Provolone Is Not Dairy-Free. Use These Substitutes!

Last Updated on July 27, 2023 by Aaron

Dairy products are foodstuffs that are derived from the milk of mammals, such as cows, sheep, and goats. Cheese, including provolone, is a dairy product because it is made from milk. The process of provolone cheese making involves coagulating the milk protein casein and then draining off the whey, the liquid part of the milk. The solid mass that’s left is shaped and aged to produce cheese.

Therefore no, provolone cheese is not dairy-free.

If someone is lactose intolerant, they lack the enzyme lactase which breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. Consuming dairy can cause digestive distress in these individuals, including symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

Dairy allergies, on the other hand, involve an immune response to one or more proteins in milk, such as casein or whey. Symptoms can be more severe and wide-ranging than lactose intolerance, and may include skin reactions, respiratory symptoms, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

However, if you are lactose intolerant, it’s worth noting that many hard and aged cheeses, such as cheddar and Swiss, are naturally low in lactose, and some individuals with lactose intolerance may still be able to consume them without discomfort. Provolone is a semi-hard cheese, and may also be lower in lactose than soft cheeses or milk, but individual reactions can vary. Read about lactose in provolone and whether should you eat it.

The Dairy-free Substitutes for Provolone Cheese

Vegans abstain from consuming any animal products or by-products for ethical, environmental, or health reasons, which includes dairy products like cheese.

For those who can’t or choose not to consume dairy, there are a variety of plant-based cheese substitutes available, made from ingredients like nuts, soy, or root vegetables. These alternatives are often fortified to provide similar levels of nutrients to the dairy products they replace, and are flavored and textured to mimic the sensory experience of dairy as closely as possible.

  1. Soy-Based Cheese: This type of cheese substitute is made from soy, a plant protein. These cheeses often melt well, which makes them a suitable alternative for uses like sandwiches or pizzas where provolone might typically be used. The flavor and texture can be quite similar to dairy-based cheese.
  2. Almond Cheese: Almond cheese is made from almonds, which are soaked, blended, and then fermented with the same types of bacteria used to make dairy cheese. The end result is a product with a texture similar to that of dairy cheese. Different flavors can be added to mimic various types of cheese, potentially including provolone.
  3. Pea Protein Cheese: Pea protein cheese is a newer type of vegan cheese that’s growing in popularity. Made from the protein of peas, it has a similar texture to dairy cheese and is often available in various flavors, including options that might mimic the taste of provolone. It’s a good source of plant-based protein and is often free from common allergens like nuts and soy.

When looking for a provolone substitute, try to find a product that is not only dairy-free but also has a similar semi-hard texture and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Remember, though, that taste is subjective, and what works well for one person might not work as well for another. It might take a bit of trial and error to find the perfect dairy-free cheese for you.

Additionally, always check the label when buying dairy-free products. Some items labeled as “lactose-free” may still contain casein, a milk-derived protein, and thus are not completely dairy-free.

Similarly, some products might be processed in facilities that also process dairy, which could be a concern for those with severe milk allergies.

Dairy-free (Vegan) Provolone Brands

Here are a few popular brands that offer dairy-free cheese alternatives that could be used as a substitute for provolone:

  1. Daiya: Daiya is a widely available brand that makes a variety of dairy-free products, including cheese. Their Provolone Style Slices are a popular choice for those seeking a provolone substitute.
  2. Follow Your Heart: Follow Your Heart offers a range of dairy-free cheeses, including a Provolone style that comes in block and slice form. Their products are known for their creamy texture and ability to melt well.
  3. Violife: Violife is another brand that offers a variety of dairy-free cheeses. They offer a Just Like Provolone Slices option, which has received positive reviews for its flavor and texture.
  4. Field Roast’s Chao Creamery: Their Creamy Original slices are coconut-based, but have a flavor and texture that’s often compared favorably to provolone. Their CHAO cheese slices are said to be in between Swiss and provolone, but slightly milder.
  5. Miyoko’s Creamery: While Miyoko’s does not have a provolone-specific product, they are known for their high-quality, artisanal dairy-free cheeses. Their Mozzarella or Pepper Jack could be a good choice for someone seeking a meltable, flavorful cheese substitute.

Remember, taste is highly subjective and individual reactions to these products can vary, so you might want to try a few different brands to see which one you prefer.

Homemade Provolone-like Vegan Cheese: Tips

Creating a homemade provolone-like vegan cheese can be an interesting project. Nut-based cheeses are often a good place to start, as they can mimic the texture and flavor of traditional cheeses quite well.

The result will be a block of vegan cheese with a somewhat firm texture that you can slice. The nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar provide a tangy, cheesy flavor, and the cashews give it a creamy consistency. Here are basic recipes for vegan provolone like this and also smoked provolone versions like this one.

Agar agar, the ingredient that allows the cheese to set, can be found in health food stores or ordered online. Remember, homemade vegan cheeses won’t melt exactly like dairy cheeses, but they can still be delicious on a sandwich or a cracker, or in a salad. If you want a melty cheese, you may need to experiment with adding ingredients like tapioca starch or refined coconut oil.

This recipe is quite flexible, and you can adjust the ingredients to better suit your personal taste. If you want a stronger flavor, you could add more nutritional yeast, or include other flavorings like white miso paste or smoked paprika. Making vegan cheese at home takes a bit of experimentation to get right, but it can be a fun and rewarding process!

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