Home > European Cheeses > Provolone Cheese

Provolone Cheese

Author: Diane Bobis - Updated: 19 January 2013 | commentsComment
Provolone Cheese

Provolone is the beautiful cheese you often see strung up with twine and hung from the ceiling of Italian food shops. But what is it? Imagine Mozzarella – with a much fuller flavour.

Like Mozzarella, Provolone comes from the family of pasta filata cheeses. Italian for “spun paste,” pasta filata cheeses are pulled-curd cheeses mixed with heated whey, then kneaded and stretched to a wonderfully pliable consistency.

So what makes Provolone different from other pasta filata cheeses like Mozzarella or Caciocavallo? Ageing ability.

Moulded into fanciful shapes, wrapped up in cords, and hung to ripen, Provolone develops an oily, golden brown rind. As it ages, the cheese becomes richer in yellow colour, firmer in texture, and more pronounced in flavour.

Provolone Varieties

Despite its Southern Italian origins, versions of Provolone are made in several countries throughout the world, including the U.S. and Japan. However, the main production areas for Provolone remain in Italy, particularly, the Northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and the province of Trento.

In these regions, there are 13 certified cheese producers crafting the authentic D.O.P. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) label Provolone. Known as Provolone Valpadana, this traditional cow’s milk cheese is made in two distinct varieties:

Dolce (mild): This delicately flavoured Provolone is made with calf’s rennet and aged no longer than two to three months. Dolce has a creamy, milky taste and a smooth, semi-soft texture. Forms of dolce Provolone are relatively small, weighing in at a maximum of 12 pounds.

Piccante (sharp): Made with goat’s and/or lamb’s rennet, the ageing process for piccante Provolone ranges from a minimum of three months to more than one year. This cheese is drier, sharper, and stronger than the dolce, so it’s best enjoyed for dessert, cooking, and grating. Forms of Provolone piccante can be as large as 200 pounds.

Both dolce and piccante Provolone come in smoked versions. Theses cheeses have a light, but distinctively smokier aroma and flavour.

Buying Tips

Provolone is widely available year-round at many supermarkets and specialist cheese shops. A squat pear shaped Provolone is the most common and recognisable, but forms of Provolone are made in many shapes, including:

  • Melon/pear shaped: called “Mandarino,” “Mandarone,” or “Provoletta”
  • Sausage shaped: called “Pancetta,” “Pancettone,” or “Salamino”
  • Truncated cone shaped: called “Gigante,” “Gigantino,” or “Gigantone”
  • Bottle shaped: called “Fiaschetta”

Storage Tips

Once home, tightly wrap your Provolone in plastic and refrigerate. The mild, semi-soft variety will keep for about two weeks. Aged provolone can be stored four weeks or even longer.

Serving Tips

Both varieties of Provolone are perfect with cocktails and antipasto. Serve the cheese with Italian salamis, peppers, olives, nuts, pears, figs, and wedges of fresh melon for an easy, elegant appetizer.

At the everyday table, Provolone is right at home with a loaf of Italian bread. Drizzle the dolce with a little oil, salt, pepper and freshly torn herbs. Or complement your piccante Provolone with a few curls of fresh butter.

Provolone is also a great melting cheese. Use it when you want a little more “zing” than your usual mozzarella. Melt slices of Provolone onto grilled burgers or shred and bake into stuffed shells, lasagne, and casseroles.

Like Parmesan, aged Provolone is great to have on hand for sprinkling over finished recipes. Freshly grate your Provolone and use it as a topping for pizza, bruschetta, pasta dishes, salads, and soups.

Pairing Provolone With Wine

As a general rule, the stronger the cheese, the stronger the wine. Pair your mild Provolone with similarly young wines. Try fruity varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Beaujolais, Novello, or Barbera.

To fully appreciate the qualities of an aged Provolone, pair it with older, more structured wines such as Amarone, Valpolicella, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, or Barbaresco. Sharper Provolone also tastes great alongside a pint of hearty ale. Salute!

You might also like...
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
[Add a Comment]
Can a hardprovolone be frozen in chunks then added to tomatoe sauce when cooking?
southwest philly gir - 19-Jan-13 @ 7:59 PM
@goobaby There's a company called melbury & appleton, they are UK based and deliver, they stock Provolone
007 - 19-Jul-12 @ 10:32 AM
I am looking to buy provolone cheese, pepper jack and american cheese in the uk . can you suggest any suppliers?
goobaby - 17-Jul-12 @ 12:44 PM
can provolone cheese be frozen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
kitkat - 5-Jun-12 @ 12:25 PM
hello i am opening a new restaurant in london and i would like to have some provolone. i wuold like one that i can put it in the oven or on a charcoal grill. thanks a lot i wait for your answer gustavo
gus - 10-May-12 @ 4:58 PM
Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Melissa
    Re: French Cheeses
    I was surprised to learn that there are 400+ types of cheese in France. I would love to buy a sampler of all these different types of cheeses. Do…
    6 December 2014
  • itsbybitsy
    Re: Casu Marzu: World's Most Dangerous Cheese?
    @williamwhitehead...interesting idea, I'd rather just avoid it personally :)
    24 October 2014
  • ILoveCheese
    Re: Cheese Facts
    @Like. That's great - we hope we've inspired you to try lots of new cheeses with your crackers!
    23 October 2014
  • William Whitehead
    Re: Casu Marzu: World's Most Dangerous Cheese?
    You could always put the cheese in a Ziploc to suffocate the maggots before eating.
    22 October 2014
  • Like
    Re: Cheese Facts
    I love cheese on crackers and this website really helps me to know what i need to know about the cheese x
    21 October 2014
  • ILoveCheese
    Re: Gloucestershire and Double Gloucester Cheese
    @choosy. There are several places here in the UK where you can buy single gloucester. Here are a few of them:…
    30 July 2014
  • choosy
    Re: Gloucestershire and Double Gloucester Cheese
    The Double is gorgeous, of course, have loved it for years. BUT I should love to try the Single...but where…
    30 July 2014
  • Jojo
    Re: Greek Cheese Including Feta, Graviera and Kasseri
    12 June 2014
  • cheesemeister473
    Re: Are Organic Cheeses Better For You?
    Thank you sooooooooooooooooo much!!!!! I am doing a project on organic cheese, and I learned a lot about organic cheese…
    19 May 2014
  • Further Reading...
    Our Most Popular...
    We are on Facebook
    Check us out...
    Add to my Yahoo!
    Add to Google
    Stumble this
    Add to Twitter
    Add To Facebook
    RSS feed
    You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the ILoveCheese website. Please read our Disclaimer.