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What is Provola: Difference between Provolone and Provola

Provolone and provola are two stretched curd kinds of cheese that are part of Italian gastronomy and are appreciated for their irresistible taste.

They are available not only at the delicatessen counter of all supermarkets, but also at the fresh department, where they can be purchased whole, portioned in different weights, or even sliced ​​to facilitate the filling of toast, sandwiches, canapés, and so on.

Although many people think that it is the same thing, this is not the case at all, as there are considerable differences to distinguish the two names, but what are they?

Let’s find out together in this guide entirely dedicated to the aforementioned specialties!

Why is provola so called and from which animals it derives

Provola is a cheese characterized by the typical cylindrical or pear shape, surmounted by a small head generally tied to a noose made with string.

The paste is white, as is the rind, while the consistency is compact, elastic, and soft.

Speaking instead of the flavor, it is sweet, slightly acidic, and with a delicate note.

It is certainly one of the oldest cheeses in Southern Italy and its name derives from a test, as originally a cheese test was carried out, taking a sample of pasta out of the tank to check the spinning conditions.

According to other sources, the name derives from Pruvula or Pruvatura, which indicated the piece of cheese paste made to taste by devout people who went in procession to the monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua, located in the province of Caserta.

As for its regions of origin, the types produced with cow’s milk are Molise and Puglia, while those made with buffalo milk are from Campania.

Precisely in the latter, there is a historical testimony that authenticates its production since the seventeenth century, with provola constantly present inside the cribs, even if no one excludes that it was most likely produced in medieval times as well.

Over the centuries, the cheesemakers emigrated to the north and the production of the aforementioned gastronomic specialty began to be produced here too, favored by the great abundance of milk.

How provolone is produced, ingredients, calories, and nutritional values

Provola provides the following production stages:

  • filtering, during which the milk from the dairy is poured into large tanks to remove all impurities by using a special filter;
  • coagulation: after filtering, the milk is placed inside a basin to make it lose its liquid consistency through the addition of lactic ferments and rennet, and then it is left to rest;
  • curd processing: it is split into lumps with a special tool, cut into thick slices, and left to drain on a steel bench. Then some hot whey is added and it is left to acidify for a few hours;
  • spinning: when the curd reaches adequate maturation, it is processed to obtain a consistent, elastic, and white-colored paste. This phase is monitored by the watchful eyes of the master cheesemaker, whose task is to check homogeneity;
  • pressing: in this phase, the granules of the curd are compacted to give the cheese a solid consistency and shape. It can take place either with manual methods or with the help of mechanical tools;
  • salting: the cheeses are immersed in brine, a solution based on water and salt with concentrations that vary according to the dairy.

As for calories and nutritional values, one hundred grams of provola have a caloric intake of 260 kilocalories, of which:

  • 21.2 grams of protein;
  • 55 grams of water;
  • two grams of carbohydrates;
  • 19.6 grams of fat, of which 12.16 grams of saturated fat, 0.69 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and 6.34 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids;
  • 90 mg of cholesterol.

It is a naturally lactose-free product and therefore suitable for people intolerant/allergic to this substance.

Finally, given the high fat and cholesterol content, moderate and healthy consumption is recommended.

Differences between provolone and provola

As the term itself says, the first big difference between provolone and provola is the size of the cheese: the size of the first is much bigger than the second.

In addition, provolone, besides having the DOP mark (that of the Po Valley), is characterized by a more powerful flavor.

The latter exists both in a sweet version and in a spicy version and, unlike other dairy products, it can mature up to over a year.

Another detail not to be neglected is given by its five shapes, namely a flask, a salami, a truncated cone, a melon, or a pear.

It is a product originating from Northern Italy, where the master cheesemakers of the South, taking advantage of the unity of our country, brought all their knowledge and traditions, thus giving life to an innovative cheese.

Returning to the PDO denomination, attributed in 1993, it is necessary to specify that the production of Provolone Valpadana can only occur in some areas of the autonomous province of Trento, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, and Lombardy.

Finally, provolone and provola can be sold in a natural or smoked version; in the latter case, the shapes are brought closer to the smoke of the damp straw, the humidity of which also gives the typical brown color.

How provolone is produced, caloric intake, and nutritional values

Provolone is produced only with cow’s milk through the following stages:

  • preparation of the milk inside the boiler;
  • addition of rennet and lactic ferments to allow milk to coagulate. The rennet can be from veal or kid/lamb;
  • coagulation: during the aforementioned phase the milk undergoes the change from the liquid to a solid-state capable of incorporating the fat;
  • cutting of the pasta and fermentation: the curd is cut into slices and left to ferment on special flat surfaces, to reach the right degree of acidity and allow the correct stretching of the dough;
  • spinning: this name comes from the spinning of the wool, that is the cheese paste is pulled to form very long threads. It occurs in high-temperature water;
  • shaping: the still hot dough is molded into the desired shapes, which are cooled and firmed;
  • salting: the cheeses are immersed in tanks containing brine, where they can remain, depending on their weight and shape, from a few hours up to thirty days;
  • ligature: it takes place with ropes suitable for contact with food and the thickness varies according to the weight of the single wheel;
  • seasoning: this final phase takes place inside specific warehouses.

One hundred grams of provolone have a caloric intake of 351 calories, of which:

  • 25.58 grams of protein;
  • 26.62 grams of fat, of which 7.393 grams saturated and 0.769 grams polyunsaturated;
  • 69 mg of cholesterol;
  • 2.14 grams of carbohydrates, of which 0.56 grams of sugar.

As you can see, provolone contains more calories than provola.

Provolone and provola: ​​some fun curiosities and uses in the kitchen

When the term provolone is pronounced, a man immediately comes to mind with annoying ways of doing things and intent on having a sentimental/intimate approach with a woman.

Its etymology derives both from the male gender and from the cheese sample test carried out many years ago, only in the latter case the test is aimed at the fair sex, without any restraint and criteria of choice.

Leaving aside the attempted conquest, provolone and provola are two kinds of cheese characterized by a marked versatility, as they are perfect to combine with thousands of foods.

Provolone gives its best when paired with honey, mustard, dried or fresh fruit, while provola is more suitable for hot recipes.

In Southern Italy pasta and potatoes is pretty famous, a dish of origins as poor as they are tasty, to which cheese is added to make it spot-on, ie sticky.

Furthermore, if you buy it in large format, it is advisable to cut it into thick slices and cook it for a few minutes in a tomato sauce, salt and basil.

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