In the region where Parmigiano-Reggiano is made, there are over 10,000 dairies, and 600 cheese producers (caseificio). The region includes the counties of Reggio-Emilia, Parma, Modena, Bologna (west of the Reno river), and Mantua (east of the Po river).
There are two milkings a day. The evening milk is poured into large flat tanks and separates naturally. Then some of the cream is skimmed off and mixed with the morning's "whole" milk. Whey is added and the mixture is heated and stirred. When at the proper temperature, rennet is added, and coagulation begins. The cheese curd is whisked, and heated again and sits until it settles. The men use a large wooden paddle to raise it from the bottom, cut it in half, and wrap it in cheesecloth before putting it in large mold. It is stamped with the date and name of caseificio. The cheese rests a few days, then brined in salty water for 20 days. Finally the cheese is aged for an average of 24 months and becomes "Parmigiano-Reggiano"!
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