Provolone Valpadana PDO - shapes of tradition
A frenzy between the vapours and silence of ripeningThousands of Friesian milk cows produce the milk that will first be collected and then processed in the modern dairies. It's here that the innumerable forms that distinguish the one-of-a-kind Provolone Valpadana PDO are born.
The milk is transformed thanks to the skills of man and nature. Today, as in the past, the milk becomes curd cheese and then cheese, thanks to the rennet, a substance that helped even the earliest pastors turn milk into cheese. It's liquid, if we want fresh cheese, or paste, if the Provolone Valpadana PDO is to be ripened. Today, as in prehistoric times, the rennet is a natural element that comes from animals, calves (for "dolce" type cheese), lambs or kids (for "piccante" type cheese), and coagulates the milk.
But before they use the rennet, the cheese makers enrich the milk with another powerful natural element, the whey starter, which is the whey that was set aside the day before (whey is the liquid that remains in the boiler when the curd has solidified) and left to stand over night. This substance is rich in microorganisms that are as precious as gold for the phenomena they will produce in the future cheese, but also because these enzymes, transmit day by day from one cheese to another, the hidden and intrinsic, but powerful, stamp that is characteristic of the place, the dairy and livestock stables that provided their milk.
The curd is cut for first time, then again at the second phase. But the most characteristic action of the process that leads to the millennial Provolone Valpadana PDO is the "spinning" (after all, we're dealing with "pasta filata" (spun paste) cheese).
Specially made moulds allow the paste to be shaped according to the desired shape: spherical, pear-shaped, cylindrical, salami-style, mandarin-syle.
The salt adds the final touch to the future cheese, before it rests in the ripening warehouses. For salting, the forms of Provolone Valpadana PDO are lowered into large tanks and immersed in water enriched with sea salt.
Once pulled from the brine, the cheeses are washed in cold water and tied.
The "binding" with special ropes is another special touch given by the cheese maker to its cheese, preserving another ancient custom that has never been lost. With time as its accomplice, the spell is fulfilled completely during ripening. It is here that, in a few days, a few months or even more than a year, substances ripen the cheese, working the bacteria and forming new flavours: and thus Provolone Valpadana PDO, "dolce" or "piccante", fresh or aged, is born.