Originating from the plateau of Asiago from which it takes its name, it was first made using sheep’s milk, but since about 1500, only cow’s milk has been used. There are two types of Asiago: Asiago Pressato and Asiago d’Allevo, both covered by the Standards of Production of the Consortium of Protection for DOP production, which was obtained in 1996. They must be made in the provinces of Vicenza and Trento, in the area of hills and foothills west of Piave in the province of Treviso and in some communes in the province of Padua. Protected Designation of Origin is the strictest recognition reserved by the European Union for food products and represents the best guarantee of excellence for the consumer. This means that only cheese made, aged and packed according to the Standards of production of Asiago PDO cheese can bear the “Asiago DOP” mark.
Asiago PDO – Asiago Pressato, common from 1920 onwards, is made from whole cow’s milk from a single milking to which curd and milk enzymes are added. The resulting curd is cooked at 44°C, placed in circular moulds and pressed in order to make it easier for the whey to drain out. The cheese is then salted in brine and left to age for a maximum period of 40 days. It is a cheese with a delicate flavour and with aromas that recall butter and fresh milk.
Asiago d’Allevo is obtained using cow’s milk from two milkings, of which only the first is skimmed by surfacing, with the addition of curd, milk enzymes and lysozyme. The curd that is formed is cooked at 47°C, collected in moulds and after salting in a brine bath, left to mature. Unlike Asiago Pressato, the Allevo cheese is left to age for a period of not less than 60 days, it is defined “mezzano” if aged for at least three months and “old” if it is aged for over nine months. The rind is thin and elastic, tending to brown, the longer the ageing, with a straw yellow paste with few holes, which is compact and semi-hard for the “mezzano” type, harder and more grainy for the old type. It is an intensely flavoured cheese that recalls scents of dried fruit and boiled chestnuts.
The strong points of Asiago DOP are its great versatility and how easy it is to use in cooking. Asiago Pressato is ideal for fillings and blending as it melts but does not dissolve. Asiago Allevo is a cheese of great gastronomic quality, both grated and accompanied by preserves or simply on its own, with its rich, unique and inimitable flavour.