Discovering Provolone cheese

Unraveling the Unique Characteristics of Provolone Cheese

Provolone cheese, with its distinct flavor and versatile nature, holds a special place in the heart of cheese connoisseurs. Whether it’s enjoyed melted in a sandwich, diced in a salad, or served with a glass of robust red wine, Provolone presents a remarkable gastronomic experience like no other. Shrouded with a captivating cultural and historical aura, this cheese, native to Southern Italy, is a marvel worth exploring.

The origin of Provolone can be traced to the late 19th Century, in Casilli near Vesuvius, where it was produced using a ‘pasta filata’ method that involves stretching and spinning the curd. Made from cow’s milk, its distinctive qualities are its pear or sausage shape, smooth, hard rind, and creamy yet sharp flavor. The cheese comes in dolce (sweet) or piccante (spicy) varieties, depending on the aging process. Provolone Dolce, aged for two to three months, has a pale yellow to white hue, and a sweet, delicate taste. On the contrary, Provolone Piccante is aged for over four months and develops a deep golden tone and spicy, full-bodied flavor.

Provolone cheese takes its name from ‘prova’ or ‘provola’ which refer to spherical-shaped cheeses produced in Southern Italy. However, its profile has evolved onto a global scale, with regional variations like Provolone Valpadana and Provolone del Monaco obtaining Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status from the European Union.

According to cheese market data, Provolone occupies a significant share in the global cheese industry, especially in Italian export markets. This cheese, with its rich history, captivating journey, and varying flavors, is an integral part of the gastronomic diversity that cheese lovers enjoy around the world.

Testing your Provolone Cheese Knowledge: Are you a cheese connoisseur?

Welcome to our quiz about Provolone Cheese! Ready to test your expertise on this flavorful Italian treasure? Delve deep into the world of cheese making, ageing processes and flavors. Exciting new knowledge awaits you. Start now!

Demystifying the Quality Aspects of Provolone Cheese

Provolone, a classic Italian cheese with myriad expressions of flavor and texture, has been enchanting the taste buds of cheese aficionados for centuries. Being able to understand and recognize the quality traits in Provolone is akin to dissecting an intricate piece of edible artistry and may help discerning consumers navigate the often-overwhelming cheese counter.

Originating from Southern Italy, Provolone is a pasta filata cheese made principally from cow’s milk. It is typically available in two varieties: Provolone Dolce, which is sweet and soft with a mild flavor developed over two to three months of aging, and Provolone Piccante, a sharper version with a robust flavor that intensifies over more extended aging of up to a year. Recognizing quality in this cheese involves considering several characteristics, including its appearance, texture, aroma, and, importantly, the flavor profile.

  • Appearance: High-quality Provolone should have a smooth, waxy rind that ranges in color from pale yellow to a deeper golden hue, depending on its length of aging. The cheese itself should be firm and free from cracks or discoloration.
  • Texture: This cheese should feel dense and smooth when cut, and as it ages, it should become more crumbly. It should not be overly moist or ooze liquid, which indicates it may have been made with too much moisture, affecting its quality and flavor.
  • Aroma: Provolone Dolce typically exudes mild, creamy, and slightly tangy notes. In contrast, Provolone Piccante reveals a more potent aroma redolent of the cellar or cave where it has matured for months.
  • Flavor profile: The flavor is perhaps the most significant indicator of Provolone’s quality. A delicately smoky, faintly sweet flavor characterizes the Dolce version, whereas the Piccante version, with its strong, sharp, and nutty flavor, leaves an enduring impression on the palate.

In essence, recognizing the quality variations in Provolone can amplify your appreciation for this culinary gem. Whether it’s enjoyed alone, in sophisticated preparations or paired with select wines, understanding Provolone’s distinctive traits can elevate your cheese tasting experience to uncharted gastronomic heights.

Unveiling the Rich Flavor and Diverse Varieties of Provolone Cheese

Provolone, a semi-hard to hard cheese that originated in Southern Italy, is a renowned and much-loved offering on charcuterie boards and in a plethora of dishes across the globe. Unlike most cheeses, Provolone does not owe its taste to naturally occurring molds used in curing, but to a keenly tailored method of production. Fresh cow’s milk collected under strict quality control procedures forms the fundamental base for this cheese recipe. Then, after the milk is curdled with calf’s rennet – an enzyme that promotes thickening – it’s cut, kneaded and stretched into its signature pear-shape.

The flavor of Provolone ranges from mild and creamy to sharp and tangy, a variance which relies heavily on the aging process. The shortest maturation period for Provolone is two months, resulting in a mellow tasting Provolone Dolce. Contrastingly, Provolone Piccante is aged for more than four months, and sometimes up to a year, culminating in a piquant and full-bodied flavor. As per the 2018 Yearbook of Italian Dairies, the production of Provolone cheese reached 13,772 tons, of which 11,867 tons were Provolone Valpadana – a true testament to its widespread popularity.

Diverse varieties of Provolone cheese are not limited to flavor profiles. Shapes and sizes vary significantly, from short and long forms, to large smoked cylinders. More intriguingly, skilled cheese artisans shape Provolone into a myriad of creative motifs like salamis, pigs, and pineapples. These visually captivating versions can weigh from a mere half-kilogram to a substantial 100 kilograms. With a colorful tapestry of flavors, diverse structural forms, and fascinating production methods, Provolone cheese represents a journey into a centuries-old gastronomic tradition that never ceases to charm cheese lovers around the world.

Facts and figures

  • Italy, the home of Provolone cheese, produces around 11.7 millions of tons of cheese every year.
  • Among the variety of Italian cheese produced, Provolone forms a significant portion.
  • There are two main types of Provolone cheese, each with unique nuances in taste.
  • Provolone, like many Italian cheeses, is classified under DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta), a scheme that ensures products are locally grown and packaged.
  • Recipe-wise, Provolone cheese is a popular choice in Italian casseroles, pizzas, sandwiches and even in salads.
  • In 2018, US imported around 46.5 million kilos of Italian cheese with Provolone making up a substantial share.
  • On average, Provolone cheese is aged for a period between 3 months to over a year based on the type.

Unlocking Provolone: From Production to Palate

Provolone, a well-loved staple of many a cheeseboard, owes its unique character to its specific regions of production, with Italy being its main homeland. This semi-hard, full-fat cow’s milk cheese’s distinctive flavor and texture are the product not just of techniques passed down through generations, but also of the specific landscapes and microclimates in which it is crafted.

Traditionally, Provolone cheese is produced in two main regions in Italy – Lombardy and Veneto. Lombardy, particularly the Po river valley, is noted for the production of Provolone Dolce, which has a mild, buttery flavor obtained by a two to three months aging process. The volcanic soil in Veneto, on the other hand, gives rise to Provolone Piccante, with a sharp taste that intensifies over a more extended aging process of more than four months. The Po river valley and the fertile plains in Veneto provide an ideal environment for the native Italian breed of cattle, like the Piedmontese breed, supplying the high-quality milk necessary for Provolone production.

Provolone’s production involves a meticulous and labor-intensive process that significantly contributes to the cheese’s quality. The milk is warmed and combined with rennet to create curds, which are then cut, heated, and kneaded until they reach the desired consistency. The curd is then molded into classic shapes, such as a pear or sausage, and often finished off with a raffia hat or packed into a cloth sack for aging. Aging in controlled environments provides the ideal moisture and temperature conditions for the cheese to develop its distinctive character. The smooth, yellow to brown rind that envelopes Provolone is a testament to the craftsmanship applied during its creation.

  • Provolone Dolce from Lombardy, marked by a sweeter and softer taste due to shorter aging
  • Provolone Piccante from Veneto, known for its spicy and robust flavor profile which is the result of extended aging

Both regional variants present the gourmand with distinctly Italian experiences, reflecting the landscapes, regional traditions, and artisanship of their respective localities in every bite.

Unveiling the Best Ways to Enjoy Provolone Cheese

Provolone, an Italian cheese known for its distinctive taste and texture, was initially a part of the pasta filata family and has now evolved into one of the world’s most beloved cheeses. This semi-hard cheese is renowned for its full, creamy flavor, and pliable, smooth texture that pleasantly gives way to a versatile culinary experience.

One of the best ways to enjoy Provolone is at room temperature, where it can release its full-bodied aroma and flavor. Simply remove the cheese from the refrigerator approximately an hour before serving to let it breathe and inch closer to its optimal temperature. Then, place a chunk inside a cheese dome or under a glass cover to trap the aromas so that they can be released when unveiling the cheese to your guests. To appreciate the full flavor spectrum of Provolone, it is advisable to consume it in small bites.

Another preferable way to relish Provolone is by incorporating it into various dishes. With its amazing melting properties, the cheese becomes an excellent topping for pizza, where it lends a delicately tangy note to the rich tomato base. It can also be used to amp up your sandwich by pairing it with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil, or melted over crispy bread in a lavish cheese toastie. Furthermore, for an exceptional culinary adventure, Provolone can be paired with a glass of full-bodied red wine like Nebbiolo or a light-bodied white wine like Vermentino. This combination enhances the palate’s nuance.

  • Room temperature Provolone to release its full-bodied aroma and flavor.
  • Melted Provolone as an excellent pizza topping.
  • Provolone in a sandwich or melted over crispy bread.
  • Provolone paired with a full-bodied red or light-bodied white wine.

Understanding the ideal ways to enjoy Provolone can act as a gateway to indulging in its captivating sensory appeal. Whether tasted in solitude or shared within a gathering, Provolone cheese’s universal allure always shines through.

Proper Storage of Provolone Cheese for Optimum Quality

The quality and shelf-life of Provolone cheese, an all-time favorite Italian cheese, can see a significant improvement when stored properly. This semi-hard cheese is renowned for its versatility in culinary use – splendid both on its gritty own or melted in a sandwich. Yet when it comes to preserving this dairy delight, certain principles need to be followed to maintain its rich, sharp flavor and smooth texture.

First and foremost, avoid storing Provolone, or any cheese for that matter, in plastic bags or clingfilms. While these might seem like convenient options, they actually accelerate the growth of bacteria and mold by trapping in moisture, something that cheeses are very susceptible to. Instead, invest in cheese paper, a special type of two-ply paper that keeps the cheese breathing while maintaining the required moisture level. If cheese paper isn’t available, parchment or wax paper will do perfectly well. You’ll notice that its vibrant taste and tangy undertones are much better preserved by simply switching the storage material.

  • Keep the cheese in the coolest part of your refrigerator, typically the vegetable drawer, where the temperature is most stable. Changes in temperature can affect the cheese’s aging process.
  • Use a fresh piece of paper every time you unwrap the cheese. Reusing the same paper can lead to bacterial contamination.
  • If the cheese develops mould, don’t panic. Just cut off about an inch around and below the mould spot, being careful not to touch the mould with the knife.

While Provolone, typically aged for two to three months, can be stored for several weeks in proper conditions, it’s wise to consume it within a week or two after purchase for the best flavor. Storing your Provolone cheese properly doesn’t just extend the shelf-life; it also ensures that every bite provides the delightful sensory experience that cheese enthusiasts crave.

Decoding the Art of Pairing Wine with Provolone Cheese

Provolone, an iconic product of Italy, brings a range of delectable flavors that can vary from mild to sharp, depending on its aging process. Characteristically, provolone has a firm texture and a pale, buttery hue that pairs exceptionally well with a host of fine wines. Being able to select the perfect wine to balance Provolone’s strong bite can enhance your dining experience to new heights.

The primary strength of Provolone lies in its versatility. When it has been lightly aged and retains a sweet flavor, a full-bodied white wine, like an oaked Chardonnay, is an excellent choice. The strong buttery undertones and tropical fruit flavors of these wines responds well to the softer, delicate tastes of mild Provolone, rounding off the edges with its smooth finish. Italian whites such as Trebbiano, Verdicchio, or even a Soave can also offer pleasing companionship to the gentler side of Provolone’s spectrum.

Alternatively, if you’re savoring a piece of sharper, well-aged Provolone, which can often present a robust, tangy bite, nothing pairs better than built-bodied red wines. Italian reds, such as Barolo and Brunello, not only bring a sense of geographic congruence but also provide firm tannins, deep fruit nuances, and a warming alcohol touch. These full-bodied reds compliment the assertive, nutty elements of the aged Provolone, offering a rich mouthfeel that stands up to the cheese’s intensity.

  • Light, sweet Provolone: Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Soave
  • Well-aged, robust Provolone: Barolo, Brunello

Remember, the best pairings come from experimentation and personal preference. So, explore these options, adjust to your palette, and create the most impressive cheese and wine pairings.

About the author: Dr. Wolfgang Sender is a cheese lover from Germany. Having lived abroad for many years he contributes to this site with passion.

Delightful Pairings for Provolone Cheese

Provolone cheese, with its two types – mild Provolone Dolce and sharper, Provolone Picante, brings a uniquely robust flavor profile to the gastronomic table. Originating from southern Italy and now widely popular internationally, the semi-hard, cow milk cheese is beloved for its versatility in cooking and ability to harmonize effortlessly with a wide variety of foods and beverages.

In terms of culinary use, the smooth texture and pliable consistency of Provolone allow for seamless integration into various recipes. It melts well for casseroles or gourmet pizzas, and when sliced, it adds depth to sandwiches or burgers. However, Provolone also shines on a well-curated cheese board. Here’s a streamlined list of riveting pairings for a cheese board coupled with this Italian delight:

  • Charcuterie: Provolone’s umami and slightly sharp flavor go well with salumi like Prosciutto di Parma or spicy Soppressata. The combination offers an explosion of flavors that transport your palate to Italy.
  • Fruits and Nuts: Sweet elements such as figs, pears or honey-crusted walnuts balance the savory nature of Provolone, bringing forward its subtle sweet undertones.
  • Bread and Crackers: A hearty, crusty bread or neutral flavored crackers provide a texture contrast and let the flavor of the cheese take center stage.

Just as important to consider are the beverage pairings that amplify the taste of Provolone. A full-bodied red wine like Chianti or a crisp, apple-cider balances the strong flavors of the Provolone Picante well. For the milder, creamier Provolone Dolce, white wines such as Pinot Gris or a light Italian lager beer would make a splendid pairing.

Provolone cheese, whether savored on its own or incorporated into a dish, promises a delightful dining experience. And making a conscious effort to pair it with foods and beverages that play up its strengths will enhance the gastronomic journey this unique cheese offers.

Unveiling the Rich Saga of Provolone Cheese

Originating in Southern Italy and savored worldwide today, Provolone cheese represents an intriguing historical gastronomy that expands over several centuries – a laudable testament to Italy’s timeless cheesemaking tradition. Provolone presents two primary types: Provolone Dolce and Provolone Piccante. While the Dolce version is smooth and mild thanks to a maturation period of 2-3 months, the Piccante variety undergoes aging for over four months, lending it a sharp, piquant flavor.

The illustrious journey of Provolone’s creation starts with full-fat cow’s milk collected and combined with rennet, a natural enzyme complex usually used in cheese production. The curdling milk is then shaped into its unique pear-like shape, followed by a curing process with brine. After this, it is hung up in aging rooms to mature. An interesting fact to note is that the length of Provolone’s aging process determines its final flavor profile and texture. Shorter aging results in a soft, creamy cheese, whereas longer maturation yields a hard, tangy cheese. Among the various shapes Provolone is shaped into, the most famous is the ‘Provolone Mandarino’, a huge cheese ball of about 100 kg.

The demand for Provolone is enormous around the globe, with numerous cheese aficionados relishing its dynamic range of flavors. Its taste ranges from buttery and smokey if it’s Dolce to full-bodied, strong, and tangy if it’s Piccante. Provolone’s versatility makes it a star in several culinary applications, either melted into sandwiches, baked into dishes, or served with olives and cured meats. Furthermore, the cheese boasts a respectable nutrition profile, featuring hefty amounts of proteins, calcium, and essential vitamins. However, moderation is advised due to its high cyclic calorie and sodium content.

  • Origin: Southern Italy
  • Primary Ingredients: Full-fat Cow’s Milk, Rennet
  • Popular Types: Provolone Dolce, Provolone Piccante
  • Nutrition: High in Proteins, Calcium, and Vitamins; High Caloric and Sodium Content

Whether sliced thin onto a fresh roll or melted into an Americanized Philly cheesesteak, Provolone adds an Italian flair that elevates even the most basic recipes. It is an emblem of the enduring legacy of Italian cheesemaking, a testament to culinary export that is loved worldwide. The history and story of Provolone cheese are as captivating as its flavors, reflecting the craftsmanship and dedication of generations of cheesemakers.

Exploring the Aged Delights of Provolone-Like Cheeses

If there’s one thing experienced cheese aficionados can agree on, it’s the distinct allure of Provolone. This Italian cheese, belonging to the pasta filata family, features a piquant flavor profile that intensifies with age. Crafted from cow’s milk, Provolone offers a varied taste journey, transitioning from a mild, creamy flavor when young to a full-bodied, robust taste when aged. But the world of cheese doesn’t end here. There exists a curated gallery of cheeses bearing an uncanny resemblance in flavor and texture to Provolone.

Let’s set sails on an exploration of these similar cheeses, each offering a unique twist on the Provolone experience. First on the list is Mozzarella, also from the pasta filata family. In its fresh form, it shares the mild, creamy taste and elastic texture of young Provolone. However, an aged version called ‘Low-Moisture Mozzarella’ acquires a more savory flavor and firmer texture, akin to aged Provolone.

  • Asiago: Asiago cheese, originating in the Italian Alps, is another glamorous cousin of Provolone. Young Asiago, also known as ‘Asiago Pressato’, is sweet and creamy, whereas mature Asiago (‘Asiago d’allevo’) develops a firm texture with a tangy, robust flavor profile.

Next is the versatile Irish Cheddar, projectively more akin to the intensely flavored, aged Provolone. Sporting a firm texture, Cheddar features an upfront sharpness with subtle savory undertones, echoing the experience of well-aged Provolone. Lastly, meet Gouda, a Dutch masterpiece. When aged, it showcases a crumbly texture and intense flavor, characterized by a balance of sweetness, nuttiness, and saltiness, reminiscent of the taste excursion presented by mature Provolone.

Delving into the unique universe of cheeses similar to Provolone provides an expanded perspective on the depth and versatility of cheese flavor profiles. While Provolone presents a captivating gastronomic adventure on its own, the cheeses sharing its character amplify the pleasure manifold for cheese enthusiasts.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Scroll to Top