Sunday, June 4, 2017

How Are Asiago And Parmesan Cheeses Different?

While some cheeses are clearly different from each other, others look very similar and can be nearly impossible to tell apart. Others will taste very similar with differences that only well-trained taste buds will notice. Asiago and Parmesan are two cheeses that look very similar, also resembling Romano. These are also all Italian cheeses, meaning that they have some elements of shared history.
Asiago is a type of cheese made from cow’s milk and it comes from the northeastern area of Italy. Most cheese experts consider it an Alpine or mountain cheese. Depending on the aging process, Asiago can vary greatly in terms of flavor. When it is fresh, the cheese is known as Asiago Pressato and is mild flavored and semi-soft. When aged, it is called Asiago D’Allevo and as it is aged longer, it becomes sharper, dryer, and firmer. There tend to be three categories of aging for Asiago cheese where it is aged two months, three months, or a minimum of nine months. Regardless of aging, Asiago tends to be nutty and sweet. Younger Asiago is delicious by itself while aged Asiago has more intense flavors that make it great when grated on salad, pasta, or risotto.
The cheese you typically refer to as Parmesan is typically actually Parmigiano Reggiano. While not all Parmesan will be Parmigiano Reggiano, all Parmesan Reggiano is a type of Parmesan. This is also a cheese made from cow’s milk but instead of being from Northeastern Italy, it is from Northern Italy, specifically the Reggio Emilia or Parma regions. Parmigiano Reggiano has a nutty, rich flavor and a flaky texture that separates it from Asiago. It has always been aged between one to two years. It works well on a variety of dishes, including many of those that Asiago enhances, such as risotto and pasta.
Within the regions it is produced in, Parmesan has very strict regulations that ensure it is made following tradition, including the milk being heated in copper kettles and cheesemakers needing at least ten years of apprenticeships. Within the entire European Union, you can’t legally call cheese Parmesan if it isn’t Parmigiano Reggiano. You can use the term Parmesan for other cheeses in countries outside the European Union, so don’t expect the traditional cheese all the time in the United States.
Whether you are interested in Asiago or Parmesan, you should try your best to get an authentic version for the richest flavors. Although the United States doesn’t have as strict of requirements, you can still find imported cheeses or at least those that have been stamped to indicate they meet some standard.

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