Provolone is a popular and versatile cheese that can be used in a multitude of ways. It is a classic on Italian Club sandwiches, creamy when melted, and a great addition to any charcuterie board. However, if you find yourself with too much of this delicious dairy product, you don’t have to worry about it going bad.
You may be asking, can you freeze provolone cheese? You certainly can freeze provolone cheese! It must be properly wrapped to maximize freshness, and once thawed it won’t be exactly the same as fresh provolone cheese, but freezing provolone cheese is an excellent way to extend its shelf-life.
Read on to find out everything that you need to know when it comes to freezing provolone cheese. We’ll also provide some background information and nutrition facts about this extremely popular cheese, and we’ll answer some of the most common questions that arise when freezing and using provolone cheese.
Where Provolone Cheese Comes From
Provolone is an Italian cow’s milk cheese that originates from southern Italy.
Nowadays, it is primarily produced in the Po valley region of Italy, which includes Veneto and Lombardy, though it is also produced in North America.
How Provolone Cheese is Made
Provolone is a stretched-curd cheese that is made from cow’s (or sometimes buffalo’s) milk, and it is produced in a process that is similar to that of mozzarella.
Simply put, to make provolone cheese the curds and the whey of the milk are separated, and the curds are stretched twice while they are still hot.
Provolone cheese is then bathed in brine and a wax or plastic rind is applied. At this point, the cheese is aged for at least two months.
Traditional provolone is made from all-natural ingredients and should be free of preservatives. However, industrial-produced provolone is much more likely to contain additives.
Provolone Cheese Nutrition Facts
Though provolone isn’t as healthy as some other cheeses, such as Swiss cheese or cottage cheese, it is a relatively nutritious dairy product.
In one ounce of provolone cheese, there are just 100 calories, 8 g of fat, 19.6 mg of cholesterol, less than 1 g of carbohydrates, 7 g of protein, and over 20% of the daily recommended value of calcium.
Recipes with Provolone Cheese
Provolone is an incredibly versatile cheese that can be used in an endless number of dishes.
First off, it is a very common sandwich cheese when sliced thin, and completes any Italian Club or Hoagie sandwich. It also pairs well with smoked turkey or, for a light vegetarian option, fresh tomato.
Provolone can be shredded onto salads, for example an antipasto, and is also a great addition to any cheeseboard.
When incorporated in a charcuterie spread, pair with strong or spicy condiments, such as olives, roasted red peppers, or spicy jams and chutneys.
Finally, provolone is a prime cheese for melting. It can be baked on its own and served with crackers or fresh bread for a rich and delicious appetizer, or it can be melted into a variety of dishes to add a rich and creamy layer.
Melt parmesan over roasted chicken cutlets, incorporate it into a pasta bake, serve on a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, or use it to upgrade your mac and cheese.
Provolone goes great on grilled cheese, or take your sandwich up a notch and add roasted eggplant and sundried tomatoes. The options are endless when cooking with provolone!
How to Freeze Provolone Cheese
When properly stored, a chunk of provolone cheese or sliced provolone cheese will last for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
To maximize freshness, the cheese should be wrapped in parchment paper and then plastic wrap.
Fortunately, provolone cheese freezes well if you follow the proper steps. You have three options when it comes to freezing provolone cheese: in block form, sliced, and shredded.
- To freeze blocks of provolone cheese, you want to make sure that they aren’t too big (½ pound at the most). Portion down your block of cheese into smaller blocks, wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place them into airtight freezer bags.
- Alternatively, you can freeze slices of provolone cheese. We recommend individually wrapping each slice in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, which makes it easy to grab one and thaw for convenient use, though multiple slices can be wrapped together. Freeze the tightly-wrapped slices of provolone in airtight bags.
- Finally, you can also freeze shredded provolone cheese. To do so, place shredded provolone cheese in an airtight freezer bag and remove much air as possible. It is very important to remove any extra air, as failing to do so will present the risk of freezer burn.
Freezing provolone cheese is your best option for long-term storage, as it will last a very long time (over a year), but it retains its highest quality within the first 8 months of freezing.
Though there are no health risks related to freezing provolone cheese, freezing it will likely cause its quality to suffer.
When thawed, provolone cheese that was frozen has a tendency to become crumbly and less smooth than it is when it is fresh. However, you won’t be able to notice these flaws when provolone that has been frozen and thawed is melted.
How to Thaw Provolone Cheese That Has Been Frozen
The best way to thaw provolone cheese is by transferring into the fridge and waiting for it to defrost overnight.
Shredded and sliced provolone will thaw quicker than provolone that has been frozen in blocks, which can take up to 24 hours to fully defrost. Provolone that has been thawed in the fridge should be used within 3-4 days.
Alternatively, you can thaw provolone on the counter, but only if you will be using it immediately, and the temperature of the room is between 65 and 72 degrees F.
When thawing provolone on the counter, transfer to the fridge as soon as it is completely defrosted.
How to Use Provolone Cheese That Has Been Frozen
Though it is very convenient, freezing cheese can have a significant impact on its texture, and provolone is no exception.
However, there is no need to fret, as provolone cheese that has been frozen and thawed is practically as good as fresh provolone when melted.
If you froze your provolone in slices, add to grilled cheese or patty melts, or place on top of breaded chicken and broil for a few minutes.
If you froze shredded provolone, it can be successfully incorporated into almost any warm dish, like pasta bakes, French onion soup, potatoes au gratin, or stuffed peppers.
Finally, if you froze your provolone in block form, slice or shred once thawed. You can sprinkle a larch piece of it with herbs and bake, making a delicious and creamy spread to be served on toasted French bread with jam or chutney.
How do you know if provolone cheese is spoiled?
Like all cheeses, provolone will grow mold when it has gone bad, a clear sign that it is no longer safe to eat.
If your provolone darkens in color, develops a hard texture, or emits a strange smell, it is likely spoiled.
What other cheeses freeze well?
Aside from provolone, there are plenty of other cheeses that hold up well to freezing. First off, industrial-produced cheese like certain cheddars and Colby-jacks will experience little change in texture and quality after freezing.
Other hard and semi-hard cheeses that have a similar texture to provolone, such as swiss, gouda, Havarti, Emmental, mozzarella, and even softer cheeses like feta and blue cheese, are great candidates for freezing.
You should (usually) never freeze soft cheeses (brie, queso fresco, paneer, camembert, stilton, cream cheese) or fresh curd cheeses (cottage cheese, ricotta, quark), as their quality will significantly suffer when frozen and they won’t be very edible after thawing.
Though you can freeze very hard cheeses like parmesan and pecorino romano, it makes the most sense to just store them in the fridge, where they will last for months.
What is a good substitute for provolone cheese?
Provolone is most frequently used on sandwiches and is often melted, so when finding a substitute, you’ll want to look for a cheese that can be sliced thin and that melts well.
Mozzarella (not fresh mozzarella, but rather sliced mozzarella) or muenster are great provolone replacements for sandwiches.
Fontina cheese also has a similar flavor and the great melting qualities that so many people value in provolone.
What does provolone cheese taste like?
Provolone, though also produced in North America, is a mild Italian cheese, so it goes great with cured Italian meats like salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, capocollo, or mortadella.
However, it pairs well with a wide variety of meats, like beef or pork, and is even a great addition to chicken dishes.
Which wines pair well with provolone cheese?
Most provolones are hard and somewhat nutty cheeses, so they shouldn’t be paired with too heavy a wine.
Provolone goes great with sparkling wines like champagne, cava, and prosecco, along with virtually any white wine. It pairs well with light-bodied reds like Pinot Noir and medium-bodied reds like Cabernet Franc.