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Author Topic: Homemade Provel Cheese  (Read 4634 times)

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Offline HouseofProvel

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Homemade Provel Cheese
« on: January 17, 2023, 11:28:36 PM »
I've been making my own homemade Provel cheese for a little while now and thought it would be fun to share what I have learned along the way.

Needed Equipment
Cheese shredder
Medium sized pot
Whisk or silicone spatula
Heat proof plastic or metal container
Plastic wrap

Cheese
Provel is traditionally made with White Cheddar, Provolone, and Swiss but you can use any combination of good melting cheeses (Swiss, Cheddar, Provolone, Colby, Gouda, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Brick Cheese, Havarti, Muenster, Fontina, Gruyere). However if you want your Provel to be that traditional white color you'll want to avoid using yellow or orange colored cheese.

The flavor notes for Provel are salty, creamy, a little smokey, and a little sharp. Hit those notes and you have Provel. Don't feel like you're stuck with using Cheddar, Provolone, and Swiss. Make your Provel with the cheeses that you like best and omit anything you don't like.

Liquid
For your liquid you can use anything from water, milk, whole milk, or heavy cream. You want to keep in mind that you are watering down your cheese with this and the more liquid you use the softer in texture your final cheese will be. I like to keep my liquid at about 15% of the total cheese weight. This will get you a firmness about the same as low moisture mozzarella. Using something like 30% or more of the total cheese weight that many of the recipes I've found online for American cheese made something closer to Velveeta in texture. I was not a huge fan of how soft that made the cheese.

I also do not recommend using water for your liquid. It seems to water down the flavors of the cheese a little much for me. I find heavy cream to give the best flavor but whole milk is also good if you don't like how creamy traditional Provel can be.

Smoke
If you are using liquid smoke here I recommend adding it at the same time you add your liquid to the pot. Also try to use something that is just the smoke flavoring and not a lot of additives. Wright's brand of liquid smoke is just water and smoke flavor so they are my normal go to when I have to use liquid smoke.

The better option is to use an already smoked cheese. Personally I love using Red Apple brand smoked cheese because the apple wood smoke gives my Provel a scent that reminds me of a really good bacon cheese burger. If you are using a smoked cheese I recommend using something with a strong but still good smoke flavor and only up to a max 1/3rd of your total cheese weight. I normally make my Provel with a smoked cheese being 1/4th of the total cheese weight.

Add-ins
If you are going to add in something like red pepper flakes, caramelized onions, fresh or roasted garlic, bacon, or anything else to flavor your Provel you should add it at the same time as the liquid.

Steps
1 Shred your cheese and add them to their own zip top bags. You can put the cheese in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to make it easier to shred. Make sure to mark the bags with the name of the cheese and the date you shredded them if you are not going to use it all the same day.

2 Weigh out your cheeses, liquid, sodium citrate, and salt according to your recipe. Keep in mind you want your liquid to be about 15% to 20% of your total cheese weight. Sodium citrate should be about 3% of your total cheese weight. Salt about 1% to 1.5% of your total cheese weight.

3 Add your liquid, sodium citrate, salt, liquid smoke if using, and any add-ins to your pot. Mix well and heat over medium-low heat until it gets to about 150F or 66C.

4 Add in your shredded cheese about a handful at a time. Mix well and once your first handful of cheese has nearly fully melted add in another handful and keep mixing. Repeat as needed until all your cheese has been added and melted.

*Note: Watch your heat and if it seems like things are getting a little crispy or sticking to the bottom lower your heat and add in some more cold cheese.

Pour your cheese sauce into a container lined with plastic wrap. Make sure to use enough plastic wrap to also wrap the top of your cheese to prevent it from getting a skin. Wait to wrap the top of the cheese for at least 30 minutes to prevent the top from steaming.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. 24 hours is recommended.

Traditional Flavor Recipe
133 grams Swiss
133 grams White Cheddar
133 grams Provolone
60 grams Heavy Cream (15%)
13 grams Sodium Citrate (about 3%)
5 grams Salt (about 1.3% to 1.5%)
3 to 4 drops Hickory or Mesquite liquid smoke

HouseOfProvel's Provel
100 grams Provolone
100 grams Applewood Smoked Gouda
100 grams Sharp White Cheddar
100 grams Monterey Jack
60 grams Heavy Cream
13 grams Sodium Citrate
5 grams Salt

If you want to watch a video on how to make American Cheese / Provel I recommend watching Gavin Webber's How to Make American Cheese and/or GlenAndFriendsCooking Processed American Cheese Recipe

Amazon Link to buy Sodium Citrate
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PKHAQDY/?tag=pmak-20

Online foreplease

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2023, 12:57:59 AM »
Nice write up and interesting post, HouseofProvel!
-Tony

Offline kbrede

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2023, 01:50:30 AM »
Interesting. I might have to try this. Bookmarked 😁
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Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2023, 08:22:17 AM »
Wanted to add this is what a pizza made with the homemade provel looks like.

I'll try to make a plain Mozzarella pizza and plain Provel pizza this weekend to show the differences better.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2023, 09:19:47 AM by HouseofProvel »

Online Pizza_Not_War

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2023, 10:24:57 AM »
Have you tried just adding a mix of those cheeses on pizza without the rest of the process?

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Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2023, 11:17:33 AM »
Have you tried just adding a mix of those cheeses on pizza without the rest of the process?

I have and its not the same texture or flavor. Its hard for me to describe. St. Louis style pizza uses Provel as its cheese and it has a unique cheese texture and flavor that you cant replicate by just putting the Provel's parent cheeses on the pizza. The unprocessed cheese just doesnt work the same way.

Its kinda like the difference between a burger made with Cheddar or with American cheese. Its similar but its not the same thing.

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2023, 12:44:30 PM »
This is making me wonder if you did the same with mozzarella and Munster would you end up with something similar to brick cheese. I've blended the two shredded on top of a pizza, but maybe the extra step would produce different results.

Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2023, 02:27:30 AM »
Made 3 10 inch thin crust pizzas the same way other than the cheese. The first is Homemade Provel, 2nd is Trader Joe's whole milk Mozzarella, last is a mix of Provel cheeses (White Cheddar, Provolone, Smoked Gouda, and Monterey Jack) just shredded and mixed together.

Crust - 125g | Cheese - 90g | Sauce - 70g | Cooked at 475F for 11min.

Homemade Provel cheese, the cheese and sauce seemed to combine together and was very creamy and flavorful.

Mozzarella, kinda bland but had a stronger texture compared to the Provel and you could really taste the sauce and crust better.

Provel Mix, more flavor than the Mozzarella but it did not combine into the sauce like the Provel and had a similar texture to the mozzarella. It kinda tasted like the Provel but was missing the creamy texture and flavor.


Edit: Forgot to note the bottom Provel Mix pizza had some dough bubbles that are unrelated to the cheese. The top Provel pizza had some cheese bubbles form that are very thin and kinda crispy cheese domes and under the domes is very soft/runny cheese.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2023, 08:39:39 AM by HouseofProvel »

Online foreplease

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2023, 06:43:01 AM »
Thatís a great demonstration!
-Tony

Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2023, 12:41:04 PM »
If anyone wondered about how the homemade Provel shreds here is a photo of some shredded Provel next to some shredded whole milk mozzarella. Homemade Provel is on the left and Mozzarella on the right. They seemed to shred about the same.

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Offline tracy

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2023, 09:42:08 AM »
HouseofProvel got a nod in the Riverfront Times a couple of months ago!

Have you ever tried substituting mozzarella for the white cheddar in the traditional white cheddar, provolone, and swiss triad?  My local Chefstore does not sell white cheddar (only yellow) but I can get the other three in bulk blocks.  Otherwise, I could just use the yellow cheddar since the difference is only aesthetics or source smaller blocks of white cheddar from my local grocery store at a higher cost.  Additionally, have you tried freezing the homemade provel or have any idea how it stands up to freeze/thaw cycles? 

The only provel that is available locally is the IMO's branded ropes and shreds at a cost of $12 a pound, which I am hesitant to pay, and the quality doesn't seem great.

Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2023, 09:40:20 PM »
HouseofProvel got a nod in the Riverfront Times a couple of months ago!

Have you ever tried substituting mozzarella for the white cheddar in the traditional white cheddar, provolone, and swiss triad?  My local Chefstore does not sell white cheddar (only yellow) but I can get the other three in bulk blocks.  Otherwise, I could just use the yellow cheddar since the difference is only aesthetics or source smaller blocks of white cheddar from my local grocery store at a higher cost.  Additionally, have you tried freezing the homemade provel or have any idea how it stands up to freeze/thaw cycles? 

The only provel that is available locally is the IMO's branded ropes and shreds at a cost of $12 a pound, which I am hesitant to pay, and the quality doesn't seem great.

The Riverfront Times people asked me if I wanted to do an interview on the homemade Provel before the article. I declined cause I'm rather awkward and didn't know how that would go. I'm glad they did it anyway. I just didn't want to be involved in the process.

I've substituted Mozzarella for White Cheddar before. Its a little blander than normal and you lose that Cheddar tang but its still good. Using the Yellow Cheddar will make the Provel not as white but the flavor shouldn't be effected and it should cook to about the same color anyway. If you've ever had Cecil Whittaker's their Provel is made with Cheddar, Colby, Swiss and Mozzarella cheeses. Your Provel may end up looking like Cecil Whittaker's but that isnt really a bad thing. It should still taste great and be better than the stuff with the Imo's branding on it.

I've also frozen my Provel before but only for about a month. Freezing and slowly thawing in the fridge over a day or so didnt seem to effect the quality.

The best tip I can give for cheese selection is if you don't like the cheese on its own then you probably wont like it in your Provel either. The more you like the individual cheeses the more you will like your Provel.

Good luck with your cheese making!

Offline tracy

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2023, 10:10:17 PM »
Using the Yellow Cheddar will make the Provel not as white but the flavor shouldn't be effected and it should cook to about the same color anyway. If you've ever had Cecil Whittaker's their Provel is made with Cheddar, Colby, Swiss and Mozzarella cheeses. Your Provel may end up looking like Cecil Whittaker's but that isnt really a bad thing. It should still taste great and be better than the stuff with the Imo's branding on it.

Gotcha, that's good to know.  I am indeed familiar with Cecil Whittaker's, though I haven't had it in years.  That was my aunt and uncle's preferred local chain growing up.  I'll have to see what else Chefstore has this weekend.  I know they have log provolone, swiss, mozzarella, and several types of yellow cheddar.  I know they don't have muenster, which I was hoping to use as a substitute for brick cheese.  I'll keep an eye out for the colby. 

Ordered the sodium citrate, so hoping to make some process cheese on Sunday. 

As a follow up, what's the largest batch you've made at once?  I have a vacuum sealer, so I was thinking about making a large batch (several pounds), and then portioning it and freezing it in individual portions.

Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2023, 11:42:25 PM »
Gotcha, that's good to know.  I am indeed familiar with Cecil Whittaker's, though I haven't had it in years.  That was my aunt and uncle's preferred local chain growing up.  I'll have to see what else Chefstore has this weekend.  I know they have log provolone, swiss, mozzarella, and several types of yellow cheddar.  I know they don't have muenster, which I was hoping to use as a substitute for brick cheese.  I'll keep an eye out for the colby. 

Ordered the sodium citrate, so hoping to make some process cheese on Sunday. 

As a follow up, what's the largest batch you've made at once?  I have a vacuum sealer, so I was thinking about making a large batch (several pounds), and then portioning it and freezing it in individual portions.

The most I've ever made is 2lbs in one batch. I found it too hard to keep bits from burning to the bottom of my pot past that but that just could be the pots I have. I don't have any special setup to make Provel and it seems to work just fine for me when I go in small batches.

I also vacuum seal mine when I'm making a bunch of 1lb batches. The cheese freezes great on its own in brick form in the vacuum packs but if I pre-slice the cheese I will put a square of either butcher paper or wax paper in between each layer to keep them from sticking.

Offline tracy

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2023, 09:27:48 PM »
First thin crust Iíve made with the homemade provel from last week. Turned out quite well, much better than the prepackaged stuff.

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Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2023, 11:20:48 AM »
First thin crust Iíve made with the homemade provel from last week. Turned out quite well, much better than the prepackaged stuff.

Excellent work! Did the cheese have the texture and flavor you were looking for?

Offline tracy

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2023, 10:30:40 PM »
Texture wasn't exactly the same as I remember from the local Italian restaurants, but the flavor was spot on.  Much better than just straight mozzarella.  Think the next batch might need a drop or two more of the liquid smoke.  Definitely going to continue making my own.  Thanks for the work in figuring the process out!

Offline HouseofProvel

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2023, 12:30:38 AM »
Welcome!

I did make some Provel this weekend using some different ingredients that turned out great.

Pepper Provel
133 grams Brick Cheese
133 grams Monterey Jack
133 grams Polly-o Smoked Mozzarella
60 grams Heavy Cream
5 grams Salt
13 grams Sodium Citrate
15 grams Red and Green Jalapenos

The green jalapenos were the normal sliced and pickled kind from a jar. The red jalapenos were from La Morena in a can with adobo sauce.

Both were patted dry and fine diced.

Offline tracy

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2023, 09:23:37 AM »
Looks good.  Were you able to taste the chilies in the resultant cheese?

You're able to find brick cheese in Missouri?  Do you mind if I ask where?  My family is still in St. Louis, so I could maybe pick some up next time I visit.

Online foreplease

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Re: Homemade Provel Cheese
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2023, 08:27:56 AM »
As a follow up, what's the largest batch you've made at once?  I have a vacuum sealer, so I was thinking about making a large batch (several pounds), and then portioning it and freezing it in individual portions.
The most I've ever made is 2lbs in one batch. I found it too hard to keep bits from burning to the bottom of my pot past that but that just could be the pots I have. I don't have any special setup to make Provel and it seems to work just fine for me when I go in small batches.
Would using a double-boiler made up with pans you already have solve this problem?
-Tony

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