It comes in big wheels of more than 30 kg. It has a creamy yellow hue, with a crumbly mouthfeel and nutty aromas. It represents the world famous culinary culture of the food valley of Italy. But how is Vacche Rosse Cheese actually made and why is it so special?
During one of our trips to Emilia Romagna, we had the honor of hanging out with cheesemaker Luciano and some of his 150 fabulous Vacche Rosse (Red Cows). From the field to the cellar, we followed every step of Vacche Rosse Cheese making.
Everything starts with the cows, the happiest, cleanest, most beautiful cows we’ve ever seen. Luciano is so obsessed with the diet of his Vacche Rosse that he gives them flax seeds in the colder months, when he has to substitute their beloved fresh grass with hay. That’s what makes their milk so rich in omega 3 and 6 (hello, antioxidants!) and beta carotene.
All the milk of Luciano’s Vacche Rosse is collected exclusively by hand twice a day and combined to start the cheese production. The milk is then cooked in open vats made of copper, called “caldaie”. Each caldaia contains more than 1,000 liters of milk and makes for 2 Vacche Rosse Cheese wheels. 14 liters of Vacche Rosse milk are just enough to make 1 kg of Vacche Rosse Cheese. That’s a lot of milk!
Rennet, milk coagulation, breaking of the curd, salting room, months of aging… Vacche Rosse Cheese making is a fascinating art made of precise movements handed down from one generation to the other. If you’re not a cheese nerd (yet!), watch our video of Luciano’s dairy farm and you’ll see for yourself what we mean when we say that this cheese is made the old fashioned way.
Vacche Rosse Cheese making follows the same steps of Parmigiano Reggiano production. After all, this is the cheese that inspired Benedictine monks to first produce Parmigiano Reggiano more than 800 years ago.
The extraordinary Vacche Rosse heritage breed, Luciano’s care for the well being of each cow, and the dedication to safeguarding this Italian food icon created a cheese “whose fragrance began to summon echoes of long ago,” to quote our friend Victor Hazan. Vacche Rosse Cheese is the king of hard aged cheese!