Asiago cheese is one of the most prominent representatives of Italian cheeses, which are ranked as semi-solid varieties. For its preparation is used exclusively cow's milk, which is considered a classic of the genre. Moreover, no exotic additives such as mold or the larvae of cheese flies are turned away from tasting a refined product.
Varieties and their characteristics
The classification of this subspecies of Italian cheese pride provides for the division into two main camps. The first provides a fresh product, which is also called young. The second group is widely represented by already matured heads, which is especially appreciated by recognized gourmets.
If you wish to cook and then taste fresh cheese, just wait forty days set aside for ripening. At the same time, the traditional form for a ready-to-eat dish is a cylindrical format with bulges on both sides of the "bar".
The diameter of a product ready for sale or export rarely reaches even 40 centimeters. This somewhat limits the limiting weight of each head, which should weigh no more than 15 kilograms permissible by the manufacturing technology.
Taste delight elastic crust, which has a subtle yellowish tint. Inside a slightly sticky and at the same time soft mass, there are single large eyes.
Professionals can recognize young asyago, which is also called azyago, only by flavor and aftertaste. The pleasant smell of fresh milk caresses the nose, and the sweetish taste will delight those who do not accept sharp varieties.
Much longer will have to wait for those who want to wait for full aging. Usually this process stretches over a couple of years. In contrast to the young analogue, the shape here though remains cylindrical, but instead of convex sides there appear completely flat sides. Because of this, the average diameter is reduced to 36 centimeters.
The maximum allowable technological nuances of weight, which is now fixed at the level below 12 kilograms, are also decreasing. Cheese surface received elastic crust golden hue. Under it the fragrant pulp hides, but with smaller eyes. The aroma and aftertaste of the ripened variant is much more expressive and piquant than that of the young variations. But the production technology of both versions practically does not differ.
First, the masters take whole milk to warm it to forty degrees. After that, the liquid is mixed together with rennet to accelerate the process of clotting components.
As soon as the curd mass acquires a thicker consistency, it is crushed into granules, the size of which should not exceed a small nut.
After that, the mass is sent back to heat up, crushed and salted according to the original recipe of each cheese factory. In conclusion, the semi-finished product is laid out in special forms in order to cover it with canvas. Next, it remains only to tamp down the milk mixture and send it to aging in special storage facilities. The temperature there should be kept stable at a level of 15 degrees, and the humidity should not exceed 85 degrees.
Under these conditions, the head is formed for 96 hours, after which the temperature is lowered and the remaining time is waited according to the requirements.
How to choose and store?
If the consumer managed to find an allago in the supermarket, you should not rejoice ahead of time, since the probability of running into a fake is extremely high. In order to minimize the risks of being caught by scammers, experts advise to carefully study the labeling. This designation should include two important points at once:
- the word "asiago" on the package;
This will ensure the quality of the purchased goods.
Immediately after the product has been delivered home, it should be put in the fridge. The temperature there should be maintained at no more than 8 degrees. To preserve the energy value and taste characteristics it is better to wrap the piece in cling film.
It is also worth remembering that a young cheese in this state can lie for no more than 10 days, while a mature solution will “feel” comfortable for about a month.
Benefit and harm
The main weapon of asyago is a rich vitamin and mineral composition. Particularly noteworthy proteins that are easily absorbed by the body, even those people who usually prefer to put cheeses aside.
Pleasant composition of the presence of calcium. It aims to strengthen the bone skeleton, and acts as a preventive measure to block the development of osteoporosis. Due to the fact that in addition to calcium, the product also contains phosphorus, such a tandem contributes to the speedy regeneration of bone tissue, which is especially appreciated by people with a fragile skeleton.
Even nutritionists can not say anything against asyago, because its calorie indicator is much lower than other Italian famous varieties have. The only caution here is the individual intolerance of the components.
All this opens up a wide world of delicacy in cooking. These pros recommend to try such a delicacy immediately in its pure form. And only after evaluating the true taste, you can experiment with cooking:
Asiago bakers are especially revered, who often use it as a hearty filling for many private mini bakeries' branded pies. Find it as a sprinkle will turn out on pizza and open pies. But if such a proposal seems sacrilegious for the figure, then you can always enjoy a slice with a sip of rose or white wine.
Recipe for homemade
Since not all users can afford to buy an original product, the craftsmen have adapted the standard recipe to the needs of Russian-speaking cheese-makers. Now it is much easier to repeat the Italian classics. To do this, you only need to stock up in the right proportions of the following ingredients:
- 6 liters of milk;
- 0.35 g of rennet;
- 1 g of calcium chloride;
- 0.25 g of thermophilic starter.
The last item requires the presence of lactobacillus helveticus. You can clarify this component in the instructions for the purchased bag.
Next, you need to be vigilant and patience, as the step-by-step instruction involves several stages. You should start by heating the milk to a temperature of 32 degrees. After that, the starter is spread on its surface and left in this state for half an hour. Slowly stirring with a skimmer the starter, it is necessary to distribute it as evenly as possible.
At the same time, it will be necessary to dilute all calcium chloride to 50 ml of water. All rennet is diluted in a separate vessel for the same volume of water. As soon as the ingredients "go out", you can pour them into the milk. To get the optimum clot consistency, first mix the mass, and then leave it alone for about 45 minutes.
Upon completion of the formation of a clot, it is removed to cut into identical cubes, the side of which will not exceed 1.5 cm. In the cut state, the mixture is left for 10 minutes. After the expiration of the prescribed period, it must be stirred up for another 15 minutes, constantly monitoring that the temperature corresponds to 32 degrees.
As soon as the time comes, you will need to increase the temperature to the level of 41 degrees, but at the same time the flame should be minimal. For uniformity, it is necessary to skip the cheese grain all the time. Upon reaching the desired temperature will wait another 15 minutes, still stirring the contents of the saucepan.
The final stage of cooking involves forcing temperatures up to 48 degrees. It is necessary to reach the specified mark in 15 minutes, after which it must be maintained for another 20 minutes, stirring regularly.
Now it is allowed to get rid of most of the whey through the cheese form, so that it can warm up. Next, the form is covered with a lavsan napkin, laying out a semi-finished product. After 5 minutes, the mass that started to harden is inverted in the mold.
The finish line involves pressing with a pre-prepared weight of about 2.5 kg. You need to do this for half an hour, after which the head is removed, turned over, and the napkin restarts.
The procedure is repeated, but the time is increased to two hours, and the load must pull by 5 kg. Upon completion of the "weighted phase", the head turns over again and is pressed in an identical pattern. Once the job is done, the load is removed, and the cheese is left right in the form at room temperature until the next day.
Then the product is removed from the mold, leaving at the same temperature for 24 hours. Later it will only be salted using a 20% solution with a holding time of about 5-6 hours. For the best result in the middle of the operation, the head is turned over.
The aging process begins with the sending of goodies to a room with a temperature of about 12-14 degrees, where it will remain for almost a week. There is no exact time here, since you need to wait for the formation of a pronounced dry peel. Then it is covered with wax or coated with natural olive oil.
Aging with the support of the optimum temperature (12-14 degrees) takes from 30 to 40 days, after which the culinary masterpiece created with your own hands will not be ashamed to serve dear guests. But even completely natural cheese is better dosed to avoid overeating.