Provolone is an Italian pasta filata, pulled type, of cheese. Tradition dates it back to Roman times where it was smoked and ripened. Provolone is Italian for "large oval" or "large sphere". It's made sort of like mozzarella, but with ripened milk instead of sweet milk and is firmer when it's done. (I'll add posts with photos of making the cheese when I have lots of milk again this spring.)
Here is a photo of one of the hand formed balls of Provolone that I made.
Goat Milk Provolone
After draining the whey from the curds, the cheese is heated to around 130* and stretches easily. You kneed it like bread dough and pull it like taffy ... then form it into balls or logs while it is hot and soft ... then drop it into cold water to be sure it holds its shape. You put the cheeses in a brine solution for about 12 hours and then pat them dry. This is when the Provolone cheese should be put in a cool smoker for several hours before aging. But, I don't have my smoker ready yet ... so I wrapped them in cheese paper and put them in the fridge/cooler at around 48* to ripen. The cheese paper keeps them from drying out and still allows them to breath.
Here is a photo of the cheeses aging/ripening in the large fridge out in the cheese processing room. You can see the Provolone cheeses in the front ... wrapped in their cheese paper. All cheeses made with raw milk need to be aged at least 60 days to be sure they are safe to eat.
Cheeses Aging in the Fridge
When Tonia (from The Simple Life) and her daughters came over a few days ago ... we opened one of the Provolone cheeses to taste it. (We tasted LOTS of cheese that day!)
The Provolone was pretty good ... but not one of my favorites. It is a firm cheese and a little salty (from being in the brine). I don't think I would enjoy eating it just by itself ... like I do with some of the other cheeses ... but it would be wonderful grated and used in cooking. I think I'll try some melted on crusty bread with some butter, garlic, and maybe some basil. I think that would be delicious! Mummm.....