Top 5 Reasons To Buy Organic Parmigiano Reggiano Over Any Other Cheese: We spoke to our friend and Organic Parmesan Farmer Filippo Peveri To Find Out!
There’s no denying it that cheese is the ultimate crowd pleaser. From shitty, cheap, melted cheese to the finest aged wheels of perfection, it’s hard to argue with the statement that almost all cheese is just so good.
However, here at The Outsiders we are absolute flavour nerds, the devil is in the detail for us and without fail we have to say our favourite cheese has to be Parmesan (Parmigiano)…. Parmesan in our eyes is the king of all cheeses, and Reggiano is the classification that simply rules the empire. It is a protected class of cheese made under very strict traditions and procedures called D.O.P ( Denominazione d’Origine Protetta or Protected Designation of Orgin in English) which essentially means that the EU has imposed strict rules and regulations in relation to the recipe for cheese production, maturation process, quality of ingredients and location of production. The Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P stamp is the crown of jewels which tells us all that this cheese passed the test and was made to the highest, strictest quality.
You’ll notice that Reggiano comes at a slightly higher costs than most cheeses but please don’t let this deter you!
This cheese has age, soul and attitude. It is transformative with fruits like apples, pears and figs, it adds a salty zing to pizzas and pastas, garnishes soups nicely and all in all its just bloody delicious on its own with some seriously rich Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Organic Rapeseed Oil.
Still unsure? We spoke to our favourite Italian and favourite parmesan maker Filippo Peveri from CiaoLatte Organic Farm in Borghetto, Parma to answer a few of our questions…
Filippo is 20 years old, has studied agricultural science, he works in his small organic family- run parmesan business, he milks 150 cows every day, brews the best home brews we’ve ever tasted, and once took 3 hours to make us a pizza because it had to be “bellissimo”
The Outsiders: “So Filippo, we’ve had a long love for Parmigiano- Reggiano! Some of our finest memories are of sitting at your dinner table in Borghetto with your whole family eating pane, drinking Barnoglino and munching endlessy on CiaoLatte’s Parmigiano Reggiano deep into the evening.
Can you tell us why you think Parmigiano Reggiano is one of the finest cheeses in the world?
It’s Unique Qualities & DOP Guidlines : I think the Parmigiano Reggiano is the best hard cheese in the world, perhaps because I was born and raised in the middle of the cheese storehouse, gazing up at these wonderous golden shapes towering high over my head, so I’m partially biased but yet, have a deep love and understanding for what makes this cheese so wonderful.
I’m sure it’s the unique quality of this product that makes it world famous. It amazingly does not contain any preservatives , additives and bacteria static: this last term means we avoid the use of any fermented food and silage.
Parmigiano Reggiano is made using only milk curd, salt and time … nothing else!
This whole process is guaranteed and controlled by the consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano(D.O.P) and our national organic certification body. The consortium’s purpose is to protect and control the cheese production within a small regional area that is distributed through 5 provences which are bound by the Po river and the Tuscan Emilian Apennines.
The Unique Terrain of Parma: Now, this is vital because the territory and region plays the most important role for this cheese. The climatic conditions here are ideal for production of high quality Parmigiano- Reggiano, ranging from the hot sultry summer where the cheese sweats hard under the 30 something degrees and then a wet winter. In our warehouse we check the temperature and humidity daily to ensure a consistently controlled environment, but thanks to large windows in the storehouse that open out, the cheese is susseptable to mature daily with the changing elements of the seasons. Another very important detail which contributes greatly to the cheese is alfalfa (a sprouted green/ grass that is rich in protein), which is grown only in Northern Italy. This is fed to the cows and produces a high quality bacteria in the milk which majorly helps the cheese maturation and contributes to an amazingly beautiful end product.
Maturation of the Cheese: In our storehouse we mostly age our cheese for up to 3 years, but usually for special occasions we have a batch which could be aged for up to six years.
The longer the ageing of the cheese, the more digestable it becomes. With the ageing nutrients you are increasing and enhancing the taste and texture of the cheese. The presence of ageing enzymes modify the casein and make it easy to digest, this is also a main contributor as to how really aged Parmigiano- Reggiano can be sometimes suitable for people intolerant to cow’s milk protein. It is also characterized as a food lactose containing only 30% water and as much as 70% nutrients, which is why this cheese is rich in protein, vitamins, calcium and minerals. Parmigiano Reggiano is a really popular cheese here in Italy for these reasons, we even give it to babies and elderly people.
The Compex Process To Make The Cheese: Every day I passionately milk 150 cows, when I finish this process the milk is immediately transported to the dairy. We maintain the milk at the maximum temperature of 18 degrees to prevent defacing the flora of lactic acid bacteria.
We then store the milk in large tubs leaving it rest all night.
In the morning, my brother Dario, a skilled dairyman will mix the evening milk in copper cauldrons with the cool milk of the morning, he then adds the rennet (an enzyme used to split the milk into liquid and solid ) he then awaits the formation of the curd .
When the curd eventually forms Dario then breaks it and cuts it gently with an ancient tool unique to Parma, he then proceeds with cooking the curd.
From every cauldron two wheels of Parmesan cheese are formed using over 1100 liters of milk. During the first day of production the early cheese form is embraced by a linen cloth and is turned 4 times in the first day, in the second day it is turned twice, the third day the wheel of cheese is then immersed for 21 days in a saturated solution of salt and water (brine), by osmosis the salt penetrates inside and the water comes out, this allows the natural conservation of the cheese. At this stage the early form of the cheese is laid in our maturing warehouse where it will rest for at least a year until it is then inspected by the consortium. The consortium ensures the cheese meets the strict quality requirements and when we pass the test we then receive the famous branding stamp on the outside of the cheese.
Only then you can you sell it as organic Parmigiano- Reggiano
The Organic Classification : We work immensely hard every day and at the height of Summer you will find us working up to 15 hours a day. All of this hard work is to ensure we have a healthy, high quality, consistantly delicious food product which we can guarantee to our loyal customers.
The reason we choose to work so incredibly hard is because we choose to farm organically. We are motivated and passionate about farming in the way of the natural choice. This entails farming naturally without the use of pesticides or synthetic products in the crops as well as no livestock antibiotics in the animals. Parmesan goes into your blood stream in 90 minutes, and for this reason we beleive that no animal antibiotics should be present in the cheese. Farming organically can be incredibly challenging at times, but we consider it most rewarding. Most farmers in the region will farm conventionally, yielding as much milk from the cow as possible, taking more care for quantity rather than for the care of their animals, the environment and the product they are making. The uniquness of our product here in Ciaolatte represents generations of love and care for the animals and our product, which is slowly produced in tandem with nature and in the most traditional way. I am taking up the responsibility from my father and grandmother for all these beautiful animals and for the future of our family in organic food. Everything we do is in connection with the natural course of the seasons, the environmental characters of the province, and the bio-diversity of the land. Of course this comes with daily difficulties but we do it with the knowledge and the satisfaction of producing a uniquely beautiful, high quality cheese.
Follow Ciaolatte on Facebook to see the day to day happenings on the farm: https://www.facebook.com/www.ciaolatte.it?fref=ts