Does Asiago Cheese Stink? A Simple Guide

Asiago cheese is a beloved Italian cheese that has been enjoyed for centuries. But with its strong aroma and pungent flavor, some people may wonder if it’s gone bad or if it’s just supposed to smell that way.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of Asiago cheese and answer the question on everyone’s mind: does it stink?

From its production process to its different varieties, we’ll delve into all things Asiago and help you understand why this cheese is so unique.

So grab a glass of wine and get ready to learn about one of Italy’s most iconic cheeses.

Does Asiago Cheese Stink?

Asiago cheese is known for its strong aroma and pungent flavor, which can be off-putting to some people. However, this is actually a characteristic of the cheese and not an indication that it has gone bad.

The production process of Asiago cheese is carried out according to strict guidelines that highlight the repetition of an ancient tradition for the good of the environment, the grazing cattle, and the consumer. The real “Product of the Mountain” Asiago DOP cheese is produced in an area reaching from the irrigated fields of the Po Valley to the hills of the Asiago Plateau and Trentino comprising four provinces: Vicenza, Trento, and part of Padua and Treviso.

Fresh Asiago cheese has a young flavor and a taste of milk fresh from the cow, melting in the mouth to release sweet and slightly sour notes. The cheese’s digestibility and palatability, and the presence of live lactic ferments, are qualities appreciated by nutritionists who recommend Fresh Asiago for a good, healthy diet.

Seasoned Asiago cheese is a flavorful cheese with a strong personality. It can be “Mezzano” (medium seasoned), “Vecchio” (mature), or “Stravecchio” (extra mature) depending on the seasoning. It can contribute up to 50% of daily protein requirements, with a protein content of high nutritional value.

The aroma and flavor of Asiago cheese are enhanced by aging, which can make it smell even stronger. However, this is not an indication that it has gone bad. In fact, some people enjoy the pungent aroma and flavor of aged Asiago cheese.

The History And Production Of Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese is a traditional cheese of the Asiago Plateau, which has been produced for centuries. The production process has been passed down from generation to generation, with slight variations depending on the type of Asiago cheese being produced.

Fresh Asiago cheese is produced using whole milk, which is heated and then mixed with bovine rennet. The resulting curd is cooked in two phases and then salted, cut, and mixed by hand. The paste is then poured into molds, where it is pressed for a few hours. The cheese wheels are then seasoned for about 20 to 40 days.

Seasoned Asiago cheese, on the other hand, is produced using the milk obtained from two milkings, one of which is skimmed. The curd is broken into fragments using a special instrument known as ‘spino’ and then cooked in two phases. The resulting paste is poured into a special mold and the cheese is immersed in brine for a few days to salt it. The cheese wheels begin an aging process that can last many months.

The production of Asiago cheese is carried out according to strict production guidelines that highlight the repetition of an ancient tradition for the good of the environment, the grazing cattle, and the consumer. Only Asiago cheese produced within a specific area in Italy is considered authentic Asiago DOP.

Asiago cheese has become increasingly popular in countries like Germany, where it has experienced significant growth in sales in recent years. Despite its strong aroma and flavor, Asiago cheese remains a beloved and highly valued product for those who appreciate its unique qualities.

The Different Varieties Of Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese comes in a variety of forms, each with its own unique flavor and texture. The most common type is fresh Asiago, which has a creamy texture with mellow nutty notes. Other forms include pressato, affine, and stravecchio.

Pressato (also known as pressed Asiago) is made using slightly sour milk for a more nuanced flavor profile and can be eaten fresh for added sweetness or aged for a tangier taste. Affine is a more intense savory cheese of Asiago that has been aged at least 10 months to bring out its unique tastes and aromas.

Stravecchio is even stronger but still remains the most popular form of Asiago. There are three types of Asiago: fresh, aged cheese, and extra-aged. Fresh Asiago cheese is made using whole milk, while aged Asiago cheese is made from a mixture of whole and skimmed milk.

Fresh Asiago has a mild, creamy flavor. It is soft in texture and has a white color made from fresh milk. Dolce is a mild cheese with a semi-soft texture and sweet flavor, Mellace is a medium-hard cheese with a creamy texture and nutty flavor, and Vecchio is a hard cheese with an intense flavor and crystallized texture.

Aged Asiago has a sharper flavor than fresh. It is hard cheese in texture and has an off-white color. Mezzano is aged for two weeks and has a semi-hard texture, an intense flavor, and sweetness. Riserva is aged for 8-12 months, resulting in a hard texture and more intense flavor. Stravecchio (pressed Asiago) is aged for over 12 months, producing an intensely flavored cheese with small crystalline grains.

Extra-aged Asiago has the sharpest flavor of the three types of cheese. It is hard in texture and has a yellowish color. Fresco Stravecchio is aged for over 18 months and has a hard texture with small crystalline grains and intensely flavored. Staggio is aged for 24-36 months, resulting in an extremely hard cheese with an incredibly strong flavor. Vecchio Riserva is aged for 36-48 months and has an extremely hard texture with an intense, nutty flavor.

The Aroma And Flavor Profile Of Asiago Cheese

Asiago cheese has a distinct aroma and flavor profile that sets it apart from other cheeses. Fresh Asiago cheese has a delicate and pleasant aroma reminiscent of yogurt and butter. It has a slightly sweet and sour taste with a milky flavor that melts in your mouth. The cheese has small, irregular holes throughout, and a medium texture like a firm sponge cake.

Seasoned Asiago cheese, on the other hand, has a nutty and yeasty aroma with a strong flavor. The aroma is reminiscent of bread or pizza dough, dry hazelnuts, and almonds. As the cheese ages, the flavor becomes more intense and piquant notes develop.

The aging process also affects the texture of the cheese. Fresh Asiago cheese has a soft and elastic feel, while aged Asiago cheese has a compact to firm texture that continues to harden as it ages.

Is The Smell Of Asiago Cheese Normal?

The smell of Asiago cheese is actually normal and expected. It is strongly characterized by its fresh, milky, slightly floral smell, with a sweet and pleasant taste. The aromas are reminiscent of yogurt and butter. Seasoned Asiago cheese has a smell that is reminiscent of bread or pizza dough, dry hazelnuts, and almonds. The rich aroma develops with seasoning and the flavor is enhanced by pleasant and even piquant notes.

It is important to note that the best before date on Asiago cheese is not really an expiry date. It just continues to ripen. Therefore, it is normal for the smell of the cheese to become stronger as it ages. However, if the cheese smells foul or has mold growing all over it, then it has gone bad and should be discarded.

If you are unsure whether your Asiago cheese has gone bad or not, you can check carefully on the surface for any mold patch or dots on it. Touch it to make sure it’s firm, not slimy or sticky. The good Asiago (the well-aged one) should be solid with a little grainy. If you see mold dots went all over the cheese, discard it. If there is only a small area that is infected, you could just cut that part away with a cleaned knife. Make sure it’s at least 1 inch below the area and your knife didn’t cross-contaminate the good part.

Pairing Asiago Cheese With Wine And Other Foods

Asiago cheese is a versatile cheese that pairs well with a variety of wines and foods. When selecting a wine to pair with Asiago cheese, it’s important to consider the flavor of the cheese. The nutty and creamy flavor of Asiago cheese pairs well with both red and white wines.

For red wine, try pairing Asiago cheese with a Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Syrah. These wines have bold and spicy flavors that complement the nutty taste of the cheese. If you prefer white wine, try pairing Asiago cheese with Chardonnay, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc. These wines have a fuller body than many of their counterparts and can stand up to the strong flavor of the cheese.

When it comes to food pairings, Asiago cheese is a versatile cheese that can be used in a variety of dishes. For example, if you’re serving a salad with Asiago cheese crumbles, try pairing it with Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re serving pasta with Asiago sauce, try pairing it with Zinfandel or Syrah.

Asiago cheese also pairs well with fruits, vegetables, meats, and even desserts. For a vegetarian dish, try roasted cauliflower with a cheese sauce made from Asiago. Add toasted flaked almonds for a crunchy topping or even some raisins if you like sweet and savory dishes.

Tips For Storing And Serving Asiago Cheese

To ensure that your Asiago cheese stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible, there are a few tips you can follow for storing and serving it:

1. Store in the fridge: Asiago cheese should always be stored in the refrigerator to prevent it from spoiling. Keep it in the vegetable crisper, where the temperature is cold and stable.

2. Wrap it tightly: To maximize the shelf life of your Asiago cheese after opening, wrap the original packaging tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. For even better results, wrap the cheese first in wax or parchment paper and then cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating.

3. Check the best-by date: Always check the printed best-by date on the packaging to ensure that you’re consuming fresh Asiago cheese.

4. Use fresh paper: Use a fresh piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to rewrap cheese after each use to prevent moisture from getting in and causing mold growth.

5. Grate before freezing: If you plan to freeze your Asiago cheese, grate it first and place it inside an airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag.

6. Serve at room temperature: Before serving Asiago cheese, allow it to come to room temperature for optimal flavor and texture.

By following these tips, you can enjoy your Asiago cheese for longer periods of time while still savoring its delicious aroma and flavor.