Cheesepalooza #6 Asiago
Six months in and now we are getting serious. I have been putting off writing this post as I thought I was going to be writing a post of doom, gloom and disaster. But yesterday I finally plucked up the courage to taste my Asiago and it took me by surprise. It was not the disaster it was supposed to be. Instead, I am left with surprisingly crumbly, but tasty Italian style cheese.
I have been longingly admiring this section of the cheese book for a while. This type of cheese involves a different type of starter and a slightly different process. I was super keen to jump right in, which meant I didn’t have time to read any other posts before taking the plunge.
Had I waited another 24 hours (the perils of being ahead of time from my fellow participants) I would have learnt a few invaluable lessons from Ian that would have made this process less painful. Although I often write about the trials and tribulations of home cheese making, I have been pretty successful in the last year.
This was the first cheese I thought I was going to have to bin. I tried to take Mary’s advice and use some goat’s milk in the mix. Although I tried to adjust the amount of rennet to ensure I got some curd, I underestimated and had to add the same amount again. It finally set, but the curds were very weak. I just about managed to press it, but I haven’t dared to try this crumbly looking cheese as yet due to the fear of a bitter result from the excessive amount of rennet.
Not happy with my first effort, I started again following the recipe to the letter. This time I achieved that clean break, and thought it was going to plan, until I started to press. By this time I had read that all important post from Ian recommending that we soak the cheesecloth but promptly forgotten this is what I should have done.
Mid way through the pressing, the sort after information was remembered. As I carefully unwrapped the cheese, it did exactly what Ian said it would and stuck to the cheesecloth. I just managed to rescue enough, and re-press in my whey soaked cheesecloth.
And then there was the cracking. I thought I had pressed sufficiently, but after brining the cheese developed some Grand Canyon like cracks. Further research revealed I should have added a little whey to the brine to make it more acidic, thus not shocking the cheese into cracking.
What a frustrating process. I had vowed it was one not to be repeated… until yesterday.
Asiago can be eaten young, like a Pecorino or aged to become more like a Parmesan. I was not looking forward to the taste test. I thought I would have to cook with this cheese to get rid of it. How wrong I was. I cracked into a small piece the other day to use in a Carbonara. To my surprise it was exactly as the book described. A beautifully, crumbly, young Italian style cheese. Despite the stress, I did it. I said never again but with the lessons learnt from my Cheesepalooza community I think I can succeed with this cheese.