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Following the Rules


The rules for making Grana Padano cheese date back a thousand years. They were first set down by the Benedictine monks of the Po Valley. The cheese is made solely from Italian milk, taken no more than twice a day from milch cows fed according to precise rules and processed only using conical-shaped copper cauldrons, from each of which not more than two cheeses are obtained after natural cream skimming.

The cheesy mass is left on the bottom of the cauldron for 45-60 minutes to harden. Then the operators, using a pole and a fabric sheet (“schiavino”) lift it inside the cauldron and split it into two equal parts, the “twin cheeses”. Each is wrapped in a hemp or jute cloth and placed on a block.

At this point, each new cheese is enclosed in a cheese-mould, once made of wood and now of teflon, held tight and pressed by a heavy disc of the same material. About eight hours after being placed in the mould, between the mould itself and the side of the cheese, another plastic mould is positioned featuring the marks of origin in relief: the four-leaf clover with the serial number of the cheese factory, the provincial code and the month of production, and the small dotted lozenges which are the symbol of Grana Padano, distributed over the entire surface and consequently visible on every part of the rind.

After about 24 hours, the teflon mould is replaced by a perforated steel one with a slightly convex design, which gives the cheese its final shape after a couple of days. At this point, it is ready for salting and is soaked in a solution of water and salt for a period of time that varies between 16 and 25 days. After drying in suitable premises, maturing begins. This lasts between 9 and 24 months, in well insulated environments, with modern temperature and humidity control systems and correct ventilation.

During this time, which is essential for making a great cheese, the Grana Padano undergoes a series of physical, chemical and microbiological changes that affect its organoleptic characteristics.

It becomes a highly digestible food because, during maturing, a large portion of the proteins is partially broken down by the cheese enzymes – in a sort of pre-digestive process – into peptones, peptides and amino acids, which are all more easily  and quickly assimilated by the body.


And the years give the cheese a different taste – the young cheese is mild and gains in strength as it matures.

After maturing, Grana Padano cheeses are examined using traditional control instruments – the small hammer, the needle and the probe. Any further inspections that might be required are carried out by splitting.

If the cheeses pass all the tests, they are branded as a guarantee of the “healthy, faithful and marketable” quality of the Grana Padano. These brands are applied by the cheese production experts in the presence of Protection Consortium representatives and according to the provisions laid down by the certification institute.

Without this brand, the cheese cannot be marketed as Grana Padano. The brand must also appear on all grated and portioned packs, thus ensuring the consumer that the cheese inside is really DOP “Grana Padano”.

Those cheeses that bear the “Grana Padano” mark of origin, but which do not pass the final tapping test in terms of quality and marketing characteristics, are covered with marks that hide the lozenges and four-leaf clover which would otherwise identify as “Grana Padano” a cheese that has not qualified as such.

    

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