Hungry diners may argue about pizza toppings, but most people agree the cheese on their pizza should look golden, taste great and have just the right amount of elasticity. Now food scientists have identified the best combination of cheese to ensure an optimal amount of stringiness and flavour. And they say that a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar makes for the perfect pizza.
We’ve mixed together Mozzarella, Cheddar, and a pinch of Parmesan to create the perfect blend of cheeses that melts and stretches to perfection, without going oily, ensuring delicious authentic pizza every time.
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Serving: 0g | Calories: 0kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 0mg | Potassium: 0mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 0g | Vitamin A: 0IU | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 0mg | Iron: 0mg
About Pizza Cheese
Pizza cheese encompasses several varieties and types of cheeses and dairy products that are designed and manufactured for use specifically on pizza. These include processed and modified cheese such as mozzarella-like processed cheeses and mozzarella variants. The term can also refer to any type of cheese suitable for use on pizza. The most popular cheeses used in the preparation of pizza are mozzarella (accounting for about 30%), provolone, cheddar and Parmesan. Emmental, Romano and ricotta are often used as toppings, and processed pizza cheeses manufactured specifically for pizza are mass-produced. Some mass-produced pizza cheeses are frozen after manufacturing and shipped frozen.
Processed pizza cheese is manufactured to produce optimal qualities in browning, melting, stretchiness and fat and moisture content. Several studies and experiments have analyzed the impact of vegetable oil, manufacturing and culture processes, denatured whey proteins and other changes to create ideal and economical pizza cheeses. In 1997, it was estimated that annual production of pizza cheese products was 2 billion pounds in the United States and 200 million pounds in Europe, and in 2000 demand for the product in Europe was increasing by 8% per year. The trend of steadily-increasing production and consumption of mozzarella and pizza cheese continued into the first decade of the 21st century in the United States.
Varieties and types
The International Dictionary of Food and Cooking defines pizza cheese as “a soft spun-curd cheese similar to Mozzarella made from cow’s milk…” that is “…used particularly for pizzas and contains somewhat less water than real Mozzarella…” Most are at least 95 percent Mozzarella, with different moisture and fat densities. Cheese for frozen pizzas may be comminuted, in which the cheese is processed into minute granules or fragments. Low-moisture Mozzarella can be formulated specifically for pizza. Cheese may be processed into blocks, from which the product can be grated, made into granules or sliced for use on pizza or other foods. Pizza cheese frequently consists of a blend of two or more cheeses, such as low-moisture Mozzarella or Provolone. Low-moisture Mozzarella was first manufactured in dairy factories in the Midwestern United States, and was originally called “pizza cheese”. Compared to standard Mozzarella, low-moisture Mozzarella has a firmer texture, is easier to grate, has better browning and melting characteristics, and is less perishable.
Globally, Mozzarella is the most popular pizza cheese. However, it has been estimated that in the United States only 30% of all pizza cheese used is actual Mozzarella. Provolone is the second most popular one. Cheddar may be mixed with Mozzarella to preserve chewiness. Grated Parmesan may be added to the top of a pizza, and typically does not melt well when cooked. A diverse variety of processed pizza cheeses are produced, including analogue cheese. Provel is one example. Other pizza cheeses include Emmental, Romano and Ricotta for calzones or as a topping.
Several cheeses may be mixed together in its formulation, and each has individual browning and blistering characteristics. For example, a combination of Mozzarella and Cheddar may blister less when cooked compared to other combinations, because cheddar has less elasticity, while Mozzarella and provolone may brown less compared to other combinations.
Processed pizza cheeses
Pasteurized and processed pizza cheese dairy products that are designed to melt well and remain chewy are used on many mass-produced pizzas in North America and the United Kingdom. These types of cheeses are referred to as analogue (or analog) pizza cheese In the book Technology of Cheesemaking, editors Law and Tamimethat state that analogue pizza cheese appears to be the leading type of cheese analogue produced globally.
Analogue pizza cheeses may be formulated for processing with less sophisticated cheese-making equipment than is required for Mozzarella cheese, such as using simple mixing and moulding. They tend to have a soft texture and once melted, may have a slightly “stringy” quality when pulled or bitten into. They may lack in a fusion, or melting together of the shredded product when cooked, in which the cheese gels together. New stabilizer systems have been developed that have helped to enable the creation of analogue pizza cheeses.
An example of a processed pizza cheese is Provel, which uses Cheddar, Swiss, and Provolone cheeses as flavourants. Some analogue types are made with casein, a by-product of milk, and vegetable oil, rather than milk fat. Casein-based Mozzarella-like imitation processed cheeses prepared using rennet are also used as a Mozzarella substitute on frozen pizzas.
In some instances, the production of analogue pizza cheese can be similar to the production of cream cheese, although production may be different and homogenization may be avoided. In some varieties, the product is heated to remain at a specific temperature and for a specific amount of time, which causes the proteins in the mix to gelatinise. During this process, salts in the mix serve to emulsify it and thus improve the meltability of the final product. The heated product is then placed in packaging such as bags-in-boxes while still hot, as it is more easily handled in this state compared to when in a solid state. During packaging, these types of pizza cheeses are then quick-cooled to avoid browning of the product, which can occur vis-a-vis the Maillard reaction.
Research and Development
Manufacturers and academics have conducted studies and experiments in an effort to improve the stretchiness, melting characteristics, browning, fat content and water retention of pizza cheese. Several patents exist for specialized varieties of pizza cheese and for its processing. A study by Rudan and Barbano found that the addition of a thin layer of vegetable oil atop low- and reduced-fat pizza cheese increased meltability and reduced browning and dehydration when the product was cooked, but the texture remained overly chewy and tough. A study by Perry et al. found various methods to heighten the melt of low-fat pizza cheese by increasing its moisture, including the use of pre-acidification, fat-replacers, and exopolysaccharide starter cultures as well as higher pasteurization temperatures.
Manufacturers aim for a moisture content of 50-to-52 percent and a fat-in-dry-matter content of 35-to-40 percent. A study published in the International Journal of Food & Science Technology found that a 12.5:87.5 blend of vetch milk and bovine milk improved stretchiness and melting characteristics. Vetch is a legume that has seeds which are similar to lentils. An experiment published in the International Journal of Dairy Technology suggested that the level of galactose, a monosaccharide sugar that is less sweet than glucose and fructose, can be reduced using different culture techniques. An article in the International Journal of Food Engineering found that trisodium citrate, a food additive used to preserve and add flavor to foods, slightly improved the preferred qualities of pizza cheese. Research published in Dairy Industries International suggested that denatured whey proteins increased moisture retention, but that the improvements were very slight and not economically worthwhile relative to the minor improvements.
Some consumers prefer pizza cheese with less browning, which can be achieved using low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella with a low galactose content (see note). Some varieties derived from skim mozzarella variants were designed not to require aging or the use of fermentation starter. Others can be produced through the direct acidification of milk, which may be used in place of bacterial fermentation.
Note: Galactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products and other foods that is less sweet than glucose. Sugar in foods can lead to caramelization when they are cooked, which increases their browning.