Cracking the Wheel

Earlier this afternoon, thanks to Farro Fresh, I had the opportunity to have a one-on-one chat with cheesemonger Calum Hodgson and to crack the wheel of a 38kg Parmigiano Reggiano.  Calum is the resident cheesemonger at Sabato, supplier of Parmigiano Reggiano to Farro Fresh and works alongside Farro Fresh to educate their team and customers on the production, origins and tastes of artisan cheeses.

  Certification mark – Parmigiano Reggiano Consorzio Tutela and year of production. 3276 identifies the producer

Certification mark – Parmigiano Reggiano Consorzio Tutela and year of production. 3276 identifies the producer

Deciding to leave the cracking of the wheel to the expert, I watched the skillful and precise process from: scoring the thick outer, to the insertion of a fat wide knife into the centre and the gentle prising along a natural fissure in the cheese to ensure minimal wastage in the process – first in half, then into quarters and finally into wedges.  The aim that every wedge support itself to sit upright on the plate for presentation. 

  Scoring outer of Parmigiano Reggiano wheel 

Scoring outer of Parmigiano Reggiano wheel 

  Inserting wide flat knife into centre to commence cracking down scored line

Inserting wide flat knife into centre to commence cracking down scored line

Fast Facts about Parmigiano Reggiano*

  • 16 litres of milk make 1 kg of Parmigiano Reggiano
  • It takes approximately 550 litres to make one wheel 
  • The optimal weight for a wheel is 41 kg
  • Milk is used straight from the cows without additives or treatment of any kind
  • Parmigiano Reggiano is made by hand
  • Each wheel of cheese has its own marks of origin
  • Parmigiano Reggiano can be aged for 24 months or more
  • A certification mark is applied to the wheels that pass inspection

*Source: Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano 2011

 Calum and the Parmigiano Reggiano pyramid

Calum and the Parmigiano Reggiano pyramid

That first smell and taste of pineapple still lingers on my mind, a sweetness not anticipated. Time to grab a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano with a few drops of balsamic vinegar and a glass of wine. Somehow I can't see myself ever buying pre-packaged so-called Parmigiano Reggiano ever again!

Enjoy your weekend.

Michelle