I have made hard cheese before, Parmesan and my Ewe’s milk basket cheese ended up being a great hard cheese for grating, but I like Asiago and I thought I would try the recipe in Mary Karlin’s book gives you two options for the cheese and produces two small wheels. One that would be aged for seven to eight months or the d’allevo type and another that could be aged to the Pressato stage for 4 weeks. The ones that I made are not true Asiago, not only because of the PDO status of the cheese, but also of the milk used and obviously the environmental conditions of my little slice of life here in Edmonton.
“Asiago is an Italian cow’s milk cheese that can assume different textures, according to its aging, from smooth for the fresh Asiago (Asiago Pressato) to a crumbly texture for the aged cheese (Asiago d’allevo) of which the flavor is reminiscent of Parmesan. The aged cheese is often grated in salads, soups, pastas, and sauces while the fresh Asiago is sliced to prepare Panini or sandwiches; it can also be melted on a variety of dishes and cantaloupe.
As Asiago has a protected designation of origin (Denominazione di Origine Protetta or DOP), the only “official” Asiago is produced in the alpine area of the town of Asiago, province of Vicenza, in the Veneto region. Asiago cheese is one of the most typical products of the Veneto region.” Wikepedia
Asiago is a thermophilic cheese, which means we heat the curd to a higher than 40C, which would kill off any mesophilic cultures. For this make I used my trusty Roaster Vat and 12 Litres of Vital Greens Cream line whole milk, which is low heat pasteurised milk that is produced in Picture Butte Alberta. Thermo B culture, rennet and CaCl to help with the curd were all used to produce this great little cheese. It was a relatively uneventful make, well having an eleven month old craw around your legs while making cheese was interesting, but everything else pretty much went to plan. I find that picture are worth a 1000 words so here is the make with some commentary.
I have been know to be a bit heavy-handed with stirring but I am happy with how this one started.
The next part was quite busy and I was not able to get pictures of the draining or adding to the press. But I do have one note for you, thermophilic cheeses often stick to cheesecloth while pressing and are a pain to get off. Dip your cheese cloth in the warm whey and then put it into the mould and then load up your cheese.
I have now purchased some real moulds and will start using them with my next make.
The larger of the two cheeses was kept in the press over night and then into the brine, but it needed a trim first.
I have a screw top press, it is effective, but you have to adjust all the time.
It was six am by this time and I had to get going to work, so into the brine bucket and into the refrigerator for 12 hours. I knew I would not get to flip it half way through the day, so I dry salted the top with a good hand full of salt. How this will affect it, time will tell.
I have often been told, and experienced that it is harder to age a smaller cheese than a large one. Notice how the rind is about a 1/4 inch into the paste of the cheese. That does not leave a lot of cheese to eat.
I have rubbed the little guy with some olive oil and fresh cracked pepper. I am not sure about it after doing it, the rind looks dirty. The big boy is coming along nicely and has a solid rind. In reality only the little guy will get tasting notes as the big guy will probably be next year’s Christmas Gifts. There are more pictures of this make over on Much To Do About Cheese on Facebook
Tasting Notes – Pressato Version aka The little Guy:
- Appearance: Nice with a slight sheen from the Olive Oil
- Nose (aroma): Smells of Olive Oil and pepper
- Overall Taste: Mild but a bit of pepperiness when you eat the rind
- Sweet to Salty: Not really sweet, not salty, but with a slight nuttiness.
- Mild (mellow) to Robust to Pungent (stinky): Mellow not overpowering at all
- Mouth Feel: (gritty, sandy, chewy, greasy, gummy, etc.): smooth but with some firmness
Go and make cheese!