A popular type of Italian cheese that is made from whole milk and comes in fresh and aged.
This versatile cheese has three main types of Asiago cheese: fresh, aged, and extra-aged. Each type has a distinct flavor and texture, making it ideal for different uses.
Here's a closer look at the three types of Asiago cheese.
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What Is Asiago Cheese?
Asiago cheese is a cheese originating in the northern Italian regions of Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige. This semi-hard cheese has been produced for centuries and has a unique flavor profile that balances sweet, nutty, and sharp notes.
Asiago comes in two forms - fresca (younger) or vecchio (aged). The younger form has a milder flavor that makes it perfect for sandwiches, salads, and other everyday dishes. The aged form of Asiago is sharp, crumbly, and grainy due to its long aging process of about four months.
It’s ideal for use in recipes requiring strong flavors, such as sauces, soups, and baked goods like focaccia bread. Both types of Asiago provide an interesting complement to a wide array of food pairings and can take any dish from ordinary to extraordinary.
What Does Asiago Cheese Taste Like?
It has a creamy, savory, aged Italian cheese with a nutty and slightly sharp flavor. It has gained popularity for its satisfying and versatile taste that pairs well with many other flavors in dishes, making it one of the most popular cheeses to cook with.
Asiago cheese comes in two varieties: fresco (young) and vecchio (aged). The fresco variety has a milder, milky flavor, while the vecchio type has been aged nine months hence delivering a sharper taste. To enhance any dish, Asiago adds a delightful kick of salty and earthy taco, hints of which are released as one chews.
Different Types of Asiago Cheese
The most common type is fresh Asiago, which has a creamy texture with mellow nutty notes. Other forms include pressato, affine, and stravecchio.
Pressato (as pressed asiago) is made using slightly sour milk for a more nuanced flavor profile and can be eaten fresh for added sweetness or aged for a tangier taste.
Affine is a more intense savory Asiago cheese that has been aged at least 10 months to bring out its unique tastes and aromas.
Stravecchio is even stronger but still remains, frankly, the most popular form of Asiago.
There are three types of Asiago: fresh, aged, and extra-aged cheese.
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 made from fresh milk.
- 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.
- Dolce – a mild cheese with a semi-soft texture and sweet flavor
- Mellace – a medium-hard cheese with a creamy texture and nutty flavor
- Vecchio – a hard cheese with an intense flavor and crystallized texture
- Mezzano – aged for two weeks and has a semi-hard texture, an intense flavor and sweetness
- Riserva – aged for 8–12 months, resulting in a hard texture and more intense flavor
- Stravecchio – (pressed asiago) aged for over 12 months, producing an intensely flavored cheese with small crystalline grains
Extra Aged Asiago:
- Fresco Stravecchio – aged for over 18 months and has a hard texture with small crystalline grains and intensely flavored
- Staggio – aged for 24–36 months, resulting in an extremely hard cheese with an incredibly strong flavor
- Vecchio Riserva – aged for 36–48 months and has an extremely hard texture with an intense, nutty flavor
Asiago d'Allevo Cheese
Asiago d'Allevo is a specialty Italian cheese from the Veneto region that has an intense flavor and a unique texture. It can be aged for at least four months to give it a smoother taste and richer depth of flavor.
The cheese contains minerals, vitamins, and other nutritional benefits, making it a great addition to any diet. It is made using cow's, sheep's, and goat's milk, which is heated to 35 degrees Celsius before rennet and enzymes are added.
After 48 hours of kneading, partially cooking, and firing two more temperatures, the cheese is put into molds for the aging process. As the aging time increases, so does the intensity of flavor. You can enjoy this delicious cheese as a table cheese with bread or salads as an appetizer or melted into sauces for added depth of flavor.
Asiago d'Allevo also makes an excellent topping on pizzas or in simple dishes such as scrambled eggs.
Asiago Stravecchio cheese is a unique type of Asiago originating from the Veneto region of Northern Italy. It is made with fresh cows' milk and salt, producing a firm paste that can hold its shape when sliced.
This cheese has a deep golden color that is crumbly upon first bite, revealing a sharp and nutty flavor with a slightly sweet taste finish. The flavor also intensifies over time, as it needs to be aged for at least 12 months up to 24 months before it reaches its full potential.
This Italian delicacy can be added to various recipes such as pasta, risotto, and salads, and even used in place of Parmesan for an added depth and complexity of flavor. Asiago Stravecchio pairs well with robust red wines such as Sangiovese or Barbera for a delicious dinner setting that's sure to impress any guest.
Asiago Mezzano cheese is considered to be the classic or “true” Asiago cheese. Also known as Asiago Pressato, it is made from reduced-fat cow’s milk which gives it a lower fat content and milder taste than other types of Asiago.
It has a firm, dry texture with a sweet and creamy flavor profile that can be described as grassy, milky, and nutty. You can use it as a grating cheese for topping dishes or slicing it into cubes for salads, omelets, and sandwiches.
Asiago Mezzano cheese is known for its versatility in recipes, making it one of the most popular. The cheese is often referred to as Asiago Pressato because of its pressed shape.
Protected Designation of Origin
Asiago cheese production has a Protected Designation of Origin or PDO. This certification is an official recognition of origin given to certain types of food and beverages around the world. It is regulated by the European Union and guarantees quality, tradition, and provenance.
When it comes to asiago dop certification, it means that only certain cheeses made in Italy, following strict guidelines, can be labeled and sold as genuine Asiago cheese. This helps to ensure that customers seeking true Asiago cheese are not disappointed or misled when they purchase their product.
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.
What Are Some Substitutes?
Looking for a substitute for Asiago cheese? Here are some options to consider:
- Parmesan: Similar in texture and taste, Parmesan is an excellent substitute.
- Romano: Another hard Italian cheese with a sharp flavor, Romano pairs well with pasta dishes.
- Piave Vecchio: A cheese originating from Veneto that has a nutty flavor similar to Asiago.
- Emmental: This Swiss cheese can be used to replace Asiago in many recipes and dishes.
- Cheddar: For milder dishes, cheddar makes an excellent replacement for Asiago.
Benefits of Asiago Cheese
It 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.
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.
How Is Asiago Cheese Made?
The traditional method involves pressing curdled milk in brass or wooden moulds before immersing them in warm whey for a period of time, followed by salting and ripening the cheese.
Depending on preferences, the cheeses can be aged from three months to two years. During maturation, the rind is regularly rubbed to induce development of desirable aromas and textures typical for Asiago.
Skilled artisans can craft different varieties of Asiago with varying flavors and textures; for example, Asiago d’allevo is renowned for its creaminess and taste, while Asiago pressato offers a milder flavor with notes of nutmeg.
Steps To Make:
1. Heat milk to 95 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Add rennet and enzymes
3. Allow the mixture to thicken
4. Cook and fire at two different temperatures
5. Transfer the mixture into molds
6. Leave it to rest for a few hours
7. Cut into blocks and salt
8. Age for 4-6 months (or more)