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Storie Genuine

Latteria Sociale di Tabiano and Parmigiano Reggiano

History of an Italian DOP cheese

The history of Parmigiano Reggiano begins far away and also finds traces in the Decameron, but it is necessary to proceed in order and define all the fundamental steps in the creation and maintenance of one of the Italian excellences.

The certified beginning: Parmesan and monastery

The Middle Ages is the starting point where Cistercian and Benedictine monks created a product capable of lasting over time, with a wide shape and a dry texture.

The essential ingredients are the salt from the Salsomaggiore salt pans and the milk from the Grangie cows. The monks thus began the production of this precious product capable of being preserved over time and offering a wonderful taste.

The expansion of Parmesan

The start of trade between different areas allows the product to begin to expand its notoriety and reach territories that we now recognize as Tuscany, Piedmont and Romagna.

The plains of Reggio Emilia and Parma, thanks to the perfect structure of the territory and climatic conditions, sharpen production by creating large wheels capable of reaching 18 kg.

The cow farms expand thanks to the integration of milk processing, the dairy becomes a production and economic hub.

Thanks to expansion, chefs began to use the particular ingredient and cheese traders exported the product to Germany, France, Spain and Flanders.

Protection and denomination of Parmigiano DOP

The Duke of Parma Ranuccio I Farnese decided to protect the production and make the denomination of origin official through an act dated 7 August 1612. The precious writing lists salient points and specific places from which the cheese must come in order to be called "from Parma". .

The first productions of Parmigiano Reggiano

The history of Parmigiano Reggiano finds its place in a particular area of ​​Italy, where various environmental and structural components have made it possible to create the ideal habitat for Parmigiano Reggiano of certified origin.

The nutritional and organoleptic qualities and properties of the product coming from this particular variety are of an excellent level, difficult to match, almost impossible to replicate.

The history of the Tabiano dairy

Listening to the stories that tell of the beginning of the dairy is a bit like being catapulted back into the past, when rural and peasant life was the fulcrum of the town, the rhythms were dictated by the different processes essential for the different activities, when in the industries it was human strength prevailing and technology combined with automated machinery were - almost - unachievable dreams.

Those who lived through the era say that at the table we talked about how to milk the cow, how to improve the product, how to create the perfect shape.

The tradition at the Parmigiano Reggiano museum tells the story of the life lived by those who in that context grew up to become men and learned the art of producing DOP marked cheese.

The Tabiano dairy was the hub of various activities, over time it had transformed into a real village where everything was in the right place, different realities collaborate to create something unique and spectacular.

Here, there and all the way down

Retracing the logistical dislocation is something fascinating that demonstrates how what we now consider a simple product was once the center of a community. At the center of the village was the dairy and in front of it a small square, which was a nod to the tavern and the blacksmith's workshop.

There were also the barn and the stables with the pigsties which, despite the immense courtyard, occasionally offered the inhabitants the smell of nature, perhaps not exactly romantic and inviting, but this too is part of nature. The dairy was made up of three different areas: the dairy, the cooking room and the butter factory where the butter was packaged on large tables.

Nearby there was a large and imposing element, it was the steam generator which, powered by coal, allowed the water necessary for cooking the cheese to be heated. Below, the salters to let the product rest in order to guarantee the right preservation.

Cheese processing and times

The moment in which the dairy proliferated with life was in the morning, when the first indispensable processes were carried out. Everything had to flow smoothly, so as to create a perfect product without the slightest flaw.

The milk arrived at the social dairy in the evening and at dawn, the cheesemaker had the task of distributing it into the basins, distinguishing its origin since some orders came from farms with fatty milk and needed to be cleaned to create a homogeneous raw material.

The procedure had to respect a specific process: control, collection in the basins, addition of grafting and definition of the times of the curd which, depending on various elements - time, humidity, season and feeding of the cows - underwent numerous variations.

Subsequently, the acidity test took place where the cheesemaker used all his experience to identify any bad odors and regulate the acidity of the product by adding or reducing the whey.

The tapping of the curd was done with hawthorn branches and then replaced with metal wires, and continued until the appearance of white flocules, which meant that the temperature set at the start had been reached and only then did the cooking stop. Once cooking was completed, the cheeses were wrapped and moved to the salting room, where they would rest for at least 20 days.

The two parmesan cheeses

Nature was a fundamental element and allowed the creation of various products. Maggengo was produced from 1 April to 11 November, Vernengo from San Martino until the end of March.

The dairy was in full operation only when milk was present in large quantities and was suspended during the harsh winters as the cows produced little milk and the process became excessively long, losing quality.

In fact, once upon a time the stables were much less technological than today, and it is important to remember that the technology applied was only a distant mirage. Even the number of garments was reduced when compared to modern times, consequently it is easy to understand why production took place in particular and precise periods.

In addition to Parmigiano Reggiano

At the Tabiano social dairy, various other productions have taken hold, including butter which becomes a perfect tool for making the best use of the milk ingredient. Different versions based on the season: pure white in winter, straw yellow in spring when the cows mainly fed on grass.

Production took place with tools that today we consider spartan such as greaseproof paper and solid wood block dividers.

The butter packaging machine saw the light of day only after the war when the industry began to take its first steps and also took hold in rural areas.

During the war it was ricotta, obtained from the cheese whey, that was the flagship. Good and tasty, it reached the tables due to extreme necessity and also fed the animals at the same time, so as to limit the purchase of feed.

Piggery and ice house completed the dairy village where people lived undisturbed in full respect of the times of nature.

The dairy warehouse

It's easy to imagine the dairy, or rather the village that had been built around it over time.

The warehouse was also a symbolic place, here the wheels were kept to proceed with the maturing.

Where once there were stables and carriages, over time structures have been established to accommodate more or less valuable forms.

Having reduced the area dedicated to the chicken coop and pigsty, the warehouse took up a large space inside the rock.

The wheels were dyed black using a mix of flour, oil and earth to protect the crust from the appearance of mold and avoid constant cleaning to be carried out manually. The beater was another symbolic figure who, thanks to his experience, decreed the seasoning and examined every single piece.

In front of the buyer he listed the specific qualities "just" by listening to the sound that the shape produced, examined the inside with a needle and concluded the sale.

Parmigiano Reggiano and the auction

It really happens, the London auction house Giverny has put an entire wheel of cheese up for auction from 27 October to 6 November 2022. The product is a unique piece as it responds to long maturation times and develops unique aromas and incredible flavors .

The form saw the light in April 2000 in the social dairy of Tabiano which at the time was still managed by Erio Bertani. This was one of the first forms to receive a special certification: "Mountain Product - Consortium Quality Project" assigned by the Conva consortium, responsible for the production of the Apennines.

Erio Bertani kept the shape until 2018 in his warehouses, his wife and children then chose to give it to charity to honor their husband's memory.

A 21-year-old form that is hypothesized to have an amber color, a strong taste and an indescribable scent, probably also the qualities of the product are unique characteristics that have increased in value over time.