Parmesan cheese is an essential in Italy and for Italian food served around the world. But if you think making the cheese is simple, you’re in for real treat when you stop in one of the parmesan cheese factories in Parma, Italy.
The factories offer tours of the cheese making process for free, but if you fail to stay in a location around Parma, you’ll pay with an early wake-up call. This is because the factories open at 8am, and all tours begin at this time. If possible, contact the Amministrazione Provinciale Assessorato al Turismo to reserve a spot on the tour, and you can expect your tour to begin at Caseificio Consorzio Produttori Latte.
The Cheese Process
When you arrive for your tour, you’ll meet with a guide who speaks English and is ready and willing to take you through the factory answering questions along the way. The tour lasts for an hour and takes you through the entire cheese-making process including meeting the Master Cheesemaker. This individual has skills that are so heavily valued by the region’s economy, he’s essentially equivalent to a top financial trader on Wall Street.
After meeting the Master Cheesemaker, you’ll witness first hand the process he and his many apprentices use to take ordinary milk and turn it into extraordinary cheese. Parmesan is an exceptional cheese. It is usually made in large wheels and branded much like a prize steer. The more crumbly the cheese is, the more expensive it is, and excellent parmesan melts when grated.
Along the way on your tour you’ll also learn where the milk comes from that is used to create the cheese and be able to witness the finished product – large wheels of award-winning cheeses created in less than twenty-four hours. As with anything, there is a variety of quality levels associated with the parmesan cheese, and you’ll soon be a cheese master yourself. You’ll learn to spot the difference between a poor cheese and an excellent one.
Finally, at the end of the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to taste a variety of samples along with a bit of delicious Italian wine to wash it down. If you arrive too late in the day for a tour, you’ll still be able to visit the factory for a short spell. Your prize for visiting will be a large wedge of the country’s finest cheese for an absurdly low price.