Taleggio is a traditional semi-soft or soft Italian cheese made with cow’s whole milk. The milk can be either raw or pasteurized; however, large commercial manufacturers tend to opt for the latter. Taleggio is one of the oldest Italian cheeses, with its earliest version being produced in Val Taleggio (Lombardy) in Roman times.
It’s a washed-rind and smear-ripened cheese, meaning it’s brined and treated with mold-bearing agents. Indeed, Taleggio is covered with a thin, coarse crust of either pink or orange color that’s often threaded with gray and green molding. However, the interior itself is supposed to be mold-free and bone white or pale yellow in color.
Its washed rind is the reason behind Taleggio’s intense aroma, setting it apart from other soft Italian cheeses like Mozzarella or Ricotta. Its flavor is also more complex and robust, primarily nutty and fruity, with richly creamy, buttery undertones and a slightly tart aftertaste.
Taleggio has been granted Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (DOP) status in Italy, the equivalent of Protected Designation of Origin (POD) in the EU, which means authentic Taleggio can only be produced in certain specifically designated areas. Until 1800 it was produced exclusively in Lombardy, but nowadays, certain areas of Veneto and Piedmont regions are also allowed to make Taleggio.