In the modern culinary world, there have been endless attempts to modify and improve on the humble pizza. From gourmet toppings to tampering with crusts to using different cheeses, the quest for the ultimate pizza is the topic of much debate. But it is the cheese that is the most contentious of these three elements.
So, what is the best cheese for pizza? It is a question that people have been asking for ages, and have been unable to answer with any kind of finality. Yet, surprisingly, science seem to have an answer.
The best cheese for pizza making?
Back in 2014, an international team of scientists set out to try and discern what the best cheese for pizza making is. The abstract of the paper said that the aim of the study was to “quantify the pizza baking properties and performance of different types of cheese”.
This was done by analysing each cheese type’s elasticity, oiliness, moisture, water activity, galactose and baking temperature – all factors that influence the way cheese melts.
Of course, everyone’s preference for the perfect cheese is a little different. But here at Manoosh we like our cheese melty and gooey, without too many blisters, and the study agreed.
“Pizza browning and blistering sounds like a totally trivial question,” study co-author Dr. Bryony James, a professor of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Auckland. “But it’s actually dictated by a combination of composition and mechanical properties of the cheese itself.”
A slew of different cheeses were analysed for the study including mozzarella, cheddar, Colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, and provolone – all fairly common pizza toppings.
The results were published in The Journal of Food Science, in an article called ‘Quantification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality’.
What did they find?
Well, Colby, and Edam cheeses had “small elasticity” meaning that they didn’t easily form blisters when baking. However, this meant they cheeses were less gooey (which is a huge drawback for most pizza lovers!).
Gruyere, Emmental, and provolone produced a large amount of free oil which prevented moisture from easily evaporating and resulted in less browning. Mozzarella, on the other hand, had high elasticity, the most moisture and least free oil when it bakes. However, this meant a few blisters appeared on top.
Overall, mozzarella was crowned the best cheese for pizza making – the bubbliest, gooiest, meltiest of the lot. “Mozzarella has a lot of elasticity,” Dr. James explains in a video accompanying the study. “If you look at it under a microscope, you see it has these channels of fat surrounded by protein.”
This wasn’t overly surprising – mozzarella has been the staple for pizza-making since its inception many many years ago. So what new information did the study present? Well, the authors offered this conclusion: “Different cheeses can be employed on ‘gourmet’ style pizzas in combination with Mozzarella.”
Basically they are saying that while the other cheese also offered up positive properties for, alone they couldn’t stack up. However, when combined with mozzarella, they could bring out the best in each other. Say, some Gruyère and provolone with mozzarella for a smoother mouthfeel. Or Colby with mozzarella for a more uniform melt.
In the end, it’s still open for experimentation. But just remember mozzarella is the king of pizza cheeses, so be sure to include a generous sprinkling.
Here are Manoosh we use only the freshest, tastiest ingredients on our pizzas, including the best mozzarella we can get ours hands on.