There are dozens of dozens of pizza flavors and toppings available worldwide, and they can be very controversial when discussed among pizza lovers. Are you passionate about the Chicago stuffed pizza? Are you pro- or anti-pineapples? How about anchovies? Discussions can be made and fought over, but opposing sides may never agree!
If there’s one thing that will unite all pizza lovers, it’s mozzarella cheese. No matter your crust or topping preference, you will all surely agree that warm, gooey melted cheese is key to your enjoyment of any pizza.
What makes mozzarella so perfect to put on top of pizza? Who was the genius who first decided to use it? Is the universal enjoyment linked to scientific fact? Let this article answer all these important questions about everyone’s favorite dish.
Mozzarella: A Short History
Mozzarella was first cited in a cookbook published in Southern Italy in 1570. Mozzarella di bufala is produced using a whey starter and rennet to coagulate the milk. The curds are cut into pieces and then left to firm up. Once firm, the curds are heated to separate the whey. Once the curds reach a pH of 5.2, they can be stretched and kneaded to form delicate cheese ropes.
In previous iterations of the pizza, ancient Greeks and Persian soldiers, as far back as 520 BC, baked flat pieces of bread on their shields and topped them with dates and cheese. Meanwhile, the modern pizza as we know it today was popularized in Italy in the mid-1800s. Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and various herbs were the most common toppings used back then. Today, dozens of pizza variations exist all over the world, and many of them contain mozzarella cheese.
The Mozzarella Bubble
In 2014, scientists from China, New Zealand, and the United States created an experiment using cheddar, Colby, Edam, Emmental, gruyere, mozzarella, and provolone cheeses. They distributed the cheeses on pizza crusts and baked them in the oven. After baking, they measured certain characteristics, such as elasticity, color, moisture, and oil content. In this experiment, they determined that mozzarella has the perfect elasticity, water, and oil content that produces the perfect consistency that people look for in a pizza!
As cheese heats up in the oven, the water inside begins to boil and evaporates into steam. As steam gathers within the cheese, bubbles start to form. The more elastic the cheese, the bigger the cheese bubble—and Mozzarella has the right amount of moisture and elasticity to create the attractive bubbles and cheese pulls that are so prominent in pizza advertisements.
The Mozzarella Browning
All the best pizzas are slightly burnt in some places. The browning pattern on pizza begins when oil leaks out of the cheese as it melts. As cheese bubbles form, they break the oil surface and are directly exposed to the oven’s high heat. When all the moisture has evaporated, the cheese will turn brown and create that attractive pattern on top of the pizza!
Again, mozzarella excels in this. It contains the right amount of oil to create an even browning pattern on top of the pizza. In the same experiment, it was found that gruyere and provolone had too much oil, so they could not achieve any browning at all.
Put together ten people, and they may never agree on the perfect pizza topping and crust thickness. However, there’s a big chance that all of them will say that they need mozzarella cheese on whatever pizza they eat! Mozzarella is the great unifier and has been so for hundreds of years. It contains the perfect amount of moisture and oil, and it is precisely stretchy enough to create the brown, bubbly pizza that everyone knows and loves.
Are you looking for the best pizza restaurant in Dyer, Indiana? Doreen’s Pizzeria has been serving award-winning, handmade Chicago pizza since 1986. We serve a wide variety of pizza flavors and toppings that our customers love. Check out our menu and order from us today!