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Provolone Cheese

Provolone CheeseProvolone is an Italian cheese that originated in Casilli near Vesuvius, where it is still produced in various shapes such as 10 to 15 cm long pear, sausage, or cone shapes. Provolone-type cheeses are also produced in other countries.  The most important Provolone production region is Northern Italy.

The term Provolone (meaning large Provola) appeared around the end of the 19th century, when it started to be manufactured in the Southern regions of Italy, and this cheese assumed its current large size.  The smaller sized variant is called Provola and comes in plain and smoked ("affumicata") varieties.

Modern Provolone is a full-fat cow's milk cheese with a smooth skin, produced mainly in the Po River Valley regions of Lombardia and Veneto. It is produced in different shapes: like a very large sausage which may be up to 30 cm in diameter and 90 cm long, in a truncated bottle shape, and in a large pear shape with the characteristic round knob for hanging. The typical weight is 5 kg (11 pounds).

Provolone is a semi-hard cheese with taste varying greatly from Provolone Piccante (sharp/piquant), aged for a minimum of four months and with a very sharp taste, to Provolone Dolce (sweet) with a very mild taste. In Provolone Piccante, the distinctive piquant taste is produced with lipase (enzyme) derived from goat. The Dolce version uses calf's lipase instead.

Both Provolone Val Padana and Provolone del Monaco (from the Naples area of Italy) have received the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) seal from the European Community.

In Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay, small discs of locally-produced Provolone of 10 to 15 cm in diameter and 1 to 2 cm in height are sometimes grilled until partially melted and eaten as a starter, often seasoned with herbs. The cheese when served this way is often called provoleta in Spanish.

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