Have you ever stopped to think about the journey food takes before it makes it to your plate? It can be a fascinating process, and as with all food, there are particular steps that need to go into each particular food for it to be made and prepared to eat. Provolone cheese is a particularly interesting cheese and a great example of how it is from the farm to the table. In this blog post, we'll discuss the journey of Provolone cheese from the fields and into your table.
The Origins of Milk
The journey of Provolone cheese, like all cheese, starts with the source of the cheese itself. Milk is the main ingredient for cheese, and as such, all cheese-making starts on a dairy farm. Dairy cows are kept in large fields and rely on the land for their food. They eat grass or hay, which provides the core of their nutrient needs with some help from other minerals and vitamins. Depending on the farm, cows might also be given other supplements, such as grains or soy.
Milk is extracted from the cow by milking machines, and each cow's extractions are collected together and stored in large tanks. The tanks keep the milk cool and prevent it from spoiling before it is processed. On smaller farms, the milk is taken directly to the cheesemaking facility or farm shop and then put directly into cheese. On larger farms, the milk is taken to a processing facility and tested for quality, homogenized, pasteurized, and even flavored, depending on the desired result.
Receiving the Milk at the Cheesemaking Facility
Once the milk has been processed and is ready for cheesemaking, it is delivered to the cheesemaking facility. At this point, the milk is measured for acidity and bacteria. This process is essential for ensuring that the cheese can be produced safely. The milk is also heated to a certain temperature to make it more conducive to cheesemaking.
Once the milk has been tested and heated, the cheesemaking process can begin. At the cheesemaking facility, an enzyme – either a calf-stomach enzyme or a special enzyme added to the milk – is added to the milk to start the process of curdling. This addition of enzymes causes the proteins in the milk to break down, causing the milk to separate into solid curds and liquid whey. The curds will become the cheese and the whey will be put aside to be used in other products such as whey protein powder.
The Making of Provolone
Once the curds have been separated from the whey, they are ready to be turned into Provolone cheese. Provolone is a mild and semi-square formed cheese that has a yellow to brownish color. It originates from Southern Italy, where it was invented by the peasants during the 15th century.
The process of making Provolone begins with the heating of the curds, which helps develop a rich flavor. The curds are placed into a cheese mould and heated to the desired temperature. Then, the cheese is drained and weighed before being aged in conditions of specific humidity, temperature, and air circulation. After the aging period, the cheese is ready to be packaged and sent off to be sold.
Packaging and Quality Control
At this stage, the Provolone cheese must undergo quality control. The quality of the cheese is checked for flavour, aroma, colour, consistency and size. The cheese is then packaged, usually in vacuum-sealed bags, and labeled with all the appropriate information for sale.
Shipping and Distribution
Once the Provolone cheese has been labeled and packaged, it is ready for shipping and distribution. Depending on the size of the provider, the Provolone cheese may be sent to local customers or sent across the country (or world!). During shipping, it is important to note that the cheese must be kept cool constantly as cheese is a living product and heat can cause it to spoil.
If the cheese is being sold to a local customer or retail store, the cheese may be delivered either by truck or bicycle. For long-distance shipping, the cheese must be sent in a refrigerated truck, otherwise the long distances and varying temperatures will spoil the cheese.
Utilizing Provolone Cheese
To get Provolone cheese to the dinner plate, it needs to be put to use in cooking. Provolone cheese is a versatile cheese that can be melted, baked, grated, and more. Provolone is mainly used as a pizza topping and melts beautifully on top of pizzas. It is also commonly used in sandwiches, as a topping for salads, and as an ingredient in cooking such as lasagna, egg dishes, and stuffing. Provolone is often added directly to sauces and soups to add flavour and enrich the dishes.
We hope this blog post has given you a better understanding of the journey a Provolone cheese takes from the fields to your dinner plate. Provolone cheese is an essential ingredient in many dishes, the qualities of which have been perfected through centuries of cheese-making tradition and perfected through modern technology. You can appreciate the complexity that goes into creating cheese and provide you with a delicious experience every time.