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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.

Nic Cooks Asiago-3This 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.

Nic Cooks Asiago-1Mid 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.

Nic Cooks Asiago-5And 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.

Nic Cooks Asiago-4Asiago 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.






Comment from Ian
Time January 31, 2013 at 11:22 pm

I like how you rescued the cheese. It looks great. I just ordered some “Ply-ban” cheese cloth. It is plastic and supposedly the cheese will not stick to it. I love the first picture and the darkeness of some of your cheeses. Keep up the good work.

Comment from Claire @ Claire K Creations
Time February 1, 2013 at 6:31 am

Well if it tastes anywhere near as good as it looks then it seems you have succeeded Nic! How exciting to be making your own cheese.

Pingback from Asiago and Asiago Pepita: Cheesepalooza Challenge Six Round up
Time February 1, 2013 at 11:28 am

[…] at Nic Cooks from Australia has made an incredible looking asiago! I usually read all of the post before or as I […]

Comment from muppy
Time February 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm

it looks amazing Nic, i think you are a genius (and just dont know it!)

Comment from Christina @ The Hungry Australian
Time February 4, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Well done, Nic. Making cheese is not easy so I take my hat off to you!

Comment from Nic@diningwithastud
Time February 27, 2013 at 7:58 am

Nic it looks SO great! You need to open a deli with your awesome cheese and meat skills :) I’d buy your stuff for sure! Not the meat of course 😉 haha

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