Is Provolone Cheese Safe to Eat if it Smells Bad? Our Experts Weigh In

I guess we are all used to the fact that the majority of cheeses do have some sort of peculiar odor, but is provolone on the list?

Knowing that it is quite a mild cheese, then surely it shouldn’t smell?

Does it mean the provolone has gone off if it has a distinctive odor?

Is it a problem if the cheese smells like ammonia?

How long is provolone supposed to last anyway? 

Do more aged cheeses smell worse than younger ones?

And don’t forget there are different versions of provolone; does that make a difference?

Let’s sniff out the truth!

Provolone is a mild cheese that does not have a distinctive smell. A pronounced odor will indicate that the cheese has gone bad and should not be consumed. If the provolone smells of ammonia or sewage or has a musty odor, this means it should be thrown away. However, provolone piccante is aged with the use of an enzyme, lipase, which may give it a stronger smell. Typically, provolone lasts for two to three weeks but must be kept refrigerated. Other than an unusual smell, the cheese may turn darker in color, which also indicates it has gone moldy.   

Why Does the Smell of Provolone Cheese Matter?

Knowing whether your food has gone off and shouldn’t be eaten should be a prime concern for your health and safety.

When it comes to cheese, then using the smell as an indicator can be somewhat difficult.

As you are aware, most cheese has a strong smell, some might say unpleasant!

Although, personally, I love the smell of feta, for example, which some people describe as being similar to vomit!

But this is where provolone has an advantage, as a young, mild cheese should not have a distinctive odor.

Therefore, if your provolone smells unusual, then you need to take notice; it could be telling you something!

At most, it should have a milky smell, similar to mozzarella, or perhaps more fruity, depending on the age of the cheese.

So, a definite moldy smell should not be ignored, and as provolone goes bad, it also emits an odor of ammonia or, in the later stages of decomposition, sewage!

Obviously, your cheese should be thrown away at this point.

Now, just to confuse matters, there are different varieties of provolone, some of which have been aged for a longer period.

One example is provolone piccante, which has a sharper, more intense flavor.

This is achieved by the use of lipase, which is an animal enzyme usually sourced from goats.

So, actually, the combination of aging and lipase will give provolone piccante a strong smell. 

What Are the Characteristics of Provolone Cheese?

So, now that we have established whether provolone cheese should smell or not, let me give you a brief description of what else you should look for. 

Provolone is described as a stretched curd cheese made in Italy from cow’s milk.

The true artisans of cheesemaking can mold the provolone into many different shapes, even animals!

It should have a creamy-yellow appearance that is easy to slice and often used on pizza or in grilled sandwiches. 

Some people find the taste to be bland, but I can detect a nutty flavor. 

Provolone can also be smoked which imparts extra aromas.

Why Does Cheese Stink?

My Thoughts

  • Provolone should not have a pronounced smell as it is a mild, young cheese 
  • An odor of ammonia, mold, or sewage means that it should not be consumed
  • The aged variety, provolone piccante, may have a more obvious smell
  • Smoked provolone also has its own unique aroma
  • It is a versatile cheese that can be used in omelets, salads, or grilled sandwiches

I hope you enjoyed this article, and if the subject interests you, have a read of my thought on what makes mozzarella smell like fish!  

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