What Does Asiago Cheese Taste Like?
Asiago cheese may not be as popular as mozzarella, ricotta, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it is certainly one of the most valued Italian cheeses.
What does Asiago cheese taste like? The flavor of Asiago cheese depends on how long it has been aged. Fresh Asiago cheese has a mild milky flavor with light acidity and sweetness. Aged Asiago is pungent and nutty. The longer Asiago cheese is aged, the sharper it gets.
This article includes everything you need to know about Asiago cheese, including how it’s made and used, what texture Asiago cheese has, if it melts or not, and more.
What Is Asiago Cheese?
Asiago cheese is an Italian cheese variety made from cow’s milk. This is a highly cherished cheese variety that was first made in the Asiago Plateau.
Veneto region, in particular, is known to be one of the most traditional producers of Asiago cheese.
The production of this cheese dates back as early as 1000 BC. It is not surprising that this cheese variety receives a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) certification in Italy. The DOP label on Asiago cheese is proof that it has been made according to tradition.
Other countries, including the United States and Australia, also produce Asiago cheese. But if you are looking for authentic Asiago cheese, make sure to buy a wedge that has the DOP label.
For more information on the origins of Asiago cheese, take a look at this helpful video from Murray’s Cheese.
What Is The Texture Of Asiago Cheese?
Asiago cheese is a white or pale yellow cheese. Its texture may range from semi-soft to hard depending on how long it has been aged.
Fresh Asiago cheese is soft and creamy but it gets harder and crumblier as it ages. The rind of Asiago cheese is thin and edible.
Fresh Asiago is known as Asiago pressato. This translates into pressed Asiago from Italian. Asiago cheese that has been aged longer is known as Asiago d’allevo.
How Is Asiago Cheese Made?
There is a lot of thought and technique involved in the making of authentic Italian Asiago cheese.
As noted above, there are two types of Asiago cheese.
Also known as fresh Asiago, this is made from whole milk. According to the Italian tradition of making Asiago cheese, the milk for fresh Asiago cheese should come from cows that have grazed grass on the lowlands of the Asiago Plateau.
To make fresh Asiago cheese, the milk is first heated. To achieve curdling, enzymes are added to the milk. The curds are transferred into round cheese molds. Fresh Asiago cheese is first dry-salted and then cured in brine.
Fresh Asiago cheese is aged for around a month. During this short aging process, the cheese develops a semi-soft texture with irregular holes in the paste.
This is made with not only whole milk but also skim milk. Another thing that makes it different from fresh Asiago is that the milk for aged Asiago cheese should come from the milk of cattle that have grazed grass in the higher regions of the Alps.
The milk is heated. Then rennet is added to start the coagulation process. Once the milk curdles, the curds are transferred into molds.
The cheese is then salted and aged for at least 6 months. Some types of aged Asiago are aged for 15 or more months.
The longer Asiago cheese is aged the crumblier it becomes. Aging Asiago cheese also enhances its tangy and nutty flavor.
What Does Asiago Cheese Taste Like?
The flavor of Asiago cheese largely depends on how long it has been aged. Aged Asiago cheese has a sharper flavor profile. It is quite nutty and tangy.
Fresh Asiago, on the other hand, has a mild flavor. It is slightly acidic and sweet. If you like mild-flavored cheese, we recommend you get fresh semi-soft Asiago cheese.
What Does Asiago Cheese Smell Like?
Asiago cheese has a mild floral and milky smell especially if it is the fresh variety. The smell of Asiago cheese gets deeper and richer as it ages.
If your Asiago cheese smells bad, it has most likely gone bad.
Does Asiago Cheese Melt Well?
Fresh Asiago cheese has a semi-soft texture and melts quite well.
Asiago that has been aged for over a year isn’t good for melting. It is hard and dry. It is better to grate it over food as a form of garnish.
What Is Asiago Cheese Used For?
Fresh Asiago cheese is very versatile thanks to its texture and mild flavor. Aged Asiago has many uses too. When using aged Asiago, take into account its sharp flavor.
Here are some of the best uses for Asiago cheese:
- Cheese plate -Authentic aged Asiago cheese is an amazing addition to any cheese plate. The nutty flavor of Asiago cheese goes perfectly with dry red wines. Some full-bodied white wines are also good with asiago cheese. And if you don’t drink wine, enjoy it with crackers or bread.
- Soup – Asiago cheese is great for soups. You can use fresh Asiago to make creamy cheesy soups or shred aged Asiago on your soups right before serving them.
- Pasta – Asiago cheese is also good for pasta. You can use it to make any of your favorite pasta dishes, including four cheese pasta, chicken alfredo, lasagna, etc.
- Pizza – Fresh Asiago cheese melts quite well which means that you can use it to top your homemade pizza. You can use only Asiago cheese on your pizza or pair it with mozzarella for a richer cheese flavor.
- Sandwiches – Having a mild milky flavor, fresh Asiago cheese works well for hot and cold sandwiches. You can use it in any sandwich you like or go with the all-time favorite grilled cheese sandwich. To make your Asiago grilled cheese sandwich more Italian, you can add slices of prosciutto to it.
- Dips – Making dips is another great use for Asiago cheese. Baked Asiago cheese dips are particularly good.
- Salads – You can use shaved aged Asiago cheese in salads just like you do parmesan cheese. The nutty and sharp flavor of aged Asiago is particularly good in salads containing fruits and nuts.
What Cheese Tastes Like Asiago Cheese?
Asiago cheese is not the most popular cheese variety. Additionally, real Italian Asiago cheese may be rather expensive.
If you are looking for a cheese variety that tastes like Asiago cheese, here are some options you can consider.
Parmesan cheese is the best substitute for Asiago cheese as it tastes similar to aged Asiago cheese. Both cheeses have a nutty flavor and hard grainy texture.
Fresh Asiago is certainly milder and milkier than parmesan cheese. So, don’t use parmesan in recipes that call for fresh Asiago.
Texture-wise, parmesan is very similar to aged Asiago as both are hard, grainy, and crumbly.
You can use parmesan cheese instead of Asiago cheese in salads as well as grate it on top of pizza and pasta dishes.
Pecorino Romano is a hard Italian cheese with a sharp flavor. Despite the fact that Pecorino Romano is made from sheep’s milk, the overall flavor profile of this cheese comes close to the flavor of aged Asiago.
Note that Pecorino Romano may be saltier than Asiago cheese. This cheese is good for pizza, pasta, salads, soups, etc.
Grana Padano is another well-known Italian cheese that works perfectly as an Asiago cheese substitute.
It has a hard texture similar to the texture of aged Asiago. Grana Padano is aged for at least nine months as a result of which it has a rich nutty flavor reminiscent of the taste of aged Asiago.
If you are looking for a fresh Asiago substitute that is widely available and not high in price, then we recommend you use white cheddar.
Choose white cheddar with mild flavor for recipes that call for fresh Asiago cheese. White cheddar melts well and can be used instead of fresh Asiago cheese in nearly all recipes. Mild white cheddar is particularly good for hot sandwiches.
Another great substitute for fresh Asiago cheese is Provolone. Provolone is an Italian cheese with a semi-soft texture.
There are two varieties of Provolone cheese. Dolce is the mild and sweet variety of Provolone cheese that works great as a substitute for fresh Asiago.
Provolone Piccante is the sharper variety of Provolone cheese. It is a good alternative for aged Asiago.
How To Store Asiago Cheese
Store Asiago cheese in the fridge once you bring it home. You can keep the cheese in its original packaging if it is intact and fully protects the cheese.
Otherwise, remove the cheese from the packaging and place it in an airtight container or a zip-top bag, or wrap it tightly with food wrap to prevent the cheese from drying out.
How Long Does Asiago Cheese Last?
Stored properly, fresh Asiago cheese will last around 2 weeks in the fridge. Aged Asiago cheese lasts even longer. It may last from 4-6 weeks in the fridge.
How Do You Know Asiago Cheese Is Bad?
Discard Asiago cheese if it has developed a dark color, off-putting smell, and dry texture. If you notice mold on a block of Asiago cheese, cut off the moldy part and eat the rest of the cheese.
If you notice mold on shredded or crumbled Asiago cheese, discard all of it.
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