Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (2022)

  • Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (1)

    Clean & Sanitize

    Take extra care to inssure everything is well clean and sanitized for this cheese, due to its long aging time.

    I find the easiest and most thorough method is to begin the day with my milk pot and about 2-3 inches of water on the stove, boiling anything that is durable at those temperatures. Let this all boil for 10-15 minutes. I then take all of my tools and lay them on a sanitized surface ready for use. Make sure the molds, colander, and draining cloth are also sanitized and ready to go because following the whey removal, the curd must move quickly to the mold for pressing.

    Also, because the curd cooking is done very quickly after cutting, another large pot of water should be kept on the stove just off the boil to add to the water bath in the curd cook/scald step found in the instructions below.

  • Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (2)

    Selecting Milk

    Because much of the milk available in stores is processed at higher temperatures, I have made this recipe with 3 gallons of 2% pasteurized milk from Garelich Farms. This is a higher temperature pasteurized milk (176 degrees for 15 seconds). Some find these milks problematic, but adjustments to the amount and set time for rennet have been made in this recipe to compensate for this type of milk.

    If using a better quality, raw milk, decrease the rennet by 25-30% and the coagulation time listed below by 40-50%.

    I am using 3 gallons here because a larger cheese has a better surface to mass ratio for aging. A smaller cheese will dry out with a much greater percentage of rind to cheese.

  • Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (3)

    Heat & Ripen Milk

    Begin by adding the calcium chloride and heat the milk slowly to 91-93F. Using a milk pot in a water bath is the best way to do this but if careful in heating it can be done directly on the stove top. I use 2 thermometers to monitor bath and milk temperatures and keep a 10-20F differential between the 2 until I approach the target temperature for the milk. (Yes, those thermometers are pricey$ but it was a great deal on Ebay). The thermometers on Ricki's site do the same job at about 1/10th the cost, these big dials are just easier for these old eyes here and they show up better in the photos I do.

    When the milk is at temperature, add the culture. Add 1 pack of C201 Thermophilic. This should be stirred into the milk thoroughly and then held at 93F for about 30 minutes.

  • Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (4)

    Coagulate with Rennet

    After the 30 minute ripening, give the milk its final stir before adding rennet. Allow it to go quiet and add the 1 tsp of rennet, stirring in an up and down motion for 30 seconds.

    (Video) How to Make Parmesan Cheese (Italian Hard Cheese) at Home

    At about 8-10 minutes you will notice the milk beginning to thicken, but for this milk it needs to sit quiet for another 20-25 minutes until the curd becomes much firmer. This is a total coagulation time of 30-35 minutes from rennet addition to a final curd ready for cutting.

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    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (8)

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    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (11)

    Cut & Cook Curds

    Cut the curds to about 3/8 to 1/4 inch. I find that a coarse 1" cross cut with a knife breaks up the curd mass nicely and then using a long handled whisk with fine wires produces good results in reducing the curds to size. Begin slowly with the whisk in a top to bottom manner and then speed up as the curd becomes smaller. Take about 10 minutes for this.

    The curds should be cut and stirred for another 10 minutes. Then the water bath should be heated to 120F by adding enough of the boiling water for a quick scald to 110F over 10 minutes.

    When curd is at 110F add enough boiling water to increase the bath to 145F and allow the curds to reach 131-133F during the next 10 minutes.

    This should be a total of 20 minutes from 93F to 130F+

    The curds will quickly cook down to a smaller rice or barley grain size. They will also easily consolidate into a nice curd mass

  • Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (12)

    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (13)

    (Video) Homemade Parmesan Cheese at Deep South Texas

    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (14)

    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (15)

    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (16)

    Mold Curds

    Immediatly after achieving the final heat and curd texture, transfer curds to a cloth lined colander. Form the cloth and curds into a ball to help with the consolidation.

    The mold should already be sanitized and placed into its draining area. Now transfer the consolidated curd mass in the cloth to the prepared mold.

    At this point, the curd should have formed a nice smooth surfaced mass. Press firmly with hand pressure into the mold but do not break the curd mass.

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    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (19)

    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (20)

    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (21)


    Begin pressing with the follower in place. Initial pressure will be just enough to keep a thin trickle of whey running from the curd mass (10-12 lbs). As whey runoff slows, increase weight to 25 lbs.

    The curd should be removed from the press, turned, and re-dressed (smooth out wrinkles) in the cloth at 10-15 minute intervals for the first 1 hour.

    At this point the culture will not be active due to the high temperature so keep the cheese warm (80-85F) since the culture is still working and acid is being produced.

    As the curd mass cools from 112 to 80F it is at this cooling temperature that the culture bacteria will produce the final acid development.

    Press for 4 hours then no weight and hold overnight in mold with no cloth (temperature should be held at 75-80F).

    (Video) How to make Parmesan Cheese

    The cheese can be removed from the mold the following morning but keep it from drying out. I find a small plastic box with cover works well for this. The cheese will now be held for 2 days as the culture finishes working before the final salting in brine.

    Final yield is about 2.5 lbs from the 3 gallons of milk. The lower yield is due to the high scald temperatures and degree of cooking which results in less moisture. This is also why the cheese is capable of longer aging and more flavor.

  • Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (22)

    Parmesan Style Cheese Making Recipe (23)


    You will need a saturated brine prepared for salting this cheese. A simple brine formula is:

    • 1 gallon of water
    • 2.25 lbs of salt
    • 1 Tbs calcium chloride
    • 1 tsp white vinegar
    • Bring the brine and cheese to 50-55°F before using.

    The cheese should placed in the brine solution for about 4 hours per pound of cheese.

    Since the top surface will be above the brine and not receive any salt sprinkle, give it a good teaspoon of salt over the surface of the cheese at the beginning of the brining and again at the midway point in brining.

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    The cheese is now ready to dry off for a day or two and then can be aged at 80-85% moisture and 52-58F.

    Mold should be brushed or rubbed down with a medium stiff brush or coarse cloth as it develops.

    After about 1-2 weeks the rind should harden somewhat and the mold will not grow as readily. A light coat of oil will also discourage mold growth and make the mold easier to remove.

    This cheese will be somewhat earlier in ripening and should show good character at about 12-14 months.

Cheese Making Help From Italy

I have had very good luck getting friends in Italy to connect me with the finest cheese makers, I find they are great with sharing once they know how serious I am about the process and details. Indeed, they insist that I see all aspects of the process and make sure that I understand the concepts. Everything from the rennet and culture aspects to the final finished curd decisions and aging dynamics.

This session will be in two parts because I would like to address a simple Parma style cheese for the home cheese maker made from a common store bought milk and with tools that should easily be found in your kitchen.

In part two, I would like to extend this and show a real Parma style cheese as I see it prepared vat-side made from the freshest of milk in Italy and how someone with a bit of cheese making experience can craft this from a good local milk source.

(Video) Making Parmesan Cheese Part 1 of 2

Variations in Style

In this session we explore one of the most ancient and unique cheeses of all times. In the US, our respect for this cheese has been tainted by that little green box that was always on the table with pasta throughout our youth. Where this came from and why is probably lost in industrial food history in America.

The real deal is from the north of Italy represented by the following 2 regions:

Parmigiano-Reggiano | Which is legally designated in Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna all south of the Po River in Emilia-Romagna as well as in the Mantova area in Lombardia north of the Po River.

Parmigiano referring to the city of Parma and Reggiano of course references Reggio Emilia.

Grana Padano | This is quite similar to the Parmigiano-Reggiano It is produced mainly in the Lombardia area north of the Po River. This cheese has somewhat less stringent requirements. The cheese contains less fat, the cows may be fed silage, it is aged less time, and the milk can be several days old.

Parmesan | In addition the name, Parmesan is used for the many cheeses imitating Parmigiano-Reggiano such as those sold in the US.

"Grana" or grain is a term often associated with this cheese historically perhaps due to the characteristic grain structure of the aged cheese. The cheese is most often opened, not with a sharp knife, but with a series of knives which splits the cheese along the grain structure.

What Makes Parmigiano-Reggiano a Unique Cheese

The freshness of the milk | For the real Parma style, the milk comes in the late afternoon, rests overnight for the cream to rise, theskimmed milk is run into the vats the next morning and then the full fat mornings milk is added to the vat. For Grana Padano the milk is not required to be this fresh and is made twice a day with a leaner milk.

The natural Flora for converting the lactose | The culture for ripening this cheese comes directly from the milk. It is still very common to see the whey from previous day batches used for the fresh milk. Even though the EU regulators are concerned about this they are not finding any problem with it so far. This whey is however under close testing. I am sure that it works because it has been done for so long that the cultures have been well isolated on the farm and are very competitive in nature.

The texture | Because of the very small cut of the curds and the rate at which they are cooked along with the curd mass consolidation taking place in the vat, the final cheese has a very granular texture. This is where the name Grana comes into the picture.

The long aging | True Parma is usually aged for a full 2 years before it is released and it is not uncommon to be aged for a lot longer than this. I have been offered 8-10 year old Parma but my preference is in the 3-4 year old cheese. The long aging is due in part to the small curd cut and high cook temperatuer as well as the extended salt brining.

This is definitely the cheese that travels and keeps well and is very similar to what the Roman Legions would have marched on.

(Video) Parmesan cheese made at home

Note: Another interesting point here is that "Grana" the same term used for this cheese is also a common term for "Money" in the Italian vernacular. This makes more sense when you see the aging rooms, usually with several thousand of these 85-90 pound cheeses stacked floor to ceiling and you find out that the banks are heavily involved in this business where cheese is considered "Real Equity." Yes, there have been several major multimillion dollar "Cheese Heists".


What is parmesan style cheese? ›

Parmesan cheese is the name of an Italian extra-hard cheese made of raw cow's milk. The original Parmesan cheese is more precisely called Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is produced only in Italy, in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantua (partly) and Bologna (partly).

How do they make parmesan cheese? ›

How Parmesan Cheese Is Made - YouTube

What kind of milk is used to make parmesan cheese? ›

Parmesan-type cheese is made from pasteurized and clarified skim milk that is based on gravity separation. For traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano, raw milk is used. The milk is placed in shallow vats to stand overnight whereby natural creaming occurs.

Can you make parmesan cheese with goat milk? ›

This is why I decided to make this homemade parmesan cheese recipe using fresh goat milk from my own goats. Of course you can use any type of milk you wish such as cow or sheep milk.

Is Italian style cheese the same as Parmesan? ›

While we often use the name “parmesan” to refer to all of Italy's grateable hard cheeses, there are a number of different styles within the category. Parmesan is one of them, though that particular cheese isn't necessarily as closely linked to Italy as you might imagine.

What makes Parmesan cheese different? ›

Though often categorized as a hard grating cheese, Parmesan is actually semi-hard, with a texture just slightly firmer than that of aged cheddar. The body of the cheese is rich and creamy, studded with crunchy granules of calcium lactate that give it a unique, almost effervescent texture.

What's the difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano? ›

For a cheese to be classified as Parmigiano-Reggiano, it must come from particular regions of Italy and contain only certain approved ingredients. Parmigiano-Reggiano is also aged at least one year and up to three years. Parmesan, on the other hand, is not regulated, and may be aged as little as 10 months.

Is Parmesan cheese made with milk? ›

I noted in my last column that by law, Parmigiano-Reggiano is allowed to contain only three very simple ingredients: milk (produced in the Parma/Reggio region and less than 20 hours from cow to cheese), salt, and rennet (a natural enzyme from calf intestine).

Is Parmesan cheese real cheese? ›

Parmesan, which is the English translation for Parmigiano Reggiano, is a hard cheese with a granular texture made from skimmed or partially skimmed cow's milk. Authentic Parmigiano Reggiano comes from the Italian regions of Bologna, Mantua, Modena or Parma.

Is raw milk better for cheese making? ›

We feel raw milk is best when used for cheese making within about 2-3 days. After this time the protein changes can begin to show a weaker curd development. Raw milk naturally has its own collection of bacteria and enzymes that begin working as soon as conditions are right.

Is there egg in Parmesan cheese? ›

Chances are, it was made with animal rennet, an enzyme that helps milk separate into curds and whey. That's because, according to EU law, Parmesan must contain just three ingredients: milk, salt, and—yup—animal rennet. Anything else, and it can't be called Parmesan (or “Parmigiano-Reggiano,” as it's known in Italy). 3.

Is Parmesan goat or cow? ›

Production: Parmigiano reggiano is made from cow's milk and is aged a minimum of 12 months (two- and even three-year versions are available at some cheese shops). Pecorino Romano is made from sheep's milk and is aged a minimum of five months (and up to eight).

Why is Parmesan not vegetarian? ›

The INSIDER Summary: Parmesan cheese uses rennet, an enzyme that's found in the lining of a goat or calf's stomach. Because cheeses like Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Manchengo, Gruyère, Gorgonzola, and others use it, they aren't technically vegetarian.

What animal is rennet from? ›

The most common form of rennet traditionally used in cheesemaking is animal rennet, which comes from the lining of the fourth stomach of a young ruminant – generally a calf.

How long is Parmesan aged? ›

Most of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the market is between 24 and 36 months old, but it can be found with longer maturations, from 40 months to over 100 months. What are the Parmigiano Reggiano ingredients?

What is another name for parmesan cheese? ›

Parmigiano-Reggiano, just called Parmesan if made anywhere other than Italy, is the "king of cheese," according to the cheese industry.

What is a good substitute for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese? ›

Best Substitutes for Parmesan Cheese (Dairy and Non-Dairy)
  • Granada Padano.
  • Piave.
  • Manchego.
  • Asiago Cheese.
  • Romano Cheese.
  • Soy Parmesan.
  • Nutritional Yeast.

Is Parmigiano-Reggiano the same as parmesan cheese? ›

Parmesan is the English and American translation of the Italian word Parmigiano-Reggiano. There is also evidence that in the 17th to 19th centuries Parmigiano-Reggiano was called Parmesan in Italy and France. In the U.S., the word "Parmesan" is not regulated.

Can I use cheddar instead of parmesan? ›

Cheddar cheese is a hard English cheese, while Parmesan is a hard Italian cheese. Parmesan has a rich flavor and less aging time while Cheddar cheese is less expensive and has fewer calories.
Comparison chart.
Cheddar CheeseParmesan Cheese
Calories per 100g336431
7 more rows


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