Provolone 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
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.