Provolone cheese is a beloved Italian semi-hard cheese that has been enjoyed for centuries. Its unique flavor and versatility make it a popular choice for sandwiches, antipasto platters, and cheese boards.
However, there has been some confusion and controversy surrounding the use of pork enzymes in the production of provolone cheese. Some people believe that most provolone cheese contains pork enzymes, while others argue that this is not the case.
In this article, we will explore the truth behind this debate and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not to include provolone cheese in your diet.
So, does provolone cheese have pork in it? Let’s find out.
Does Provolone Cheese Have Pork In It?
The answer to this question is not a simple one. While it is true that some provolone cheese does contain pork enzymes, not all varieties do.
It is important to note that the use of pork enzymes in cheese production is not uncommon. These enzymes are used to help coagulate the milk and create a firmer texture in the cheese. However, not all cheese manufacturers use pork enzymes in their production process.
If you are concerned about consuming pork enzymes, it is important to do your research and read the labels carefully. Some cheese manufacturers, such as Sargento, do not use pork enzymes in their provolone cheese. It is always a good idea to contact the manufacturer directly to confirm whether or not their product contains pork enzymes.
What Is Provolone Cheese?
Provolone cheese is a semi-hard Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. Its origins can be traced back to Southern Italy, but today it is mostly produced in the Po Valley region, particularly Lombardy and Veneto. The name “Provolone” comes from the Neapolitan words prova or provola, which mean globe-shaped.
There are two main types of Provolone cheese: provolone dolce (sweet) and provolone piccante (piquant). Provolone dolce is aged for 2-3 months and has a pale yellow to white color and a sweet taste. Provolone piccante, on the other hand, is aged for more than four months and has a sharper taste.
Provolone cheese is classified as a pasta filata (stretched-curd) cheese, which means that the curd is mixed with heated whey and kneaded to a smooth, semi-soft consistency. It is often molded into fanciful shapes such as pigs, fruits, or sausages. The brown, oily rind of provolone is wrapped in cords, which impress grooves in the rind, and hung to ripen. The creamy yellow interior of provolone is smooth and pliable.
Provolone cheese is versatile and can be used and served in a variety of ways. It is commonly served as a table cheese and is frequently used in sandwiches. It is also used in baked pasta dishes and casseroles. The flavors of Provolone broadly vary depending on where it’s made. Mostly, it’s semi-hard in texture and made from cow’s milk. Provolone contains high amounts of calcium and protein, but on the other hand, it is also high in sodium. The cheese goes along with full-bodied and aged red wines. At the table, it could be served with hot chutney, homemade bread and flatbread.
It is important to note that while some Provolone cheese may contain pork enzymes, not all varieties do. It is always a good idea to read the labels carefully or contact the manufacturer directly to confirm whether or not their product contains pork enzymes if you are concerned about consuming them.
The Cheese-Making Process
Cheese-making is a complex process that involves several steps and ingredients. Provolone cheese, like most other cheeses, is made from pasteurized cow’s milk.
The first step in making provolone cheese is to heat the milk to a specific temperature of 90F (32C). This can be done by placing the milk in a pot or sink of very warm water. If heating on the stove, it should be done slowly and stirred well as it heats.
Next, two cultures are added to the milk – 1/2 Packet C101 Mesophilic Culture or 1/4 tsp MA11 Culture and 1.5% of Prepared Bulgarian Yogurt. For 3 gallons of milk, this will be 5.75 ounces of yogurt. The cultures are sprinkled over the surface of the milk and allowed to rehydrate for about 2 minutes before stirring them in. The milk is then left to ripen for 30 minutes at the target temperature of 90F.
After the milk has ripened, rennet enzymes are added to coagulate the milk and form cheese curds. The curds are then separated from the liquid whey and either kept loose or molded tightly. The curds are then processed in a multitude of ways to create different types of cheese.
It’s important to note that there are two distinct categories of cheese – acid-set cheese and rennet-set cheese. Acid-set cheese refers to soft cheeses like cream cheese, cottage cheese, and farmer cheese that are produced by adding bacterial cultures to milk. Rennet-set cheese refers to harder cheeses like cheddar, mozzarella, and provolone that are produced by adding rennet enzymes to milk.
In addition to milk, cultures, and rennet, other ingredients like cream (milk fat) and non-fat milk powder may be added to modify the product’s fat ratio. Vinegar may also be added to adjust the pH of the milk prior to conversion into cheese, and additional cultures and enzymes may be used to achieve various flavors as well as to prepare the milk for interacting with the rennet.
The Use Of Enzymes In Cheese-Making
Enzymes play a crucial role in the cheese-making process. They are added to milk to help coagulate it, separating the solid curds from the liquid whey. Rennet is the most commonly used enzyme in cheese-making, and it is traditionally derived from the stomach lining of calves. However, there are other sources of enzymes, including vegetable, microbial, and animal sources.
Animal enzymes, such as porcine enzymes derived from pork, are sometimes used in cheese-making to develop specific cheese flavors. Commercially used fungal rennet preparations contain a complex mixture of protease, esterase, lipase, cellulase, and other enzymes that improve cheese quality. Fungal rennets have been found to be more effective than calf rennet in terms of faster ripening and flavor development of cheese.
In recent years, there has been a move towards using bioengineered chymosin as a substitute for calf rennet. This involves cloning calf prochymosin genes into bacteria to produce a more sustainable and ethical source of rennet. While this has been successful in reducing the use of animal rennet in cheese production, it presents ethical issues for those opposed to eating foods prepared with genetically engineered materials.
It is important to note that not all cheese manufacturers use the same type of enzyme in their production process. Some use fermentation-produced rennet that is vegetarian-friendly and has Kosher and Halal certification. Tillamook Cheese is an example of a manufacturer that uses vegetarian-friendly rennet for the majority of their cheeses. Other manufacturers may use traditional bovine rennet or a combination of different types of enzymes.
The Controversy Around Pork Enzymes In Provolone Cheese
The use of pork enzymes in cheese production has been a topic of controversy for those who follow certain dietary restrictions or religious beliefs. While some argue that the use of pork enzymes is necessary for creating the desired texture in cheese, others argue that it goes against their beliefs and should be avoided.
One point of contention is the lack of transparency in labeling. Many cheese manufacturers do not specify the source of their enzymes, making it difficult for consumers to make informed decisions about what they are consuming. This has led to confusion and frustration among those who are trying to avoid pork-based products.
Additionally, there is debate over whether or not the use of pork enzymes in cheese production is actually necessary. Some argue that there are plant-based alternatives that can be used instead, while others claim that these alternatives do not produce the same results.
Provolone Cheese Varieties And Ingredients
Provolone cheese comes in two distinct varieties: Provolone Dolce and Provolone Piccante. Provolone Dolce is made using calf’s rennet, aged approximately two to three months, and has a mild creamy and milky flavor. On the other hand, Provolone Piccante is usually made from goat’s or lamb’s rennet, is usually aged from three months to a year, and is drier, sharper and more pungent than Provolone Dolce. Both varieties may be smoked which creates a mild smoky aroma and taste.
Provolone cheese is a member of the pasta filata (spun paste) family of cheeses. Like Mozzarella, Provolone is a pasta filata cheese, a production style where the curd is kneaded and stretched while still hot. Provolone Cheese is bathed in brine before applying its wax or plastic rind, tying with rope and hanging in the aging cellar. Provolone Cheese can be formed into many different shapes such as pears, cones, tubes or torpedoes. Some producers even mold Provolone into fanciful shapes such as animals or figurines.
The ingredients used to make provolone cheese typically include pasteurized cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, and enzymes. However, some manufacturers may use pork enzymes in their production process. It is always important to read the label carefully or contact the manufacturer directly to confirm whether or not their product contains pork enzymes if you are concerned about consuming them.
How To Determine If Provolone Cheese Contains Pork Enzymes
If you are trying to determine whether or not a particular brand of provolone cheese contains pork enzymes, there are a few things you can look for. First, check the ingredient list for any mention of animal enzymes or porcine enzymes. If these terms are listed, it is likely that pork enzymes were used in the production process.
However, it is important to note that not all cheese manufacturers specify which type of enzymes were used. In this case, look for keywords such as “vegetarian rennet” or “microbial rennet” on the label. These terms indicate that non-animal sources were used to coagulate the milk and create the cheese.
Another option is to contact the manufacturer directly and ask about their production process. Some manufacturers, such as Tillamook, use only vegetarian-friendly rennet in all of their cheeses, including provolone. Sargento also does not use pork enzymes in their provolone cheese.