Provolone is an Italian cheese from Southern Italy. In the present time, the major production of Provolone cheese happens in Po valley region, specifically in Lombardy and Veneto. It has a DOP designation granted by the European Union to ensure that it is produced under strict supervision using specific methods to guarantee supreme quality. Let us know more about the history of Provolone cheese, as well as its characteristics.
History of Provolone Cheese
It was the Cistercian monks who carried out the vast operation of reclamation and channeling of spring water and surface water in the Lambro and Adda Rivers area. With this, the development of a cereal-livestock production was founded and it concentrated on the breeding of dairy and cheese making cattle. It then spread from its original core in the lower Milanese through the entire Po valley and established itself as the farming valley’s main economic resource.
The happy marriage between the spun paste cheese culture from the south of Italy and the local dairy vocation was born in the Po valley in the second half of the 19th century. In 1861, the barriers between the different peninsula areas were able to be overcome by the unification of Italy and the entrepreneurs from the south who had moved their production activities to Piacenza, Cremona, and Brescia arrived. With this, the culture and consumption of spun paste cheese was spread through the whole country.
The Po Valley was able to offer a great availability of suitable milk for cheese making, as well as the infrastructure needed to create quality products, paving the way for the evolution of a Provolone produced in different sizes.
In 1871, the designation of Provolone appears in literature for the first time in “Vocobolario di agricoltura di Canevazzi-Mancini”. The word Provolone literally means a large provola. It is a completely original cheese that is distinguishable among other spun paste cheese. It is widespread in Southern Italy because of its large size and ability to ripen for long periods without drying out too much and not becoming a cheese that is good for grating.
In 1993, the “Valpadana” designation of origin was first accompanied by the title “Provolone”, which is a culmination of a centuries-old tradition which has determined the characteristics for which the cheese is known and appreciated.
Characteristics of Provolone Cheese
Provolone is an Italian cow’s milk cheese and it is produced in a pasta-filata process which is similar to mozzarella. They are molded into fanciful shapes, wrapped in cords, and hung to ripen until they develop an oily, golden brown rind. As the cheese ages, it becomes richer in yellow color, firmer in texture, and more flavorful.
There are three classifications of Provolone cheese which are, Provolone Dolce, Provolone Piccante, and Provolone Affumicato. Provolone Dolce is aged for 2 to 3 months, has a pale yellow to white color, and has a sweet taste. Provolone Picante, is aged for more than 4 months and it has a sharper taste, and Provolone Affumicato is lightly smoked for about a week and then aged for about three months.
The Provolone cheese in South America is similar to the Dolce variety. Its flavor vary largely depending where it is made but mostly, it is semi-hard in texture. Provolone cheese is known to contain high amounts of calcium and protein, but it is also high in sodium.
Provolone cheese can be served together with hot chutneys, homemade breads, and flat breads. You can also pair it with wines and it goes very well with full-bodied and aged red wines.
Provolone is another kind of cheese that was made years ago but is still being enjoyed today. It is one of the must-try for cheese lovers out there.