Provolone is an Italian cheese that originated in southern Italy, where it is still produced in various shapes like in 10 to 15 cm long pear shapes, sausage shape or cone shape. The most important Provolone production region, however, is nowadays in Northern Italy (Piedmonte, Lombardy, Venice).
The term Provolone (meaning large Provola) appeared around the end of the 20th century when it started to be manufactured in the Northern regions of Italy, and this cheese assumed its current large size.
Provolone is today a whole-milk cow cheese with a smooth skin produced mainly in the Po River Valley regions of Lombardia and Veneto. It is produced in different forms: shaped like large salami up to 30 cm in diameter and 90 cm long; in a watermelon shape; in a truncated bottle shape; or also in a large pear shape with the characteristic round knob for hanging. The average weight is 5 kg.
Provolone is a semi-hard cheese with taste varying greatly from Provolone Piccante (Piquant), aged minimum 4 months and by the very sharp taste, to Provolone Dolce (Sweet) with a very mild cheesy taste. In Provolone Piccante, the distinctive piquant taste is produced with rennet originating from goat. The Dolce version uses calve rennet instead.
The sweeter, younger Provolone can be substituted for mozzarella.