How to Make Parmesan Cheese Italian Hard Cheese at Home

Well good day curd nerds. Today, we're going to be making Parmesan Well Parmesan or better known as Parmigiano-Reggiano is from the Lombardi area in Italy and It is a very well known cheese, well known all the way, all the w- (stutter) all around the world for its piquant flavor. And it is just amazing when shaved and when grated It is a common ingredient in a lot of pasta dishes sprinkled over the top Or in other dishes as well. Essential ingredient in basil pesto as well. A delicious cheese, so let's see how we make it shall we? So initially I had an issue trying to get 2% fat milk, so what I had to do was use a combination of milk, so this is a 1.3 percent fat milk, it's a light milk, so I used 10 liters of that and I also used 4 liters of full cream milk which is about 3.3 percent. So they gave me a grand total of 14 liters of milk, which is 14 quarts at 2% fat. I used 3/8 of a teaspoon of thermophilic culture an 1/8 of a teaspoon of lipase, 3/4 of a teaspoon of calcium chloride 3/4 of a teaspoon of liquid rennet, and I was using iron Cu 200 rennet, and 18% saturated brine solution. So once the pot is full we're going to bring that up to heat now, and the target temperature is 33 degrees Celsius or 91.4 Fahrenheit. So I'm just making sure that's evenly heated all the way through before I go to the next step. So I'm going adding the thermophilic culture So I used 3/8 of a teaspoon, so I'm using an 1/8 of a teaspoon there. Just sprinkling it over the top of the, uh- 2% fat milk. Now Parmesan is very special in that you do use a lower fat percentage of milk to get the flavor that you're after, after a very long period of time for ripening. Now we just let this starter culture sit on the top for about five minutes, just allowing it to rehydrate. Pop the lid on so no dust or hair gets into your cheese, and then five minutes later give that a good stir, top and bottom just making sure that there's nothing in there. Giving it a good mix all the way through so the starter culture can start converting the lactose in the milk into lactic acid. Pop the lid back on and we're gonna ripen the milk now for 45 minutes. So 45 minutes later you can start to add one of the essential ingredients to making parmesan a piquant flavor. Just checked the temperature first. Yes, we're at, uh, close enough to 33 degrees Celsius, which was 91.4 Fahrenheit. Make sure you check your temperatures regularly. Now we're going to add the lipase. Lipase is a pre-gastric enzyme that creates the piquant flavor in Parmesan if you're not using raw milk. Now because I'm using pasteurized and homogenized I've had to add in lipase to this recipe. Okay, I gave that a good stir through. Now we're gonna cover again and let that ripen again for 15 minutes. Okay 15 minutes later, and we're gonna add in the rest of the ingredients now. Before I do, I'm gonna give it a quick stir So, there we go- so make sure the milk is moving and then we're gonna add in the diluted calcium chloride. It was diluted with a quarter of a cup of non-chlorinated water. The reason we're using non-chlorinated water is because it does inhibit the renneting action, when we add the rennet in, in the next step. So just a non-chlorinated water, that can be filtered water or pure water, just make sure it doesn't have any chlorine in it. We're adding the rennet now. That's diluted rennet as well. And we give it a stir for no more than one minute Reason we don't over stir this is because the rennet is actually starting to work right now. Don't want to break up the protein structure of the milk. Now one additional step - you can see that the milk is moving a little bit too fast here so I'm gonna slow that down and try and stop it, before we put the lid on and allow it to set. There we go, I've stopped most of the movement. This helps the rennet set a lot better as well. Okay, then we cover and we're gonna lay out the milk to coagulate now into its component curds and whey, for 45 minutes. So 45 minutes later we're gonna check for a clean break. We can do that with our pinky. Now, have a look at the break there. It's a little bit sloppy. It's not as defined as it should be, it didn't have a clear line down the middle. So what we're gonna do there is we're gonna allow it to coagulate a little bit more for another 10 minutes. So I normally do this if I find that the break is a bit sloppy Okay, so ten minutes later. We're just gonna check it again. Now that's splitting very well now, just a little bit shouldn't be on there, but that's a lot better than what it did the first time. So what we're going to do now is we're going to cut the curds. Now Parmesan's a funny beast, the curd size needs to be very small to start with. So we're going to cut it into lentil sized pieces. Now I found that the best way to do that is to use a balloon whisk, and simply, um, lift it up and down, as you can see there. And we're basically cutting the curds quite small to start with. So you've gotta go around many many times to make sure that it is cut correctly and there's no large pieces. You don't want any uneven pieces of curd for this recipe because they will hold more way than what the smaller pieces do and that'll affect the final texture of your Parmesan. Now I've left the entire process in for this video because I think it's very important for you to see that I am actually cutting larger pieces of curd as they come to the surface while I start to stir it. There's no healing time for the curds, the amount of time we had for ripening and renneting certainly allowed those curds to have a very firm structure as well as the addition of the calcium chloride which adds back soluble calcium that the, uh, the rennet can act upon. So we're going to heat this up now, and we're gonna start stirring for quite a long time. We're just checking the temperature first, There's some issues with my thermapen there. Anyway there we go. She's on. So over the course of the ripening and the renneting it has cooled down by 2 degrees Which is okay, that's no hassle. We have to heat it up now anyway, to shrink the curds even further. So I'm gonna start stirring and over the course of an hour we're gonna slowly heat it up to 51 Celsius, Which is 124 Fahrenheit. So that's over the period of one hour, and you do have to stir continuously. You have big muscles after this one. So sit back, play some music and enjoy the stirring or, um, break out a glass of wine if you so desire. Certainly helps with a stirring process. Okay, this is at the 31ish minute mark, you can see that a lot more whey has been expelled, and that the curds are a lot smaller. We'll just uh, you should see that in a second, there we go. So those shrunk considerably from the lentil size pieces that they were originally. So an hour later, we're at nearly 51. That was close enough as far as I was concerned. I didn't really want to go over temperature. And you'll see that the curd size now is about the size of a rice grain. It has shrunk considerably. Now just gonna do a quick test to make sure it's ready for pressing. So you clump a handful of curds together if they form a ball, and then you can just press them apart with your thumb, then they're ready to press. Great little test before you do start pressing. Okay, so that's all the stirring, all the heating we need to do, the heat is now off. And we're going to put the lid back on. I'm going to allow the curds to- alright, final temperature check, okay, close enough to 51 for my liking. Okay, we're gonna allow the curds now to sink to the bottom and settle for 5 minutes. So take your big pot over to the sink area and we're gonna drain that through a cheesecloth-lined basket, now the basket I'm using is the largest one I have which is 165 millimeters across, which at the same as 6.5 inches. So just pour that through. So that does two purposes, that heats up the basket, just warms it a bit so cold curds don't hit it. I've also sprayed the, uh, cheesecloth with a very fine mist of white vinegar. Now this helps avoid the Parmesan from sticking to the cheesecloth because it's very hot at this stage, still, you know, 51 odd degrees Celsius, which is quite high. It has a tendency to stick to the cheesecloth when you press it so, a little spritz of vinegar- white vinegar, helps it come away cleanly. Just adjusts the pH level, and you don't have any stickiness, so there's a tip. Okay. So now I'm just pressing that down, so it all fills the mold evenly, and then I'm gonna fold the cheesecloth over the top of the basket. Just squeezing a bit of whey out there. And then we're gonna top with the follower. Never put the follower directly onto the cheese because that may stick to the follower as well. This gives it a nice even surface. See I'm pulling out the cheesecloth a little bit there to make sure that there's no folds. Popping it into the cheese press now, and we're gonna press this at about a medium pressure, just initially to make it form into the the shape that we're after. So just make sure when you're pressing that the whey runs clear, and not cloudy. So initial pressing is 11 kilograms or 24 pounds for 30 minutes. Just on that whey: if it is cloudy when it's coming out then you're over pressing it, because it's releasing too much of the proteins that you need in the cheese for the flavor to develop. So make sure it's fairly clear as you press it. So, 30 minutes later. We're going to take it out of the press now. Lifting the follower out there and just releasing it from the mold now, very gently. We're going to be pulling the cheesecloth away. So this is still quite warm in the mold so I'm releasing it carefully. It did stick just a little bit just there, you can see, that the the cheese- a little bit of the surface of the cheese pulled away, so all good, all the rest of it came off okay. That little spritz of vinegar helped. So we're just carefully pulling away the bottom, no tears there at all, which is really good. So we're just gonna flip that over now. And just redress it and repress it at 22 kilograms or 50 pounds for 12 hours. This is to help consolidate the curds, make sure they're evenly pressed all the way through, and that you'll have no mechanical holes in your cheese when it's finished. So I'm using a 50 pound spring so when it's all closed up I know I'm at the the right weight or the right pressing weight. Now because I am using a spring I did have to go on check and re-close it up again as the cheese began to knit together- all the curds began to knit together. Okay, the next day for me. Now we get to brine the cheese, so I'm using an 18% saturated brine there. We're gonna remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and press (laughs) Sorry, remove the cheese from the press and the cheesecloth. So you don't have to be as careful as before. You will find that the cloth doesn't stick as much, in fact it didn't stick it all in this instance for me. And it is a very heavy cheese, it is, uh, very compact, so. There was no ridges or anything like that so, felt really good. So we're gonna pop it into the brine now for 18 hours, and we're gonna turn at the halfway mark at 9 hours. Now my brine bucket there was rather full. You don't have to brine in one of these containers, you can use a stainless steel pot and pop it in there, just make sure that if it keeps floating to the top just sprinkle a surface of cheese salt over the top of the- of the cheese, that's floating and then when you flip it over do the same thing again. Okay so it sits there in the brine and uh, I put it back in the cheese cave so it was at 13 degrees Celsius. Okay, so once it's finished brining you take it out of the of the brining tub and put it on, just a draining mat and a board and that's going to air dry now at room temperature for 2-3 days or until touch dry. Now it did take two days for mine to air dry. Until I was happy it was air dry. There we got a nice looking cheese, very compact, as all good Parmesan should be. So just to keep the beasties off it I've got this lovely little umbrella thing that I pop over the top so Nothing can get onto to my cheese. Certainly don't want a kazoo marzu. Alrighty so once it's touch dry I'm basically going to mature this for 6-12 months at 10-12 degrees Celsius. And we're going to turn that weekly now. That's at, uh, 82... Sorry, 85 to 90 percent relative humidity. So in the first week turn daily. So as you can see fairly easy process. It's the stirring for an hour that gets your arm I tell you what. I've got some muscles now. But uh, we're going to put this into a ripening box and we're going to mature it for between 6 to 12 months. The cheese is small, probably six months, the flavor will be there. I have matured Parmesan up to 18 months, and it has turned out amazing a little bit dry though. We're gonna try and ripen it naturally, so a natural rind for at least the first 3 months keeping it nice and clean, and then I may have to vacuum pack it to keep the moisture in, it's a fairly small cheese unlike the Parmesans that's made in Italy which are about 60-70 kilograms which is very heavy. We're going to keep it at a temperature of between 10 and 12 degrees Celsius. And we're going to do that at between 85 and 90 percent humidity in the ripening box for those 3 months After that, vac packing doesn't matter what the humidity of your cheese fridge will be. At a pinch you could wax it, however I find when you wax cheeses for a long time they tend to get a mold growth under them, so that's why I'm going to prefer to vac pack it once it's got a natural rind. Anyway, don't forget that you could buy the kit for this, we have an Italian cheese kit, and you can buy that in our store. 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