Cheese can be just as complex and sophisticated as any wine – The more you know, the better your selection will be. This article is an introduction to two of the most popular types of Italian cheese: mozzarella and Asiago.
Mozzarella is simple, fresh, and mild in flavor; it melts well for pizzas or sandwiches. Asiago has a rich taste with hints of nut; it’s often grated on salads or served crumbled over pasta dishes.
Which one do you prefer? Read on to find out which type might suit your tastes best!
Are they the same?
Mozzarella and Asiago are two different types of cheese. Mozzarella is a type of fresh cheese made mainly from cow’s or buffalo’s milk, some varients also use goat’s and sheep’s milk. While Asiago is an aged cheese made almost exclusively from cow’s milk.
Mozzarella is a soft and stretchy cheese while Asiago has a smoother and crumblier texture. Mozzarella is younger than Asiago and has a milder flavor.
Flavor Profile and Feature
Both of these cheeses are popular in Italian cuisine, but they have different flavors and textures. Mozzarella is a pulled-curd cheese under the pasta filata family, which is closer to provolone (read comparison). Asiago is an alpine Swiss-style cheese and is closer to Swiss cheese.
Mozzarella is a fresh (or barely aged) cheese with a mild, acidic, and milky flavor. While Asiago is an aged cheese with a richer, nutty, creamy taste.
Thanks to the pasta filata technique of “plasticizing” the curd, Mozzarella is much softer and stretchier, it melts just right for an iconic cheese pull. While Asiago has a firmer consistency, lower moisture, and good nice gratable/shreddable characteristic for a wide range of uses in cooking.
Mozzarella is milky white to ivory color, and Asiago is in between straw to golden brown depending on the age.
Both cheeses originated in Italy – Mozzarella started in the south-western region namely Naples, while Asiago in the northern alpine areas of Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige region.
The production for these two cheeses are different, you can read how asiago is made here, below I’ll just list out the main points:
- Both of these cheese “cooked” the curd. However, asiago cooked at 45-49 °C (or 113-120°F) while mozzarella immersed the curd at a much higher temperature of 95 °C (or 203°F) (1). Following that, the mozzarella curd is kneaded and stretched until the right consistency.
- Asiago cheese has to be aged for a minimum of 20 days. Mozzarella is best served as soon as possible (2).
- An additional step for Asiago Pressato, or pressed asiago, will have to be hydraulically pressed for a few hours.
The Serve and Use
Both of these cheeses are used in different ways. Mozzarella is most often used as a pizza cheese or in sandwiches, while asiago is often grated on salads or served with pasta dishes.
Mozzarella is also a popular cheese for making lasagna. Asiago shared the characteristics of Swiss cheese and can also be melted and used for fondue.
Both of these cheeses are high in calcium and protein, and mozzarella is also a good source of vitamin B12.