All About Provolone Cheese

Add provolone cheese to your meals for a creamy, nutty, and slightly tangy punch. Read on to learn more about this classic Italian artisanal cheese, and how to use it in a myriad of delicious dishes.

What is Provolone Cheese?

Provolone, the semi-hard, aged, and rich Italian cheese is best known for its unique creaminess and smooth texture. Provolone cheese comes in many different shapes including pear, sausage, or spherical. The size of this Italian cheese ranges from 4 to 6 inches lengthwise. Provolone comes in two different varieties including provolone piccante and provolone dolce. Dolce is a mild-flavored cheese that’s aged from two to three months. Piccante, on the other hand, offers a strong flavor as it’s aged for about six months to a year. 

History of Provolone Cheese

The origin of this classic cheese dates back to the 19th century, where it was produced in the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy. Provolone cheese has a close association with provola, and provoleta, two cheese varieties which are more or less provolone variants. Intriguingly, the word “provolone” is derived from “provola” meaning “circular-shaped” in the Neapolitan language. Today, provolone is widely produced in the northwestern parts of Italy, especially the city of Cremona. 

Image Credit: Flickr user arievergreen ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

How is Provolone Cheese Made?

Provolone can be prepared from cow or buffalo milk. First, milk curds are formed by adding rennet to the boiling milk which are then filtered from the whey. The milk curds are then kneaded, stretched, and shaped into large provolone cylinders that are immersed into brine and cooled. Later, the brined provolone is hung in strings to age where it develops its typical nutty flavor. 

What Does Provolone Cheese Taste Like?

Provolone Dolce is a mild, creamy, nutty, and sweet cheese, while provolone Piccante offers a sharp flavor that’s saltier with an umami undertone. The texture of both provolone varieties is semi-hard, buttery, and smooth. The taste of provolone is quite similar to mozzarella but it is sharper and a bit more buttery, for this reason it’s a popular provolone cheese substitute.

What is Provolone Cheese Used For?

Provolone is a multi-faceted cheese that can be added to various savory and sweet dishes. It’s often added to casseroles, pizza, cheesy mashed potatoes, and pasta dishes. You can also add shredded provolone to salads for a creamy-savory experience. As provolone melts quite well, it is widely used in sandwiches, hot dogs, and wraps. Try out our recipe for Easy Meatball Subs for a delightful cheesy dinner. 

If you’re a fan of the distinct provolone flavor, you can top any of your favorite dishes with shredded provolone cheese for a creamy, nutty, and somewhat tangy taste. For instance, try sprinkling provolone over roasted chicken, Cheese Steak, or Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for extra pop of flavor. Or try provolone stuffed into our Black Bean Bell Pepper and Mushroom Bites for a divine cheesy meal.

There are even more ways to enjoy provolone! This distinctively pleasing cheese is used to prepare fondue along with Emmental, Gruyere, or Fotina, and other ingredients like brandy or wine. Although the recipe for a fondue varies from region to region, the result is a melted cheese dip that’s best enjoyed with bread chunks, cured meat, and vegetables. Also, provolone cheese slices make an excellent addition to any cheese board. 

If you want to keep it simple, grill lightly seasoned provolone chunks until they’re partially melted, as in the Spanish starter, Provoleta, and savor them right away. This versatile cheese works equally well in sweet recipes, especially cheese pies such as the famous provolone cheesecake.

How Long Does Provolone Cheese Last?

Provolone cheese must be wrapped in parchment paper, and then tightly packed into a plastic bag or aluminum foil for a longer shelf-life. Properly stored provolone can last up to two to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Feature Image: Flickr user agopressit ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

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