How To Tell If Provolone Cheese Is Bad? 5 Signs Must Know

Provolone cheese is one of the famous dairy products used in Italian cuisine. It has become more and more recommended in the cooking community thanks to its distinctive smell and flavor.

Similar to other dairy products, provolone cheese has a short shelf life. With the milk composition, which gets spoiled easily when exposed to the air, provolone cheese can be inedible after a short period if not properly stored. 

So, how to tell if provolone cheese is bad? Scroll down to find out some tips, and then learn how to store it correctly. 

What Is Provolone Cheese?

What is provolone cheese? For lots of people, they still don’t know much about provolone. It is reasonable since this cheese is more famous in Italy and other European countries than in the States.

In short, provolone cheese is a product made from cow milk mixed with heated whey and kneaded to a semi-soft consistency. Looking from the outside, provolone cheese is yellowish, soft, creamy, and pliable.

The provolone cheese is known to be various in terms of shapes and sizes. There is a variety of taste’s boldness and consistency for you to choose from.

In terms of taste, provolone cheese is made from Friesian cows’ milk. Such origin makes the milk creamy, rich, fresh, and velvety. 

How To Tell If Provolone Cheese Is Bad?

how to tell if provolone cheese is bad
Bad Provolone Cheese

As mentioned above, provolone cheese has a short shelf life because of its milk origin. To make use of the provolone cheese at its best, you must know how long it lasts and, if it turns bad, how to tell it immediately? 

This section will introduce you to 5 factors to quickly test the state of your provolone cheese. They are all subjective but still reliable because they are based on scientific facts.

1. Smell

cheese was Smell off
cheese was Smell off

The most recognizable sign to tell if provolone cheese is bad is the smell. Typically, provolone cheese does not have a strong, uncomforting smell. Some people reported that it is quite stinky, but just at the mild level. 

Therefore, if your provolone cheese has a stronger, more pungent odor than normal, like the smell of sewage or ammonia, then something must be wrong. Throw it out right away.

2. No Elasticity 

cheese is No Elasticity
cheese is No Elasticity

Provolone cheese is known for having a smooth and elastic texture. If the food isn’t as stretchy as before, the cheese is not in the “normal” state.

That being said, when taking out the provolone cheese to cook, you must check carefully if the cheese is buttery, soft, smooth, and elastic as standard or not. If the answer is no, discard the cheese, too.

3. Off-color spots

Off-color spots
Off-color spots

After checking the smell and the elasticity, now it’s time to test whether there are some discoloration spots on the cheese’s texture. 

Ideally, the standard provolone cheese needs to have a yellowish-white scent with no spots on the surface. If you see any weird spots or the color of the cheese is not as light yellow as expected, that cheese may be spoiled.

4. Moldy signs

Moldy cheese
Moldy cheese

Whenever you see mold on the provolone cheese, throw that food away immediately. The mold indicates that your cheese has too many bacteria and microorganisms growing, at the level that the food is inedible or even intoxicated.

In some cases, if the mold is still tiny and there is no strongly uncomfortable smell, feel free to cut away the molded area and an inch surrounding the mold. The other part of the cheese is still good enough to cook.

Still, the best suggestion we can give you is that: Please throw away the whole piece.

5. Darken Color And Slimy Texture

Darken Color And Slimy Texture
Darken Color And Slimy Texture

Provolone cheese is creamy, semi-soft with a mild fragrance and yellowish-white color. If you see the color of the cheese is not as bright as before, that cheese is undergoing the spoilage process.

Additionally, the cheese also loses the creamy texture and develops a slimy surface. You can definitely feel it when you use a spoon to press it slightly.

If you see these two signs – discoloration and slimy texture – you should discard the cheese promptly.

How Long Does Provolone Cheese Last?

Now that we know how to tell if provolone cheese turns bad, let’s move to the next part – how long does provolone cheese last in the fridge? Regarding this issue, the answer would vary differently depending on some factors.

Three factors that affect the deli cheese shelf life are: storage condition, the form of the cheese, and whether the cheese package is opened or not.

How long is deli cheese good for in the fridge? Well, if you store the full package in there, there are two cases: if the box is opened, it will last for 3-4 weeks. Once the box is unopened, it will last for at least two months.

Meanwhile, if you put the unopened slices of provolone in the fridge, it can stay for about one month, while the opened slices last for two weeks maximum. 

The shredded or grated provolone cheese can only stay one week past the expiry date if you put it in the fridge. However, when you open the grated cheese already, you must use it before the expiry date.

How To Store Provolone Cheese To Expand Its Shelf Life?

If you have known how long is provolone cheese good for, then you should be wondering about the right way to store provolone cheese for a longer period.

After years of experience, we have come up with four tips to expand cheese’s shelf life. Scroll down to discover! 

Keep It Away From Heat

The first point we want to mention is: keep the cheese away from heat, please! Provolone cheese is made from cow milk which contains a high amount of heat-sensitive bacterias. 

If you expose the milk to heat, the milk will always turn bad quickly. So do dairy products like provolone cheese. Besides, mold will multiply fast under high temperatures and cause a bad smell.

Store At Room Temperature

That being said, you should keep the cheese in dry, cool places to avoid spoilage. Typically, if you let it sit at room temperature – 20–22 °C (68–72 °F) – the cheese can stay fresh for about 2 hours.

For short-term use, personally, we think that storing at room temperature is good enough.


If you plan to cook provolone cheese in the next 2 hours, let it sit out at room temperature. 

How about storing and using for the longer term?

Well, we advise you to refrigerate them then. This guide is applicable for all cheese like brick cheese, brie cheese, tuma, etc. Please ensure that the temperature must be lower than 40°F (4,4 Celsius degrees). Additionally, the cheese can last longer if you keep it closed.

If available, you should put the cheese on the top shelves in your refrigerator so it won’t contact other items and accidentally be exposed to harmful bacterias.


Can you freeze provolone cheese? Yes, you can. In fact, even though refrigeration is good enough, freezing is still a better method to lengthen the shelf life. 

The method of freezing cheese is similar to all cheese kinds. Please ensure that you have a freezer and containers that are compatible with freezing. Then put the cheese in those boxes and place it in freezers. 

You should keep in mind that cheeses will change the texture to be drier and more crumbly when frozen.

Final Thoughts

How to tell if provolone cheese is bad? We have pointed out four elements for you, including smell, elasticity, mold, discoloration, and slimy texture. Please consider these factors carefully before using the cheese for cooking. You may get seriously foodborne if accidentally eating spoiled food. 

To add-in, we also clarified, “How long can provolone cheese sit out?” so that you can have further insights.

Are there any other cooking tips you are concerned about? Share with us in the comments!

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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