Provolone Cheese Info

What is Provolone Cheese

This is an Italian stretched-curd (pasta filata) cheese, first made in southern Italy but now also made in other parts of Italy and in the United States, principally in Wisconsin and Michigan. It is light in color, mellow, smooth, cuts without crumbling, and has an agreeable flavor.

This cheese is made in various shapes and sizes, each of which is identified by a more or less distinguishing name. Typically, the style called Provolone is pear-shaped and in the United States weighs about 14 pounds; in Italy, it weighs between 6 and 9 pounds.

The cheese can range from mild and sweet to sharp and pungent depending upon the final moisture and amount of aging time.

A History of Provolone Cheese

Provolone is the 'older brother' of the Mozzarella family. Moisture levels differentiate these two different types of cheese. Provolone is 45 percent moisture content, which is lower than Mozzarella with a standard range of 52 to 60 percent moisture. This lower moisture content gives Provolone a longer shelf-life than Mozzarella and the Provolone holds up better as a slicing and shredding cheese.

This low moisture and longer aging results in fuller flavors than Mozzarella.

The stretching of the curd during production results is a malleable cheese with a closed texture that can be sculpted into a variety of shapes, depending on desired function or the whim of the cheese maker. Sometimes it is even formed into the shape of animals.

Provolone’s original shape was round, but with the invention of molds in the early 1900s, the salami shape became most popular because of its practicality for hanging and slicing. Many companies continue to hang and age their Provolone using ropes, a throwback to traditional practices. It was always hung with ropes because it is too soft to sit on a shelf.

Provolone typically made in large batch sizes that involve a lot of hand work.