Provolone Vs Mozzarella – What’s The Difference?

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If you are an aspiring home cook, then knowledge about the different types of cheese is important.

Having a proper understanding of how specific ingredients work will surely come in handy as you explore a myriad of different recipes. Of course, this is often easier said than done.

For instance, a lot of people seem to confuse provolone and mozzarella cheese. That is why this guide seeks to answer the question:

What’s the difference between provolone and mozzarella? The main difference between provolone and mozzarella is the process used to make them. While provolone is aged for 3 weeks, mozzarella is a fresh cheese. Provolone also has a sharper taste than mozzarella, which is buttery and milder.

Of course, there is more to it than that. These two types of cheese are among the most widely used varieties around. Knowing the particularities of what sets them apart will surely come in handy later on.

To do this, we’ll also be taking a closer look at both mozzarella and provolone to see how they are different. So, be sure to keep reading.

Overview – Provolone and Mozzarella

The confusion surrounding provolone and mozzarella is perfectly understandable. After all, both of these cheeses trace their origins to Italy, although they hail from different regions of the country.

At the same time, they are also classified as semi-soft cheeses. They also share a somewhat mild and buttery flavor. It is also worth noting that there are some similarities in their production process.

However, the subtle differences are what ultimately set them apart. To better understand how they are different, we must take a closer look at how each of them is made.

Making Provolone Cheese 

First, let us take at Provolone cheese. Known for its smooth and nutty flavor, it also has a hint of tanginess that is hard to ignore. This flavor profile makes it a popular choice for pizza recipes as well as pasta.

Take note that the quality of the Provolone Cheese is dependent on two major factors: the quality and amount of fat in the milk being used and the production process itself.

Here is the process of making provolone cheese:

  1. Sourcing the Milk – The first step is to obtain fresh milk for it to undergo the cheese-making process. The freshness of the milk is of utmost importance.
  2. Heating the Milk – The fresh milk is then heated to temperatures ranging from 9-102°F.
  3. Separating the Curds – Once the milk has reached the desired temperatures, curds will start to form. To hasten the process of separating the curds from the milk, cheese-makers will add a bit of rennet. 
  4. Straining and Drying the Curds – The curds will then need to be cleared of any remaining water and milk solids before being dried completely. 
  5. Cooking the Curds – The curds will then need to be cooked in high temperatures. This usually ranges between 118-125°F. The cooking process can last between 6-8 hours. Cooking the curds is a vital preparatory step to the formation of the cheese itself. 
  6. Stretching the Curds – Once the cooking process is done, the curds will then be cut into blocks before they undergo stretching. The act of stretching is what will give the provolone that distinctively springy texture. Once that is finished, the cheese-maker will then put it into a mold to be shaped.
  7. Preparing the Cheese for Curing – The entire cheese will then need to be placed in a very light salted brine bath before being tied with ropes and dipped into a light wax bath. These steps help prevent any bad molds from developing during the curing process. 
  8. Curing – This is the final and most important step. When it comes to provolone, the cheese will need to be cured for at least 3 months before it is sold to the market.

These are the general principles that go into making provolone. However, you must also note that cheese-makers often make subtle variations to make their cheese unique.  

Making Mozzarella Cheese

Now, it is time that we take a look at Mozzarella Cheese. There is no denying that mozzarella is the more popular of the two.

It is among the most well-known and beloved cheese varieties out there, probably because of its sheer ubiquity in the culinary scene. In fact, it’s particularly delicious in our recipe for creamy mozzarella shrimp pasta!

You will probably notice how significantly simpler it is to make compared to provolone. You can even start making your own at home, if you’d like!

Here are the steps that go into making Mozzarella cheese:

  1. Sourcing the Milk – To make authentic mozzarella cheese, you will need buffalo milk. However, if that isn’t accessible to you, then cow’s milk will make for an acceptable substitute.
  2. Ripening and Curdling the Milk – You will then need to add a whey starter to ripen the milk. Once that is done, add rennet to help it curdle.
  3. Breaking the Curd – Once the curd has formed, cut into pieces and knead with salt. This will help reduce them to tiny curd particles. 
  4. Melting the Curd – Hot water is added and mixed with the curd particles to melt them.
  5. Separating Curd and Whey – As the curds melt, they will start to separate from the whey. Make sure to drain the excess water. 
  6. Kneading and Stretching – This is where the stretching process comes into play. Start kneading and stretching the curds before eventually shaping them into mozzarella balls. 

There you have it. You can then consume the cheese once these steps are finished.

Mozzarella is easy to make and easy to find and goes well with so many dishes, but if you’re really looking into this topic because you’re looking for a substitute for mozzarella, we have another article for you.

By now, you have already probably noticed a couple of differences between the production process of these two kinds of cheese. Remember that all of these will also play a major role later on.

Provolone and Mozzarella – Comparison

Mozzarella and Provolone are incredibly popular cheeses. However, you should know that there are significant differences between them that you shouldn’t ignore.

Again, as a home cook, it all comes down to knowing your ingredients. So, best read on as we break each of these differences down.  

Production Process – Aged vs. Fresh

As clearly shown in the previous section, the main difference between these two kinds of cheese comes in the production process.

For instance, notice how provolone depends on fresh cow milk, while mozzarella requires you to ripen buffalo milk prematurely. 

At the same time, you will probably have noticed that provolone is cured for at least 3 months before going into the market while Mozzarella is not aged at all. As stated in the previous section, mozzarella is typically eaten fresh.

Put simply, provolone is known as an aged cheese while mozzarella is not. Needless to say, many of the defining differences between these two kinds of cheese stem from this fact. 

Flavor Profile

This is perhaps the most noticeable difference between the two kinds of cheese. Provolone has a sharper and tangier flavor compared to mozzarella’s mild, buttery, and almost milky flavor.

Needless to say, provolone has the more complex flavor profile between the two, which is a direct effect of the aging and curing process. 

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily give provolone the advantage over mozzarella. This is because some people find its flavors to be quite overwhelming at times.

Shelf Life

If you have ever bought mozzarella from the grocery store, you will have probably noticed that it comes packaged in a brine solution.

This helps the cheese retain its moisture and keep it fresh. Fresh cheeses like mozzarella don’t have a very long shelf life and must be consumed quickly to prevent them from spoiling. 

On the other hand, provolone can be stored for quite a while. 2 -3 weeks, to be exact. Meanwhile, real pure mozzarella cheese can only last for as long as five days in the refrigerator. 

Nutritional Content

Another noticeable difference between these two kinds of cheese is their nutritional content. Presented below is a table comparing provolone and mozzarella from a nutritional standpoint. 

Mozzarella Vs. Provolone Comparison*

Total Fat25g35.1g

*(per 1 cup serving)

The difference between the two is fairly obvious once you examine their nutritional content.

If you are following a specific diet, then this chart will surely come in handy, as it tells you everything you need to know about these two kinds of cheese. 

For instance, if you are on a high-protein diet, then you should go with provolone because of its higher protein content. However, if you are trying to cut down on your sodium intake, then you may want to opt for mozzarella instead. 

Up Next: Can You Freeze Provolone Cheese?

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