The Ultimate Guide To Asiago Cheese
- Yash Lakhan
Updated : July 10, 2022 05:07 IST
Asiago is a D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) designated Italian cow's milk cheese, which means that authentic Asiago can only be produced in specific regions of Northern Italy.
Asiago is a D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) designated Italian cow's milk cheese, which means that authentic Asiago can only be produced in specific regions of Northern Italy. The texture of this popular Italian cheese can range from medium to hard depending on how long it has been aged.
Asiago cheese is produced in Italy's Veneto and Trentino regions and is available in both fresh and aged varieties. Fresh Asiago has a white or pale yellow rind and small, irregular holes throughout. It has a medium texture, similar to a firm sponge cake, and a delicately sweet and sour flavour, as well as a buttery aroma. The colour of aged Asiago ranges from pale yellow to amber yellow, with a compact to firm texture. It has a strong flavour and a nutty and yeasty aroma.
Other countries can produce Asiago-style cheese, but the real deal will bear a D.O.P. or D.P.O sticker. Pricing varies depending on origin and length of ageing, with fresh and non-Italian-made Asiago being relatively inexpensive and aged whereas imported D.O.P. Asiago commands a premium price.
How Is Asiago Made?
Fresh Asiago is made from whole milk, whereas aged Asiago is made from a combination of whole and skim milk. Both are heated to 95 degrees Fahrenheit before rennet and enzymes are added to form curds. After kneading, the mixture is heated to a higher temperature (about 105 to 115 F). Fresh Asiago is salted and pressed before being dried for two days, soaked in brine for two days, and then dry-aged for about a month. The curds for aged Asiago are placed in moulds and turned several times to drain the whey. The cheese is then brined or rubbed with salt before being aged for a few months to two years.
Types Of Asiago
Asiago is classified into two types based on the milk used and the length of time the cheese has aged. Fresh Asiago, also known as "Asiago Pressato," is made from whole milk and aged for approximately a month. The end result is a milder cheese with a softer, smoother texture than aged Asiago.
Aged Asiago, also known as "Asiago d'allevo," can be aged from a few months to two years. Mezzano is aged three to eight months and has a compact flavour that is lightly sweet and vegetal. Stravecchio is aged from 18 months to two years and is hard, crumbly, amber-coloured, and spicy. Vecchio is aged from nine to 18 months and is slightly bitter with a hard texture.
Both varieties can be found on cheese boards and in recipes, but they are used in different ways. Fresh Asiago is preferable for slicing and melting, whereas aged Asiago is preferable for grating. Asiago is commonly available in sliced, grated, or whole forms.
Wrap Asiago cheese in parchment, waxed, or butcher paper and place it in your refrigerator's meat and dairy drawer. Fresh Asiago cheese should be used within two weeks, while aged Asiago can be stored in the fridge for up to six weeks.
If mould appears on the cheese, trim it at least an inch below the mould, be careful not to touch the mould with the knife, and rewrap it in the fresh paper. If the cheese turns a dark colour and smells bad, throw it away.
Aged Asiago can be grated and frozen for up to a year in an airtight container. Use within a few days after defrosting. The flavour will be slightly duller, and the texture will be drier than it would be with fresh cheese.