An ancient cheese that has been around since early Roman times and has probably changed very little over the centuries. Named after the caves of Val Taleggio where it was traditionally made, this smear-ripened cheese balances a pungent aroma against a mild taste with an unusual fruity tang and a relatively high fat content.
The cheese has been granted a European Union PDO designation to ensure its traditions are protected and maintained.
Made from pasteurised cows’ milk that has been acidified, it is stored on wooden shelves in chambers or caves and allowed to mature for around 6-10 weeks. Throughout the process, the cheese is washed with a seawater sponge once a week to stop mould infestation and prevent the cheese forming an orange or rose crust. In recent times, some cheesemakers have begun to add spices, raisins, nuts and even lemons to create a ‘brighter’ flavour profile.
It’s a wonderfully rustic cheese that also melts well and tastes brilliant grated onto radicchio and rucola salads.
Because it is such a strong smelling cheese, try to buy Taleggio only in small quantities that you can use straight away. Washed rind cheeses tend to dry out and crack and even if carefully wrapped in waxy paper and sealed in an airtight container, the smell can permeate your fridge.