Taleggio is a popular Italian cheese, made from full fat cow's milk. Its distinct features are a pink or orange crust and softer inside. Taleggio is so soft it literally melts in your mouth. The reason why the inside is softer than the crust is that this dairy product ages from the outside in. The taste of the cheese is refined and gentle, with a slightly sour tinge. Its aroma is specific but not intrusive in any way. It is one of the few cheeses that has been made for centuries on end.
History of Taleggio
Documents that have survived indicate that the cheese originates from the Taleggio valley in the Bergamo province. This of course is where the name of the cheese comes from. It is believed that around the 10th century, the local population was already familiar with the technique for the preparation of this remarkable product. They used the fresh and full-bodied milk of the cows who arrived tired from the high mountain pastures. Initially, Taleggio was prepared only during the summer but today it is in such high demand that they have begun producing it year-round.
Over the course of time, the method of preparation of this cheese has been refined and today we have a unique cheese, characterized by an orange, rough and flavorful crust, covered with salt. Under it lies a gentle consistency, more dense in the middle yet paste-like on the periphery. The color of the inside can vary from white to light yellow.
Production of Taleggio
As mentioned, to make the cheese they use select full fat milk from cows that have grazed along lush high mountain pastures. The cheese is left to mature in caves at moderate temperature and high humidity. It is these specific conditions that form the crust characteristic of the cheese. It matures sitting on wooden boards. Every week, it is washed with a sponge.
It takes 25-40 days for Taleggio to mature. Because of the conditions in which Taleggio is aged, many have come to call it "cave cheese". The quality of Taleggio is protected by law so that the product cannot be counterfeited. Usually, it is in the shape of a square and weighs about 4.5 lb (2 kg). On the crust, you can see a special seal, consisting of 4 circles containing the letter T, placed by Consorzio Tutela Taleggio. The fat content in it must be no less than 48%.
Selecting and Storing Taleggio
When selecting this type of cheese, mainly look at the crust. It should be dry and not varying in color. The color needs to be evenly distributed all over. It is also good for the crust to be intact because if there are cracks and the cheese is not stored correctly, it may spoil. So when picking out this type of cheese be sure to look at it carefully from all sides.
You can press lightly with your finger, enough to check its elasticity. Cheese that is fit for consumption returns to its original shape even after being pressed. Taleggio should not be stored for too long. If a block of cheese is cut it needs to be used within a few days. Also, any uneaten pieces should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
Cooking with Taleggio
When you taste Taleggio for the first time you will experience many new sensations. All in all, fans of it do not agree on its taste qualities. For example, some say that the flavor of Taleggio reminds them of almonds and even hay. Others say that the taste is comparable to that of cream of asparagus soup. Still others state that a nuance of mushroom can be felt in the cheese, in the taste as well as in the scent.
Taleggio is widely used in cuisine, predominantly in the preparation of different pasta. Normally it is combined with other cheeses, such as Parmesan, Fontina and Gorgonzola. It fits beautifully in pizza and pie recipes. It perfectly complements the taste of vegetables and veal and chicken meat products. Usually it is added at the end of cooking and lightly crisped. Of course, it can be eaten without heat treatment.
In that case, simply cut it into pieces and put it in salads and risotto, suitable for lunch and dinner. A particularly wonderful combination is that of Taleggio, dried tomatoes, black olives and basil. Some love to sweeten the cheese and combine it with pears or honey. It's all a matter of personal preference. Enthusiasts of exquisite alcohol drinks highly appreciate this cheese. They eat it with light wines. If it has been aged, it can be used as an appetizer for stronger alcohol.
Benefits of Taleggio
Taleggio is a dairy product both tasty and healthy. It contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and others. Plus, the cheese is a source of vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, so the consumption is definitely beneficial to our body. Eating Taleggio affects hair growth, skin elasticity and nail firmness. It fuels the body with energy and improves brain function. In addition it fortifies the immune, nervous and digestive systems.See more