Asiago Stagionato PDO
Protected Designation of Origin since 1996
- Average weight of a wheel: 9 Kg
- Diameter: 30-36 cm
- Height: 9-12 cm
- Stagionato: from 2 to 4 months
- Mezzano: from 4 to 10 months
- Vecchio: over 10 months
- Stravecchio: over 15 months
The ageing of Asiago Stagionato requires at least two months and must take place in the area of origin under conditions of controlled storage temperature and relative humidity. On the basis of the degree of ageing the cheese is called:
- Asiago Stagionato mezzano, aged for between 4 and 6 months: a full but still mild flavor;
- Asiago Stagionato vecchio, aged for 10-15 months: a shaper, slightly piquant flavor;
- Asiago Stagionato stravecchio, aged for over 15 months: intense, rich flavors.
A flavorsome cheese has been produced on the Asiago Plateau from which it takes its name since the year 1000. Initially sheep’s milk was used, but from 1500, with the progressive expansion of cattle farming on the plateau, the primary ingredient has been exclusively cow’s milk. As cheesemaking techniques developed, production expanded in the early 17th Century to the areas adjacent to the Asiago Plateau: the area at the foot of the mountains, the neighboring plains and the close-by malghe or mountain pastures of the Trentino region. The Asiago with the oldest roots, closest to the traditions of the cheesemakers of the plateau is the Stagionato version with its more intense, enveloping flavor. The mild, soft flavor of this cheese has helped its international popularity.
Asiago Stagionato is produced in an area that ranges from the irrigated flatlands of the Padana plain to the mountain pastures of the Asiago Plateau and the Trentino region. The milk production and Asiago PDO cheesemaking area comprises four provinces: Vicenza, Trento and parts of Padua and Treviso. This represents the area in which Asiago cheese was originally made, the Asiago Plateau and surrounding districts in which production of the cheese is widespread. Asiago cheese produced with farmhouse milk entirely processed at an altitude of over 600 metres may also be promoted as a “Mountain Product”.
Only Asiago cheese produced in this area is authentic Asiago PDO cheese.
Partially skimmed cow’s milk obtained by separation is used to produce Asiago Stagionato cheese. Coagulation is achieved with the addition of an enzyme of bovine origin, rennet, at a temperature of around 35° C.
Cutting of the curd
A spino or curd knife is used to cut the curd. The process continues until the curd is reduced to grains of a size similar to a hazelnut.
In the scalding phase, the curd is heated to a temperature of around 47° C.
Extraction of the curd
The curd is transferred to a work bench.
Molding and binding
The next stage in the process involves the molding and binding of the wheels and the application of casein plaques identifying each wheel with a progressive number.
After a number of hours, the wheels are turned over and branding molds are used to impress the Asiago PDO mark on the sides.
Cooling and salting
The cheese is kept for at least two days under controlled temperature (10-15° C) and humidity (80-85%) conditions before dry or brine salting is completed.
Ageing is the final phase in the process and requires at least two months and must take place in the area of origin in conditions of controlled temperature and relative humidity. On the basis of the degree of ageing the cheese is called Asiago Stagionato mezzano, Asiago Stagionato vecchio or Asiago Stagionato stravecchio.