Or better, Is asiago a good melting cheese?
Many cheese are excellent and known as good creamy melters, such as American cheese, fontina, gouda, cheddar, brie, Colby, and more, which perfect as toppings or ingredients in dishes. Yes, Asiago does melt. Asiago is a semi-hard cheese made of partially skimmed cow milk, curdled with rennet and acid, and all these give a fair meltability. Not the best one for sure like the American cheese, but asiago certainly gives a satisfying ooze too.
The reason of why some cheese doesn’t melt [that well] is because of these 4 main criteria – moist, fat content, age, acidity. For the science of it, you can read this article.
Asiago is produced using the similar method to parmesan, they both melts well. You can read more in my previous article where I covered asiago vs parmesan in a detail table.
The Younger Asiago Melts Better
The younger or fresh asiago (<6 months) tend to have a higher moisture than the aged one (some aged for 18 months or more), and ideally fresh asiago always melts better. The same goes for parmesan cheese, where some of them may even aged for over 36 months. Tiny bits white spots of crystallisation happen the longer it kept, it slow down the melting. Too, the protein structure get clumped more tightly as we aged them, creating a tight barrier to prevent it to melt well.
The common asiago is made of partially skimmed milk (mixed with whole milk), it means that the fat content is actually lowered. The lower the fat content, the lesser the space between the casein protein, resulting in a more rigid or harder cheese that’s intended to store for a longer period of time like parmesan or asiago, but at the same time, the poorer the melting properties will be.
It may also depend on different varieties of asiago and production for each brand, some prefer to use whole milk instead – thus a better meltability.
Interestingly, the fat content may positively affected by the pasteurisation or homogenisation of milk, which according to the study (1), produced a higher viscosity cheese.
People reported that if only acid were used in making the asiago cheese (homemade) without the rennet, it will not melt well, or at all. Asiago is made with added rennet and acid to help the milk curled. In acid-set cheese without the rennet, the protein casein will not aggregate well due to the present of casein hairs, so it will not give the desired melting action when heated. For detail, please check my previous article (with pictures) and scroll to the lower part.