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What Is Taleggio Cheese?

Taleggio cheese is made from cow's milk.
Raisins are sometimes added to taleggio cheese to add flavor and texture.
Taleggio cheese is traditionally made with raw, whole cow's milk.
Taleggio cheese pairs well with many red wines.
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  • Written By: Tracey Parece
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
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Taleggio cheese is a mild cheese that comes from the Lombardy region of Italy and has a deceptively pungent and tangy aroma. Also known as Stracchino di Milano or stracchino, this cheese is made from cow's milk and has a thin salted crust. Traditionally, taleggio is aged on wooden planks in caves for six to ten weeks. To promote the growth of mold and prevent discoloration of the cheese, it is washed weekly with a seawater sponge.

Traditional taleggio cheese is made with raw, whole cow's milk. Taleggio cheese made with unpasteurized milk is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and cannot be imported into the United States. Modern taleggio cheese is made with pasteurized milk in factories and aged in cellars. This process lends a brighter color to the finished product. Other ingredients, such as spices, nuts, and raisins, are sometimes used to add flavor and texture to the cheese. It has an extremely high fat content that approaches 50 percent.

Taleggio cheese is widely considered to be one of the world's oldest soft cheeses and dates to before the 10th century A.D. The cheese melts smoothly and easily and has been commonly referred to as salty, fruity, mellow, creamy, and even stinky. It has a washed rind with a reddish-orange color and becomes softer the longer it ages. Its flavor and color also deepen as it ages. Once the cheese is cut, the aging process will cease.

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Wines that pair well with taleggio cheese include Italian Nebbiolo wines, Merlot, Riesling, and Sauternes. Other appropriate wine pairings are Barolo, Soave, Chianti Riserva, or Barbaresco. Many people enjoy it spread on crusty Italian bread, paired with fruit, or melted on pasta. It can also be used in salads, bruschetta, polenta, and risotto.

The name taleggio comes from the Val Taleggio — an alpine valley in the Italian region of Lombardy. Val Taleggio is shared between the provinces of Bergamo and Lecco. It is well known for its cow's-milk cheeses, such as taleggio cheese.

There are variations in the preparation of taleggio cheese. When the rind is covered with mold, patches of green or gray mold may be seen on it. These patches of mold are commonly called bloom. Instead of encouraging mold to grow on the rind by washing it with a seawater sponge, the cheese can be coated in wax. The most common shapes for this cheese are rectangles and squares.

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Discuss this Article

GlassAxe
Post 4

One of my favorite Italian soft cheeses is Mascarpone. My wife has a recipe for the best tiramisu. What makes it so special is the dark chocolate espresso Mascarpone cheese she uses. The cheese is delicate, smoky and sweet, and it plays very well with the other subtle flavors in Tiramisu. I look forward to holidays because I know she is going to whip up her famous Tiramisu.

Georgesplane
Post 3

I once went to a Mediterranean tapas bar and had a cheese plate that had one cheese in particular that I cannot recall the name of. The cheese was a Spanish blue that had undertones of chocolate. The rind was a pale brown. It reminded me of a Valdeon, but not as intense. It was definitely a stinky cheese, likely only cave aged 20 to 30 days or so. It might have had a slight citrus tone as well.

The cheese had a uniqueness to it much like a fine Ethiopian Yirgachaffee brings to a cup of coffee. Spicy fruity, chocolatey, and in the case of the cheese creamy and grainy at the same time. Someone please help me figure out what kind of cheese this is. I think it is a Goat cheese, maybe a cow and goat cheese mix.

Fiorite
Post 2

@PelesTears- I love a good cheese. I recently bought a little raw milk Taleggio from a specialty cheese shop in Brooklyn that was great. I would say the taste was a little different from what you described, but it had mushrooms added to it, likely changing the flavor. Honestly, the cheese was more savory in my opinion, tasting somewhat like beef stroganoff-I think it was the mushrooms. You are right that the cheese is mild, but it smells like the stinkiest cheese you can find. This is probably what elicits the pungent flavor from people. I think it would be great melted on a white pizza pie and served with a nice pilsner.

PelesTears
Post 1

My Grandmother lives in Switzerland so when my mother goes to visit she is always bringing back European treats that the FDA would throw a fit over (personally, I do not see the big deal). Last time she went was for my grandmother's birthday around Easter, and she brought back those candy eggs with the toys inside and some Italian Taleggio cheese. We had a great Easter brunch of poached eggs, smoked salmon, a little caviar, toast points, and crusty bread with Taleggio and quince. My two year old even ate one of the chocolate eggs without choking to death on the toy inside (dark sarcasm).

The cheese is a great combination of pungent (by American standards), fruity, and rich. If any cheese lover ever happens to run across a good specimen of this cheese, it is definitely worth the money.

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