Or better, Is asiago a good melting cheese?
Many cheeses are known to melt well, such as American cheese, Colby, fontina, gouda, cheddar, brie, and more. They make your dish goes from wow, to woooohh and is ready for another Instagram posting.
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 satisfying oozes too.
The reason why some cheese don’t melt [that well] is because of these 4 main criteriums – moisture, fat content, age, acidity. For the sake of science, please read this article.
Asiago is produced similar to parmesan, and they both melts well. You can read more in my previous article where I covered asiago vs parmesan in 99% details (what’s the 1% lacking is your presence).
The Younger Asiago Melts Better
The young or fresh asiago, which typically less than 6 months old, tends to have a higher moisture than the aged one (some aged for over 18 months) and thus always melts better.
The same goes for the parmesan cheese where some may even aged for over 36 months and counting. You may notice there’s tiny bits white spots of crystallization happening on the cheese as the longer the cheese being aged, where that would drastically slowing down the cheese meltability. That’s because of the protein structure get clumped more tightly together as we aged them, creating a tight barrier to prevent the cheese to melt well.
Also, the normal asiago cheese you bought is made of partially skimmed-milk (mixed with whole milk), it means that the fat content is largely reduced. The lower the fat content, the lesser the gaps between the casein protein molecules, resulting in a more rigid or harden cheese that’s intended to store for a longer period of time like parmesan or asiago, but at the same time, making the cheese not as “melt-able”.
How meltable of an asiago cheese may also depending on different varieties of asiago and the production method for each brands. Some brands prefer to use the whole cow milk instead – thus a better meltability.
Interestingly, the fat content may positively affected by the pasteurization (or homogenization) when heating the milk, which according to this study (1), produced a higher viscosity of cheese. To put it in English, the fat globules are more scattered evenly throughout the milk, resulted in a thicken but more melt-able cheese.
People also saying that if the acid were the only used in making the asiago cheese (homemade) skipping the rennet, it will not melt that well, or at all.
I didn’t try that before, but here is my reasoning – asiago cheese is normally made with rennet and acid to help curling the milk. By skipping the rennet, protein casein molecules will not aggregate well due to the hair-like structure presence on its surface, think about it like when you want to hug somebody but your arms are sticking out to keep them away from you. Hmm… you got the idea. So, it will not give you the desired cheesy oozes when heated. For science freak, please check my previous article here (with pictures) and scroll down to the lower part.