A single wheel of parmesan cheese can set you back about over 1000 dollars. Parmesan cheese has a huge thriving market in Italy that about 3.6 million wheels on average are being produced in the country each year. The industry is worth a mind-blowing 2.2 billion euros, which equates to about 2.5 billion US dollars – making the Parmesan cheese one of Italy’s biggest exports.
A Parmesan wheel takes one whole year to age, 131 gallons of milk to make, and can only be produced in a small, specific area in Northern Italy – the Emilia Romagna region. The area’s Italian name – Parmigiano Reggiano – means from the cities of Parma and Regi.
The very first Parmesan cheese producers were monks from thousands of years ago. However, through many generations, they share the same concept: Parmesan wheels were only made with three ingredients – cow milk, salt, and rennet. There are only 329 dairies in the whole world that are certified to produce Parmesan cheese, and they’re all based in the same area where the monks used to make it. In fact, it’s impossible to make the exact same parmesan products outside of the production area. This is all because of the three good bacteria that only thrive in this specific region.
Food Insider takes us to a dairy farm in Parma, Italy and shows us how exactly Parmesan cheese is made and to get to the bottom of why this cheese variety is so expensive. Watch the full video here to take a look at this interesting cheese backstory that has survived the test of many centuries.