Asiago PDO is a semi-cooked cheese made only with cow’s milk, produced in two typologies: Pressato (pressed), with whole milk, and d’Allevo (nurtured) with skimmed milk, that has a more decisive flavour.
The production area of Asiago PDO is within the territory of the Province of Vicenza, as well as in two bordering areas in the provinces of Padua and Treviso, in the Veneto region; within the Autonomous Province of Trento.
A starter culture, cow’s rennet and a small quantity of salt are added to the milk, raw whole or pasteurised for the Pressato version, and raw semi-skimmed or thermised for the D’ Allevo version. After curdling and breaking of the curd, the product is semi-cooked and pressed for around 12 hours; the cheese forms are conserved for 48 hours in an environment with a temperature between 10-15°C. The forms are then dry salted or salted in brine. The minimum period of ripening is 20 days for Asiago PDO Pressato and 60 days per Asiago PDO d’Allevo, and the process must take place within the production area, in storerooms with a temperature of 10-15°C. Asiago PDO accompanied by Prodotto della Montagna (Mountain Product, of an altitude higher than 600 m.a.s.l.), must be obtained from the milk of mountain breeds that have been milked two or four times; in this case, the ripening process lasts a minimum of 30 and 90 days respectively for Asiago PDO Pressato and Asiago PDO d’Allevo. The product must be processed and ripened on the premises of businesses located in the mountains.
Appearance and Flavour
Asiago PDO Pressato has a thin and elastic rind, with a white or slightly straw-colored interior that has irregular and defined eyes. It has a soft, sweet and delicate flavour. Asiago PDO d’Allevo has a smooth and even rind, with a compact interior ranging from straw yellow to amber in colour; there is a scattering of small-to-medium sized eyes. It has a decisive and savoury flavour and a characteristic aroma.
In around 1000 A.D., a delicious sheep’s milk cheese was produced on the plateau that gives Asiago PDO its name, also known as the Altopiano dei Sette Comuni (The Plateau of the Seven Municipalities). In around the XVI century, sheep were replaced by bovine, whose milk gave birth to the dairy technique that is still used in the Malghe region today. D’Allevo is the oldest type of Asiago cheese, whereas production of the Pressato version only began in the 1920s, which is ripened for a shorter period of time.
Asiago PDO Pressato must be eaten within 10 days of purchase. Asiago PDO D’Allevo can be kept for up to a month. A wedge of Asiago PDO should be wrapped in cling film and kept at a temperature of 8-9°C. Asiago PDO Pressato can be diced and served as nibbles, or as an ingredient in sandwiches, salads, baked pasta, and pizza toppings. Asiago PDO d’Allevo is best served with fresh fruit at the end of a meal, or used in recipes to give them more “character” and a decisive taste. The Vecchio (aged) and Stravecchio (very aged) versions can be grated.
The freshly produced forms of Asiago PDO Pressato are pressed with manual or hydraulic presses, from which they take their name.