Firm to hard cheese: low temperature: Provolone, Cheddar


The manufacturing procedures for Pasta Filata types (Mozzarella and Pizza cheese) and Provolone are similar. These cheese are made using the principle of working or kneading the curd to produce the desired melting and stretching properties. The principal differences are: (1) Pasta Filata types contain less fat than Provolone; (2) In addition to mesophilic cultures, Provolone requires thermophilic starters to promote curing while the Pasta Filata types are usually made with mesophilic starters which are destroyed or severely retarded during the process of working. (3) Provolone is suspended with ropes at 85% humidity for curing. The following procedure is for Provolone.

Standards: 45% moisture; 24% fat.


  1. Standardize milk to P/F = 1.17 and pasteurize.
  2. Add 1 to 2% mesophilic starter and thermophilic starter (S. thermophilus and L. bulgaricus) Ripen at 300C for 1 hr. or until acidity increases 0.01%.
  3. Add lipase enzymes as directed by manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Measure 190 ml rennet per 1,000 kg milk. Dilute the rennet with 10 volumes of water and add the mixture to the milk. Milk should set in 30 min.
  5. Cut when curd is firm with 1/4" (6.4 mm) knives.
  6. Agitate gently for 10 min. and then cook according to the Cheddar heating schedule to a final temperature of 39C in 30 min.
  7. Stir the curd and whey for about 10 min., then allow the curd to settle for 5 min. Drain 1/3 of the whey and store it in a cylindrical vat for use in Ricotta cheese manufacture. Resume agitation until the pH of the whey is 6.1 - 6.2. Then allow the curd to settle for 5 min. before removing the remaining whey.
  8. Form the curd into a continuous slab 12 - 20 cm (5 - 8") deep and 45 cm (18") wide along the sides of the vat. Trim the edges and put loose curd under the slab.
  9. After 10 min. cut the slab into blocks 20 - 30 cm (8 - 12") wide and turn every 15 min. until the pH is 5.4. Pile the blocks two high on the third turn.
  10. When cheese pH is 5.4 and curd strings in 77C water, mill or cut the curd into strips as in Cheddar cheese manufacture. If stretching is to done by hand, wait until the pH is 5.2 - 5.0. Test the curd by dipping a small piece in hot water for 30-45 s or until the whole piece is heated to 55-60C. Remove the curd from the water and stretch. When the curd is ready to work, it should stretch easily to 25 - 50 cm without breaking. Do not hurry to start working.
  11. Work the curd in a mechanical stretch machine. Or, if working and stretching is to be done by hand, cover the curd with its weight of hot (>70C) water. Fuse, stretch and work curd until it looks and stretches like taffy. The internal temperature (greater than 50C) and pH (5.3 - 5.0) must be right for this appearance. Work and roll the stretched curd into desired shapes. Beginners will not want to make the large styles at the first attempt. Learn to seal the ends of the curd first. Keep curd hot while working by dipping it in the hot water. When the curd is formed and sealed, drop it in cold water until chilled and hardened in shape. If the curd gets to hot (>60C) or remains in the hot water too long, it will lose stretchability and mouldability.
  12. Float the curd in 22% salt brine. Salting time depends on the size of the cheese. Most of the cheeses made in our teaching labs at Guelph are less than 1 kg. Three to four hours of brining is sufficient for these small cheeses.
  13. Hang the cheese in the conventional smooth rope or plastic netting. The cheese may be lightly smoked in a cool room for 2 - 4 hrs. Alternatively, vacuum pack the cheese.

Process and Qaulity Control Notes

  • The pH at the time of draining is critical to the retention of calcium in the curd, and Ca is a principal determinant of curd strength. For a stronger curd drain the whey at higher pH to retain more Ca.
  • Other pasta filata cheese such as Mozzarella and Pizza are close cousins of Provolone. Pasta filata cheese intended for use on pizza or similar application should be aged for 10-12 days to improve melting properties. This effect is possibly due to proteolysis or perhaps due to equilibration reactions among casein and the Ca salts of phosphate and citrate.


Standards: 39% moisture, 30% fat.


  1. Standardize milk to P/F = 0.91, pasteurize and cool to 31C before adding starter. Note a P/F ratio of .94 - .96 will produce a legal cheese with respect to fat content (31% fat wet basis, or 50% fat dry basis). However, a somewhat lower P/F ratio incorporates more fat in the cheese which is economically desirable when the price of milk protein exceeds the price of milk fat.
  2. Add 1% of S. lactis and/or S. cremoris starter. Ripen until acidity increases by 0.01% or until pH decreases by 0.05 units (about 1 h.).
  3. Measure 70 ml cheese colour per 1,000 kg milk (optional). Dilute the colour with 10 volumes of water and add the mixture to the milk
  4. Measure 190 ml rennet per 1,000 kg milk. Dilute the rennet with 10 volumes of water and add the mixture to the milk.
  5. Cut, using 3/8 inch (95 mm) knives when curd is firm. Agitate gently.
  6. Start cooking 15 min after cutting. Increase temperature from 30C to 390C during 30 minutes. Heat slowly at first - no more than 1C every 5 min.
  7. Hold at 39C until pH is 6.1 (about 75 min from the time the temperature reaches 39C or 2 h from the time of cutting). If the acidity is increasing too quickly, the temperature may be raised slightly (maximum 40C) to retard the culture.
  8. When curd pH is 6.0-6.1 (whey pH 6.2-6.3) remove the whey. After the bulk of the whey is removed stir out the curd two or three times to facilitate maximum whey drainage.
  9. Pile the curd 13-15 cm deep along the sides of the vat and allow to mat. After about 10 min, trim the front edge and cut the curd into blocks about 25 cm wide. Turn the blocks every 15 min until the pH is 5.4-5.3 (about 2 h after dipping). At the second turn, pile the blocks two high and then three high at the third turn.
  10. Cut the blocks of curd into 10-13 cm (4-5 inch) strips and pass the strips through the curd mill. Stir the cheese curds every ten min or so until the cut edges become round and smooth (about 30 min after milling).
  11. Distribute the salt uniformly over the curd and mix well. The final salt content of the cheese should be about 1.7%. Calculate the required amount of salt as follows:\
    1. Estimate cheese yield as: Yield = (% fat + % protein) k where k is a factor dependent on cheese moisture. K values corresponding to 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39% moisture are 1.40, 1.42, 1.44, 1.46 and 1.48, respectively.
    2. The required amount of salt is 2.5% of the estimated yield. This value is higher than the final 1.7% content because considerable whey drainage occurs after salting.
  12. After the salt is well absorbed and the flow of whey has stopped, the curd is ready for hooping. Use 20 lb (9 kg) hoops and place 22 lb of curd in each hoop. The hoops should be lined with plastic, single service press cloths.
  13. Press overnight at 75 kPa (10 - 20 lbs/in2). Start with low pressure and gradually increase to 75 kPa. Vacuum treatment to remove air from the cheese and increase the rate of cooling may be applied during or after pressing. In modern commercial practice, pressing is often shortened to as little as one hour.
  14. Vacuum pack the cheese blocks and store at 0-16C for curing. Cold curing (5-8C) produces the best cheese but ripening is slow. Warm cured cheese (10-16C) develops flavour rapidly but quality control is more difficult. Raw milk cheese by law must be "held at 2C or more for a period of 60 days or more from the date of the beginning of the manufacturing process". (Canadian Food and Drug Act and Regulations Sections B.08.030 and B.08.042 to B.08.048).


Special samples for grading should be kept at 14.4-15.5C for 21 days after the date of manufacture. These samples cured at high temperature give an indication of the probable quality of the aged cheese. If, in the judgement of the grader, the cheese is not sufficiently mature to properly assess its quality, the grading should be deferred until it has reached a suitable maturity. Other samples should be taken from the curing room at about 3 and 6 months during a 9 month curing period.