IL PROVOLONE VALPADANA
Originally, Provolone was the ‘test’ cheese that was stretched before Caciocavallo, the most important cheese to be produced at the time, to check that it was stretched properly. Provolone is a stretched-curd cheese made from cow’s milk, it has a smooth yellow-brown rind, while the paste is straw yellow, smooth and very compact and can be produced in two variants: sweet or spicy. It differs from other pasta filata cheeses because of its ability to mature for a longer periods of time, over a year, without drying out and without becoming a hard cheese to grate. Like many mature cheeses, Provolone has a high nutritional value: in fact, to produce 10 kg of cheese, you need 1 quintal of milk.
Today, Provolone is a typical Po Valley cheese, born from the combination between the pasta filata cheese tradition from southern Italy and the large quantity of milk available in the north. This was only possible starting from the middle of the 19th century; in fact, with the unification of Italy, the southern breeders were able to move to the north, bringing with them their traditions and techniques and creating a whole new cheese. Provolone Valpadana D.O.P. has had this designation since 1993 and can only be produced in certain Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna areas and in the autonomous province of Trento. The Consortium mark certifies its authenticity, quality and origin.
The production of Provolone
The production process of Provolone Valpadana begins with the heating of the milk to a temperature of 37°C. This is followed by the addition of natural whey and rennet. The curd is then formed, broken into small pieces and cooked at a temperature not exceeding 45°C. The paste, freed from the buttermilk, is left to mature on tables of fine wood to remove all traces of whey.
This process gives it the characteristic consistency: the dough tends to form threads when subjected to traction in boiling water. Hence the term spinning. The forming is done by hand or with special molds, by expert artisans. The cheese is then salted in brine followed by the tying and the seasoning which can last up to one year. 10 kilograms of cheese are obtained from a quintal of milk.