Why is Provolone Bitter? (Answered!)

Provolone is one of my favorite cheeses, but I have to admit that sometimes it tastes bitter. 

If you are not that familiar with it, provolone is an Italian cheese, and it’s produced in a variety of different shapes. 

Typically, it’s quite mild and mellow but occasionally tastes bitter, and that is the problem that I am going to discuss here!

Could it be due to the way it is stored or handled after manufacturing?

Is it due to the ingredients, maybe the use of poor-quality milk?

Could there be mold or bacteria in the provolone?

Let’s discover the bitter truth!

One of the key factors in why provolone tastes bitter is that it has been aged too long. This results in a breakdown of fats and proteins in the cheese leading to a bitter taste. Another reason is that the provolone has been exposed to high temperatures. This can occur during the cheesemaking process or when it is being stored. Ideally, provolone should be aged for a relatively short period of time and stored at a lower temperature. When eating provolone, pairing it with acidic or sweet foods can help restore the balance and take away the bitter taste.   

What Makes Provolone Cheese Bitter?

You are probably aware that provolone is typically a mild-flavored cheese, therefore, it can come as a surprise if you find it has a bitter taste.

And bearing in mind it can be expensive, this can be quite frustrating. 

It can only be made in Northern Italy and is usually aged for about four months.

There are two varieties – sweet or spicy, but neither should be bitter!

The main factor that influences the bitterness of the cheese is the period of time it has been aged. 

Even the spicy piccante provolone should not be matured for more than a year, and the sweeter version, three or four months at most.

As the cheese ages, the proteins and fats break down, which affects the aroma and taste.

The older the provolone, the more likely it is to be bitter.

The temperature at which the provolone is stored also plays a part in whether it could develop a bitter taste.

Exposure to high temperatures has a detrimental effect on the cheese.

As mentioned earlier, true provolone is only made in Italy, but there are some American versions.

These inevitably have a different flavor and are generally milder, but they are not made using the milk from the Po Valley cows.

American provolone is more likely to have a bitter aftertaste through the use of lower-quality milk.

Are There Any Ways to Make Provolone Cheese Less Bitter?

Realistically, once you have opened and tasted the provolone, there is very little you can do to change the bitter taste.  

The best you can do is to serve it with sweet or acidic foods to even out the flavors.

Prior to opening it, ensure it is stored at a low temperature, preferably refrigerated rather than room temperature.

Check the provolone carefully to ensure it shows no sign of mold. 

Unlike some cheeses where mold or bacteria are purposely introduced, provolone should not have a strong smell.  

If it does, this could indicate the provolone has gone off and should not be consumed.

And when you purchase the cheese, check the label to ensure it doesn’t have too many preservatives or additives, as this can also make the provolone bitter.

How Provolone is Made

My Thoughts

  • Provolone should not have a bitter taste, and this could be a result of it being aged for too long
  • Storage at high temperatures can result in a bitter aftertaste
  • Matching provolone with sweet or acidic foods helps to take away the bitterness
  • American provolone is usually milder, but using lower-quality milk can cause a bitter taste.
  • There should be no sign of mold, and a bitter taste could indicate the provolone has gone off 

I hope you continue to enjoy your provolone, and an occasional poor purchase does not put you off this versatile cheese!

For further information about the price of this particular cheese, please read my article on why provolone costs so much

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