Why Is Provolone Cheese So Expensive? (Explained!)

If you enjoy this Italian delicacy, you may be wondering why provolone cheese is so expensive.

After all, it’s just made from cow’s milk!

Can provolone only be made in Italy?

That could add to the cost when you factor in transportation.

Is provolone hand-made, does it require any skills to produce?

If provolone is an artisan cheese, then perhaps those who make it are paid a high salary.

Let’s see if we can get to the heart of the matter!

Provolone cheese is expensive because it can only be made in Italy; it has held a Protected Designation of Origin certificate since 1996. Thus, the cost of export and transportation inevitably makes it more expensive. Provolone is also an artisan cheese and is made by hand, requiring some level of experience to successfully stretch the curd. Labor costs also add to the price of the cheese. Storage is another factor, as provolone is typically aged for at least four months before consumption. The milk for the provolone comes only from Friesian cows that graze in the Po Valley, and the care of these animals also adds to the cost of the cheese. 

What Makes Provolone Cheese So Expensive?

Provolone cheese is undoubtedly delicious and perfect for baked ziti, roulades, or quesadillas.

But unfortunately, the price might put you off from using it, as it is quite expensive.

What makes provolone cheese so special to justify the high cost?

The number one reason is that it can only be made in Italy. 

Provolone actually holds a protected Designation of Origin Certificate, and this was awarded in 1996.

These certificates are issued in the European Union and show that a product has been produced in a specific place using local people and local ingredients.

To be more precise, Provolone is only made in Northern Italy because it is produced from milk that comes from a herd of Friesian cows that can only be found in the Po Valley.

So, you can immediately see that provolone does have a certain air of exclusivity about it that would be difficult to replicate!

Obviously, being made only in Italy immediately adds an extra cost to shipping the cheese when you factor in the transportation costs. 

Provolone is also an aged cheese and is not ready for at least four months, meaning it has to be stored somewhere, and that is where another expense comes into the equation. 

The final additional costs are from the salaries of the cheesemakers.

Making provolone is a very skilled process, and everything is done by hand. 

As such, it is known as artisan cheese, and obviously, the cheesemakers expect to be paid more.

The provolone curds have to be stretched and then shaped, which takes time.

Are There Less Expensive Alternatives to Provolone Cheese?   

If you can’t really justify purchasing provolone, it is possible to find alternative options that are less expensive.

Provolone is known for its melting ability and is popular in pasta dishes, so the closest alternative would be mozzarella, which is considerably cheaper.

Fontina is also an Italian cheese made from unpasteurized milk and is typically used for fondues, cheese sauces, or cheese dips in place of provolone.

A less obvious replacement is scamorza, which again is an Italian cheese shaped in a similar way to provolone.  

Unlike provolone, it can be served on its own as baked scamorza, and a little goes a long way, making it more economical. 

A surprising alternative is Monterey Jack cheese, which some people prefer for its much milder flavor.

If you would normally use provolone as a burger topping, then Monterey Jack is a great, and definitely cheaper, option.

Other suggestions include cheddar, gouda, or parmesan if you plan on grating cheese.

How Provolone Cheese is Made

Final Thoughts

Provolone cheese is expensive as it can only be made in Italy.

The high costs of export, transportation, and storage add to its price.

This traditional cheese is made by skilled artisans who command a higher salary.

Cheaper alternatives include mozzarella, Monterey Jack, and scamorza.

However, nothing can beat the true taste of provolone, so why not treat yourself occasionally? 

On a similar subject, here’s my article on whether Parmesan has to be made in Italy.

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