The processing steps of Provolone Valpadana P.D.O., between tradition and technology
The processing of Provolone Valpadana cheese is a process consisting of several stages, some still carried out completely by hand, others with the help of advanced machines, but in any case with a very high quality standard as required by the production regulations.
A long process, which requires patience, because in addition to manual work, a long wait is also necessary for the strong type, which corresponds to the maturing time.
It is the very origins of Provolone that remind us of a complex process: the very birth of this cheese was in fact a fortunate combination of local fauna, emigration and reclamation.
The processing phases
Provolone Valpadana cheese originates from the Friesian breed of cows. Thanks to them, milk is produced, which is collected and treated in the producer dairies. This is the very first element that suggests the quality of the cheese.
Here the hand of man is involved and, specifically our master cheesemakers, the milk is transformed into curd.
First of all, the natural whey is added to the milk. This is the residual of what forms inside the boiler from the transformation of the milk into curd. The grafted whey is left to rest for a day and night and then added to the milk.
This is a fundamental operation, because it is the grafted whey that contains all those microorganisms that make Provolone Valpadana what it is.
The rennet, obtained from calves for the mild version and from goats and lambs in the case of the strong one, is a fundamental element for the production of the cheese: it allows the milk to coagulate.
Once added to the milk, already combined with the serum, the first break is made, then followed by a second one.
Finally it’s time for the most characteristic process of producing Provolone Valpadana D.O.P., the spinning. This is the operation that gives shape, or better the forms, to this cheese, through modelling in the moulds.
Finally, the cheeses are immersed in large tanks of water and salt and then washed and tied.
The ligature allows to give Provolone Valpadana P.D.O. its very particular shape: a completely manual procedure, a legacy of even more ancient working processes, which is still preserved today.
This is how the last stage in the production of Provolone Valpadana cheese begins: the seasoning. This has a variable duration: from 10 days to 2-3 months for the mild version, up to 12 months for the strong one.