A popular type of Italian cheese that is made from whole milk and comes in fresh and aged. Fresh is white and soft, while the aged Asiago is sharper in taste and harder. This cheese has a long history that goes back to the Middle Ages.
Each type of asiago is named for the region where it is made. For example, there is d’Allevo, which is made in the mountains near Trento, Italy. Next, Pressato is made in the province of Vicenza, and Stravecchio is aged for at least 12 months. In Italy, Asiago has a protected designation of origin (Denominazione di Origine Protetta or DOP.
⬇️ Table of Contents
- Different Types of Asiago Cheese
- Asiago d'Allevo Cheese
- Asiago Stravecchio Cheese
- Asiago Mezzano Cheese
- Protected Designation of Origin
- What Does Asiago Cheese Taste Like?
- Region: Asiago Plateau
- The 'Malghe'
- How Is Asiago Cheese Made
- Wine and Asiago Cheese
- What Are Some Substitutes?
- Nutrition and Health Benefits
- How To Store Asiago
This famous authentic type of cheese is made in the Asiago region of Italy. It is made from cow's milk and has a characteristic blue-green color. It is usually eaten fresh but can also be used in a variety of recipes.
The history dates back to the Middle Ages when it was first made in the town of Asiago in the Lombardy region of Italy. The cheese was originally made from sheep's milk, but over time it came to be made from cow's milk. Today, it is still made in the same region using traditional methods.
Asiago cheese has a mild flavor and can be used in salads and pizza. It is available in many grocery stores.
Different Types of Asiago Cheese
There are three types of Asiago: fresh, aged cheese, and extra-aged.
Fresh Asiago cheese is made using whole milk, while aged Asiago cheese is made from a mixture of whole and skimmed milk.
- Fresh has a mild, creamy flavor. It is soft in texture and has a white color.
- Aged has a sharper flavor than fresh. It is hard cheese in texture and has an off-white color.
- Extra-aged has the sharpest flavor of the three types of cheese. It is hard in texture and has a yellowish color.
Pressed Asiago is made from a blend of two types of milk. The first milk is from cows grazing in the highlands, and the second is from cows grazing in the lowlands. These two types of milk are blended and heated to temperatures between 86 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
After the milk has been heated, rennet is added to it. Rennet is an enzyme that helps to coagulate, which helps turn the liquid into a solid. Once the rennet has been added, the mixture is allowed to sit for 30 minutes to fully coagulate.
After 30 minutes, the now-solid mixture is cut into small pieces and placed in a cheesecloth. The cheesecloth helps to press out any excess water from the mixture and gives the pressed cheese its shape. Once it has been placed in the cheesecloth, It is typically pressed for 24 hours to remove all of the water.
After 24 hours, it is ready to be eaten.
Asiago d'Allevo Cheese
Asiago d'Allevo cheese the production process for Asiago d'Allevo involves using several types of milk, including cow's, sheep's, and goat's milk. The cheese is aged for at least six months before it is packaged and sold.
The raw milk used to make it is heated to about 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), and then rennet and enzymes are added as a liquid solution. The batter is kneaded, partially cooked, and then fired at two other temperatures before being put into molds for cheese-making.
Asiago d'Allevo cheese is made by dividing it up and leaving it to rest for a few hours, then turning it several times. It is salted in one of two ways: by spreading salt over the surface or soaking it in brine. The production process takes at least 48 hours; during this time, the cheese is turned several times.
It is produced in two varieties: Mezzano (middle) and Vecchio (old). The aging process lasts 4 to 6 months for Asiago Mezzano and 10 to 16 months for Asiago Vecchio. The taste of with the amount of aging it receives.
Asiago d'Allevo cheese must be aged for more than 15 months to achieve its full flavor. The paste is grainy and hard, with a bitter and spicy taste.
Asiago Stravecchio Cheese
Stravecchio cheese has a deep, golden color and a crumbly texture. The flavor is sharp and nutty, with a slightly sweet taste finish, and originates from the province of Vicenza in Italy's Veneto region. It is made from cow's milk, has a distinctively sharp flavor, and is matured for at least 12 months and sometimes up to 24 months.
It often uses pasta and risotto and pairs well with robust red wines such as Sangiovese or Barbera. It is also delicious shaved over salads or used in place of Parmesan in recipes.
Asiago Mezzano Cheese
Asiago Mezzano Cheese is a hard, grating cheese with a nutty, herbal flavor and a slightly gritty texture. It is often used in the grated form as a topping on pasta dishes and pizzas.
It is made from raw, unpasteurized milk. The curds are pressed into molds. The cheese is then aged for at least four months and intensifies with age.
Protected Designation of Origin
The Protected Designation of Origin is a certification mark granted by the European Union that guarantees the quality of an agri-food product. To receive the PDO designation, a product must meet certain criteria regarding its origin, ingredients, and production phases. These requirements ensure that the product is of unique quality and tradition. Typical specialties, traditional restaurants, and producers can receive the PDO designation.
Asiago vs. Gouda
Asiago is often mistaken for Gouda cheese, and while they are used in similar ways, they are produced differently. Gouda is a Dutch cheese with a fruity-nutty flavor that can sometimes be salty or sweet. It tends to have less sharpness than aged Asiago, and the two are typically interchangeable in recipes.
Asiago vs. Romano
Similar to a cheese called Romano, produced in southern Italy, and has a sharper flavor than aged. Asiago can be used in place of Romano cheese, but the taste will differ somewhat.
Asiago vs. Parmesan
Aged Asiago is also similar to the hard Italian cheese Parmesan. The two are sometimes used interchangeably in recipes, but Asiago has a more complex flavor than the sharper Parmesan.
What Does Asiago Cheese Taste Like?
As for taste, fresh Asiago cheese has a mild buttery, slightly sweet flavor, whereas aged has a sharper flavor. Asiago cheese is a type of cheese that has a sweet, nutty, and fruity taste. Its flavor can be modified by how it is aged. For instance, it will have a stronger flavor if it is aged for longer. Asiago cheese has a slightly smokey aftertaste, milder than other strong-tasting cheeses.
It has a firm texture but remains soft and spreads well. This makes it a great cheese to use in dishes because its flavor is not lost when heated. It is also a great cheese for toppings because it is not too sweet.
Fresh Asiago cheese has a thin rind that most people eat. The rind of long-aged Asiago can't be eaten, but it's perfect for adding to sauces, soups, stocks, and stews as it provides a lot of flavor.
Region: Asiago Plateau
The Asiago plateau is located in northeastern Italy and is known for its vast plain. The plateau is home to the 'Cimbri people and seven sister municipalities in a small independent nation called the 'League of Seven Sister Lands.'
Asiago cheese is named after the plateau and is made from the milk of cows that graze on the grasses of the area. The cheese has a nutty flavor and can be enjoyed fresh or aged.
The 'malghe' are buildings used for cheese production and are typical of the Asiago Plateau. They are considered the 'temples' of the local dairy tradition. The 'malghe' help to protect the quality and are essential to the Consortium for the Protection of Asiago Cheese.
How Is Asiago Cheese Made
The milk is heated and then cooled to a comfortable temperature for the bacteria to work. Then, rennet is added to the milk, which helps to thicken it. After that, the mixture is left to settle so the curds can form.
Once the curds have formed, they are cut into small pieces and then heated until they reach the desired temperature. After that, the curds are drained and then pressed so that the whey can be removed. Then, the cheese is aged for at least two months.
Made in two main categories: Asiago Pressato and Asiago d'Allevo.
- Asiago Pressato is made from fresh milk and is not aged.
- Asiago d'Allevo is made from milk that has been aged for up to 6 months. The cheese is made from whole, pasteurized cow's milk from cows graze in low-lying areas of the Plateau.
- The cheese is heated with enzymes to help it coagulate into a curd, then pressed into a mold and left to age for 20 to 40 days.
- The types of mezzano, vecchio, and striectchio vary based on how long they have been aged.
Wine and Asiago Cheese
Pairing wine and Asiago cheese can be tricky, as the flavor of the cheese can vary greatly depending on how it is prepared. For 'fresh Asiago,' a glass of white wine is generally the best choice, as the cheese is still quite mild in flavor. For 'seasoned Asiago,' however, a Cabernet dei Colli Berici would be a better option, as the bolder flavor of the cheese can stand up to a more full-bodied red wine. Finally, for a 'Soave,' a Vernaccia di San Gimignano would be an excellent choice, as the wine's acidity helps offset the cheese's richness.
What Are Some Substitutes?
Consider these options if you are looking for a substitution for Asiago cheese.
Sliced Swiss or mild white cheddar cheese are good substitutes for aged Asiago cheese. They both have a mellower flavor, so if you are looking for something that will not overpower the other flavors in your dish, then either of these two options would be ideal.
Aged cheese is a good substitute for fresh. It has a more intense flavor, so if you are looking for something with a little bit more punch, this is the option for you.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Asiago cheese is an excellent source of protein and calcium and is also low in fat. One ounce (28 grams) contains 7 grams of protein and 200 mg of calcium.
It has many health benefits due to its high protein and calcium content. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, and calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Asiago cheese contains various other nutrients, including vitamin A, B12, phosphorus, and zinc. These nutrients are important for maintaining good health.
In addition to its nutritional benefits, it has also been shown to have some potential health benefits. One study found that it may help protect against osteoporosis by increasing bone density.
Another study found that it may help to lower blood pressure. This is likely because it contains an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which has been shown to have blood-pressure-lowering effects.
How To Store Asiago
It should be stored in the fridge. It should be used within 2 weeks, and aged Asiago cheese can last for up to 6 weeks in the fridge. It needs to be wrapped tightly with food wrap to prevent it from drying out. If mold appears on the cheese, trim it off and rewrap it with new paper. If the cheese turns a dark color or smells bad, discard it. Aged Asiago cheese can be frozen and used later.