Asiago cheese is a nutty flavored cheese that is named for a region in Italy where it was first produced, known as the Asiago High Plateau, which lies within the Italian Alps. As far back as the year 1000 AD, Asiago cheese was produced by farmers in this region for use locally, now, it is manufactured commercially in northeast Italy, the Asiago DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta – Protected Origin Denomination) specifically in the provinces of Vincenza e Trento, Padua, and in Treviso where the Asiago High Plateau lies.
Asiago cheese is produced in two forms: fresh Asiago, also known as Pressato, and mature Asiago, which is called Asiago d’Allevo. Fresh Asiago has an off-white color and is milder in flavor than Asiago d’Allevo. Asiago d’Allevo also has a more yellowish color and is somewhat grainy in texture.
To make fresh Asiago cheese only whole milk is used, and it is then aged for approximately 40 days. Meanwhile, to produce Asiago d’Allevo cheese, partially skimmed, not whole, milk is used and the cheese is aged for a much longer period of time – anywhere from three months to up to a year depending on the flavor and texture desired. Asiago d’Allevo cheese also contains small to medium holes throughout its body. Its texture also varies from semi-firm to firm depending on how long it is aged.
Both types of Asiago cheese are known as “mountain cheese”, this nickname arises from the fact that it is produced from cows that graze on lush, mountain pastures. As a result, the cows produce thick and rich milk that serves as the backbone for making these full-flavored cheese. Asiago cheese also holds certification by a cheese consortium, which ensures that the cheese is produced under certain guidelines in order for it to meet high quality standards.
This cheese takes its name from an ononymous plateau which was already renowned for its fertile pastures in the year 1000. In the Middle Ages, only sheep were raised on the Asiago plateau and it was not until the sixteenth century that cattle were introduced, chiefly in response to a popular preference for cheese made from cow’s milk. Asiago is a semi-cooked cow’s milk cheese. There are two types of Asiago on sale: “Asiago di Allevo” and “Asiago Pressato”, made according to different manufacturing techniques. The area of production covers a large number of town districts in the provinces of Trento, Padua, Vicenza and Treviso.