depending on whether it is young, old, pregnant, or has recently gave birth etc. All the effort that we put into the process of feeding our animals is rewarded by the high quality of our milk.
Happy cows, satisfied breeders
We work in our fields 365 days per year, but we also spend many hours in the barns taking care of our cattle before, during and after the milking sessions. Cleaning operations and inspections are daily activities for us, since healthier cows give better milk. We keep different breeds that give slightly different types of milk: some containing more fats, some richer in casein or other substances. It is precisely these differences that give our cheese its wide, complete range of flavours.
Two milking processes for a unique taste
To make Parmigiano Reggiano, each day we combine the milk obtained from two different milking sessions, respectively performed in the morning and on the previous night, and we mix them into large copper cauldrons (caldere). We only add whey and natural rennet to the milk; then we break the curd into small granules, we cook it and we let it rest until it sinks on the bottom of the cauldron; once ready, we pick it up, split it in two parts and wrap each one of them into a linen cloth. Each part is then placed into a mould, meant to give the cheese its characteristic wheel shape, and provided with a casein plate bearing all the information necessary to ensure the traceability of the cheese. Then, the wheels spend several days immersed in a solution of water and salt. The salt is absorbed slowly, it adds more flavour and helps the preservation process. Once the salting process is complete, we pull the wheels out of the solution, let them drip for a whole day and then move them to the warehouse.
Time, care and knowledge
Maturation is an essential and delicate phase in the production of Parmigiano Reggiano. Every week, the wheels are turned upside down and checked one by one. After six months, we start the first process of selection in order to identify possible flaws as soon as we can. Such flaws are not manufacturing defects; instead, they can be described as signs of the authenticity and natural quality of the product, which can be significantly influenced by the slightest changes in the composition of the milk, the climate or the temperature; experienced cheesemakers can predict and control such variations, but they cannot remove them completely. After a year of maturation, experts from the Consortium come and carry out a careful inspection to determine which wheels are worth to be labelled with the mark “Parmigiano Reggiano”. Only the best wheels will be kept for longer maturing periods that can last even 7 or 8 years! Here at Battistero, we take pride in being quite expert in managing such long ripening times.