Forget American cheese, we have two awesome cheese to talk about here – feta and provolone. Feta is a popular Greek cheese, while provolone is an Italian cheese. They taste absolutely out of the world, but what’s the difference? and which one is actually better?
Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep or goat milk, or in combination. Provolone is an Italian cheese made from cow milk. They both aged for at least 3 months before marketable. Feta aged in brined water, making it soft and crumbly. Provolone is a stretched-curd cheese made into pear-like shape with knob for hanging (aging). It has a semi-hard and firm, yet smooth texture.
Provolone melts and serve well on sandwich, pizza or casserole. Feta doesn’t melt or melt poorly, it becomes soft and gooey when heated.
I am sure you will ask which one is healthier, I’ve got your back. I compiled a nutritional comparison table for you below, keep reading.
But abstract doesn’t quite cut it, let’s mash a feta.
Why is Feta better? or is it?
When we say Greek cheese, the first that hits your head is most likely the feta cheese.
Feta cheese is like a go-to cheese in Mediterranean cuisine. It lifts the flavor of plant-forward diet, making it goes from ugh to hmm. Feta cheese pairs really well with vegetable, fruit, and bread – As how Chef Ramsay put it (maybe), “It’s bland!”.
Greek feta has a PDO certification, means it can only be produced in certain regions in Greece to be officially claimed “Feta” – That’s the mainland Greece and Lesbos Prefecture. But you know, truth be told, we have many “feta” out there.
Feta cheese made traditionally by mixing >70% of sheep milk and goat milk, as per PDO. But many feta varieties now also include cow milk, or buffalo milk.
Depending on how it’s produced, where it’s made and the aging duration, feta comes in many different types and varieties too. We have the soft/crumbly feta, firm feta, dry feta, sharp feta, mild feta, and hard feta. As for the taste, this article from bonappetit.com elaborated that sheep milk produced the sharpest feta, while goat milk version is milder. Geographically, Bulgarian feta is saltiest and firm; French feta is soft, mild and creamy; Greek feta is crumbly, tangy and sharp.
More importantly, it go with different recipes.
There is a special umami (or savory) taste of feta, I explained more in this article.
Feta is not a good melting cheese and doesn’t go stringy like mozzarella. It’s still meltable but perform poorly, where it would turn into gooey, runny, flour-like substance. You can use microwave to melt feta and yep, good luck with that.
Once you’ve tried that, trust me, you will only do feta with sandwich for the rest of your life.
For some reason, I was asked why feta smell like feet, oh really people.
If you’re fans of sandwiches, you’re probably familiar with provolone. It became widely popular in the U.S. once being featured on Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. It compliments the flavors of most sandwiches and subs, and melts nicely.
Provolone is an Italian cheese with semi-hard and grainy texture. It’s firm but not hard, in fact it’s actually smooth when you slice it.
The well aged provolone tastes like mozzarella but 5x more flavorful with pronounced stronger taste. Provolone is actually a cousin of mozzarella, they both made with stretched-curd method, but mozzarella is eaten fresh while provolone has to be aged for a long time. Source of milk are different as well, I have a comparison article provolone vs mozzarella here.
There are two types of Provolone – dolce and piccante, which refers to young and old provolone. Dolce usually aged for about 2-3 months, whereas piccante aged for 3-12 months, some may go years.
As for its flavor profile, piccante is drier, with good pungent aroma, and sharper. Dolce is creamy, milder and sweeter. The local made provolone in the U.S. taste milder, and is similar to dolce.
The Healthy and The Healthier
*1 slice (1 oz) serving of provolone and feta
|Calories||100 Kcal||70 Kcal|
|Protein||7 g||5.01 g|
|Total fat||7 g||5.99 g|
|Carbohydrate||1 g||0 g|
|Sodium||250 mg||280 mg|
|Saturated fat||5.01 g||4.51 g|
|Cholesterol||19.9 mg||15.1 mg|
Nutrition wise, there isn’t much differences between provolone and feta. However, if you aware of histamine intake in your diet, feta can have a higher histamine level.
Also, since feta is made from sheep and goat milk, it will naturally contain more calcium and phosphorus than cow’s milk.
Pound for pound, the total fat and saturated fat content in both provolone (7g) and feta (6g) are comparable.
So feta or provolone?
Well, it depends on how you use them. You can substitute feta for provolone, say to use in sandwich or recipes you see fit.
For table cheese that go with wine, bread or fruit, feta seems to be a no-brainer because it’s milder. Sure you can switch it to provolone dolce too, it’s on you.
But when it comes to nice ozzes, good melting cheese, provolone is the one to go. Feta don’t really melt.