Adreus is on-line and asks me if I miss Northern Italy. Remembering the quaint towns, sprawling vineyards, historic monuments, wonderful food, our class adventures and misadventures makes me miss the place with nostalgia and an aching heart. It was terrible to hear about the earthquakes that caused devastation to the region last May 2012. Sad news that the the factories of Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano were hit by the quake and that about 22,000 wheels of hard cheese fell in the warehouses. This they say will cause a two year set-back on cheese production and surely drive the price up.
So allow me to be sentimental as I prepare my “cheese making” lecture for my class today. Here are pictures of our trip to the Grana Panano factory (before the earthquake) as I explain the cheese making process:
1.Raw milk is pasteurized in large copper vats – high temperature in very short time to kill bacteria in milk
2.Milk undergoes standardization and filtration – to standarize fat content. More fat the creamier and softer the cheese.
3.Acidification– using rennet (stomach lining of a cow) or a starter culture, process changes the acidity level of milk
4. Coagulation or curdling of milk – caused by a starter like rennet is added. Or an acid ( lemon or vinegar) or an organism that produces lactic acid causing milk to curd or solidify
5. Separating the curds and whey – separating the solid (curds) from the liquid (whey). Curds are cut into different sizes depending on the producer to determine texture of cheese granules and to release liquid. More liquid means softer cheese.
6. Shaping – placed in cheesecloth, bags, baskets, molds and leaves
Placed on racks or hung to drain excess liquid.
7. Salting – adds flavor, controls spoilage, and affects the texture of the cheese during the aging process (tends to dry cheese). Picture below cheeses are dipped in a salt brine:
8.Ripening –aging process. Longer aging means more mature and sharper taste.
My heart stopped beating and I wanted to faint when they opened the doors to the warehouse of thousands of aging cheeses. I must have died and went to cheese heaven!
I miss my multi-cultural classmates: