Author Topic: Cheese Clarification  (Read 5112 times)

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Offline Tom Grim

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Cheese Clarification
« on: February 15, 2005, 11:32:58 AM »
Hi All.
    I am new to this, so please be patient.  I need help with understanding mozzarello ( i may even need help spelling it)
    As part of my recent pizza making addiction, I bought a cheese making kit and produced my own Mozzarello.  It turned out to be the the hard, sliceable. rubbery kind of mozzarello. 
     When my wife is making something Italian she sends me to the store to buy 'fresh' mozzarello that is packed in water.  She was not happy that my cheese was not the 'fresh' kind.  She said that I made the 'other' kind of mozzarello, not the fresh kind.

So, a few questions:

   1) Which kind of mozzarello should go on pizza?  The hard kind of the soft 'fresh'  kind? 
   2) Is mozzarello typically the only cheese used?   I have been making my pizza with half 'hard' mozzarello and half montery jack cheese. 
   3)  Which is better? to shred the cheese ro slice it?
   4)  When i cook my pizza (about 11 minutes at 550 degrees) there is yellow oil seperating from the cheese.  Is this ok?  If not, how do I avoid this?
   
Any help would be much apprecieated
Thanks
Tom


Offline Steve

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2005, 11:58:38 AM »
You can make your own fresh mozzarella very easily. All you need is milk, salt, and rennet.

Here's a good website to look at: http://www.cheesemaking.com/
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Offline pftaylor

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2005, 12:07:16 PM »
Tom,
I've often thought about making my own mutz. Like your wife, I'm a big fan of the fresh stuff. However, with Sam's Club selling Polly - O's Fresh Mozzarella for dirt cheap, there's no return on my investment to do so.

With whole fat mozzarella, you are going to get puddles of fat (like pepperoni fat) sitting on the top of your pie. Some folks like that, some don't. I don't care for it. The Polly - O Fresh Mozzarella melts cleanly and dry. Its unbeatable in my opinion.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2005, 12:59:24 PM by pftaylor »
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Offline canadave

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2005, 12:25:53 PM »
 
Quote
1) Which kind of mozzarello should go on pizza?  The hard kind of the soft 'fresh'  kind? 
   2) Is mozzarello typically the only cheese used?   I have been making my pizza with half 'hard' mozzarello and half montery jack cheese. 
   3)  Which is better? to shred the cheese ro slice it?
   4)  When i cook my pizza (about 11 minutes at 550 degrees) there is yellow oil seperating from the cheese.  Is this ok?  If not, how do I avoid this?
Tom, welcome to the forum! :)

One quick note before answering your questions: it's actually spelled "mozzarella", but we can just agree right here to call it "mozz" for short ;)

Answers:
1) There is no one cheese (mozz or otherwise) that *should* go on pizza.  It's all a matter of taste.  If asking about fresh vs. regular mozz, I tend to prefer the fresh mozzarella, but it's more expensive and harder for me to come by, so I usually wind up doing regular mozz unless it's a special occasion or something.
2) Mozz is the most common cheese, but there are a whole ton of cheese combos out there for pizza.  Up here in Canada, a common sight is "four-cheese pizza"--mozz, cheddar, parmesan, and maybe edam or provolone.  But there are other cheeses that I've seen on pizza too--asiago, fontina, feta, etc.  It's purely a matter of your personal tastes.
3)  Usually cheese on pizza is shredded, although fresh mozzarella is sliced.
4)  Heh....the oil is a common sight on New York "street" pizzas, and I wish I could achieve that with my cheese!  I don't know how healthy it is, but I don't believe there's any problem with it being on the pizza ;)

Hope this helps,
Dave

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2005, 02:12:12 PM »
Tom,

Welcome to the forum.

Over the past year or so, I have been writing my own pizza tutorial and, in the process, have written on cheeses for pizzas. Rather than trying to address your questions specifically, I have cut and pasted below some information on the more common types of pizza cheeses used and my experiences with them. I have started with the fresh mozzarella cheeses but also move on to the more common processed cheeses. In a later post, I will cover cheeses other than the common ones and also buffalo mozzarella cheeses. So, here goes.

For Neapolitan style pizzas, I recommend that fresh, whole-milk mozzarella (fior di latte or “flower of milk”), which is made of cow’s milk, be used if at all possible. The fresh mozzarella cheese is deemed by many to be preferable to the more common processed mozzarella cheese sold in ball or shredded form mainly because the fresh mozzarella cheese is considered fresher, softer, sweeter and more delicate, with a nice tang. For best results, the cheese should be reasonably firm (to permit slicing), elastic, spongy and juicy. Fresh mozzarella cheese is made by separating the curds and whey from whole milk, cooking the curds until they are elastic, stretching and pulling the curds to achieve a taffy-like texture, and then forming into balls. Usually, fresh mozzarella cheese is sold packed in water (called the governing liquid), in the form of either a single large ball or several small balls, called bocconcini or cielegine. Quite often, slightly less fresh mozzarella cheese is available, for example, from a local artisanal producer (and occasionally from a major producer), in a sealed package sold at specialty stores. The refrigerator shelf life of all of the foregoing forms of mozzarella cheese is quite short, usually only a few days once the packaging is opened.

If fresh mozzarella cheese is not available for any reason, then the more highly processed forms can be used. In some respects, the more highly processed forms of mozzarella cheese offer certain advantages over the fresh varieties. They are more stable, are drier (and not as watery on the pizza), easier to shred (especially if put into the freezer for about an hour before using), and need not be used within a matter of days. They are also more readily available and less expensive than the fresh mozzarella cheeses—although that shouldn’t be the sole reason for using them. As with any other cheese, they should be of the highest quality possible. 

Processed mozzarella cheese come in many varieties, including full-fat whole milk (100%), part skim, and low-moisture/part-skim, each with its own qualities and attributes. They are often combined together on pizzas (e.g., a 50/50 blend of whole milk mozzarella cheese and part-skim mozzarella cheese) or used with other types of cheeses, of which a mozzarella cheese/provolone cheese combination (e.g., three parts mozzarella cheese to one part provolone cheese) is one of the most popular because the two cheeses have similar melting, flow and stretching characteristics (they are both stringy curd cheeses). In addition, they carry the flavors of toppings, like pepperoni, throughout the entire pizza without interfering with the flavors of other ingredients. The provolone cheese (regular or smoked) also adds a distinctive flavor. 

A popular cheese combination in the St. Louis area, called “provel”, uses provolone cheese, white cheddar cheese and Swiss cheese. Other possibilities for combination with mozzarella cheese are Monterey Jack (including flavored varieties) and cheddar cheeses. Where a buttery-rich flavor and good meltability is desired, whole milk mozzarella cheese is usually used. However, unlike its lower-fat cousins, it is subject to breaking down and releasing some of its fat during baking, producing an oily appearance which may not be visually pleasing (although many love the mouthfeel of the fat). That is one of the reasons why whole milk mozzarella cheese is often combined with part-skim mozzarella cheese or provolone cheese. A very good brand of mozzarella cheese is the Grande brand, which comes in whole milk and low-moisture forms, and is available at some specialty retail stores and by mail order from some distributors to the pizza industry.

I would avoid non-fat and imitation mozzarella cheeses because they are the most inferior of all the mozzarella cheeses and there are much better choices from a quality and taste standpoint.

As between the various processed forms most commonly available to the home pizza maker, I prefer mozzarella cheese that is freshly sliced from a large block or brick of cheese, usually at the deli counters of supermarkets and food specialty stores. If a good quality deli mozzarella cheese is not available for any reason, then the packaged mozzarella balls can be used, of which there are many good, well-known brands, including Polly-O (a Kraft Foods product), Stella (which also comes in a deli style and in a coarsely shredded form), Calabro, and Dragone, just to name a few. Pre-packaged mozzarella slices are also acceptable provided they are free of chemical additives. If possible, I would avoid the very finely shredded, finely diced, or minced forms of mozzarella cheese (which usually come in plastic bags) since the cheese tends to cook too quickly and brown prematurely when used on pizzas baked at high oven temperatures. They are also highly processed with a multitude of additives to prevent caking, inhibit mold and prolong shelf life (usually measured in weeks). 

Fresh mozzarella cheese and the processed varieties of mozzarella cheese discussed above should be refrigerated until ready for use, by placing the mozzarella cheeses in airtight containers (to protect flavor and freshness), ideally at a temperature between 42-52 degrees F. Processed mozzarella cheese and some of the fresh mozzarella cheeses (but not the buffalo mozzarella cheese) can also be frozen until ready for use, but this should be done quickly to prevent it from becoming crumbly. Just put the unopened ball of mozzarella cheese in a freezer bag and put into the freezer section of your refrigerator. Defrost the cheese slowly in the refrigerator section of the refrigerator about a day before you intend to use the cheese (or defrost it in the microwave on the defrost cycle for a couple of minutes, being very careful not to melt the cheese). Mozzarella cheese should not be refrozen again after having been defrosted. I usually buy mozzarella cheese in quantity and freeze whatever I do not intend to use at one time. Since mozzarella cheeses vary considerably from one producer to another, before considering freezing any particular brand of mozzarella cheese, especially fresh mozzarella cheeses, I recommend that the reader freeze a small amount of the cheese to see if it can withstand freezing and defrosting without significantly degrading its taste and texture. 

Mozzarella cheeses and blends should not be used in excess on pizzas. Otherwise, the cheeses may retard the baking of the crust and result in uncooked dough. To prevent this outcome, many professional pizza makers have established guidelines relating to the amounts of cheese (including blends), by weight, that should be used on the different sizes (by diameter) of pizzas. Some typical quantities of cheese relative to the different sizes of pizzas are as follows: 10”, 5 ounces (by weight); 12”, 7.5 ounces; 14”, 10 ounces and 16”, 12.5 ounces. 

For best results, it is generally recommended that meltable cheeses like mozzarella and provolone cheeses be distributed in shredded form, small pieces or chunks, large dice, or thin slices over a pizza rather than using a very finely shredded, diced or minced form. In these forms, the pieces or slices of meltable cheese will melt in “puddles” and stay soft and chewy, rather than turning brown. Alternatively, the meltable cheeses can be withheld until a couple of minutes or so before the pizza is completely baked—something I quite frequently do with Margherita pizzas and other pizzas with few toppings—or a pizza round can be baked without toppings until it sets, and then add the toppings, including the cheeses, and finish baking.

Peter


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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2005, 02:35:30 PM »
Part 2, on other cheeses for use on pizzas.

To the extent that other cheeses are available for use on pizzas, such as fresh ricotta cheese or goat cheese, the finished pizza will benefit from that freshness. Ricotta and goat cheeses should be added to pizzas by teaspoon or tablespoonful. These cheeses tend not to have similar melting characteristics as the other cheeses described and, thus, will tend to stay in place on pizzas and not flow into the other toppings used. Since ricotta and goat cheeses are soft cheeses, they can also be combined with herbs or garlic (or bought as such) and lend additional flavor components to pizzas. Soft cheeses should not be frozen since this will cause them to break down.

Aged dry grating cheeses, such as Parmesan, Romano, and grana padano cheeses, are best used freshly grated. Parmigiano-Reggiano, made in and around Parma, Italy from unpasteurized cow’s milk and aged for at least 9 months (with the very best aged over 20 months), is considered to be the best of the Parmesan cheeses. To be sure that you are getting the genuine product (anyone can use the term “Parmesan” for a generic version), look for the name “Parmigiano-Reggiano” on the outer rind of the wheel of cheese from which a section of the cheese is cut (the name appears repeatedly around the rind in dotted outline form). If possible, try to get the cheese cut from a large wheel, to be sure of freshness (some prepackaged Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese can be several weeks or even months old). Similarly, you will want to look for genuine Romano cheese, which is made (of sheep’s milk) north of Rome and elsewhere in Italy, since the term “Romano”, like the term “Parmesan”, has also become a generic term and can be used by anyone, including U.S. cheese producers. Grana padano cheese is a cow’s milk cheese made in northern Italy and is a much milder version of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and with a more delicate flavor. It is the best selling of the “Big Three” aged dry cheeses in Italy. 

The flavors of the hard cheeses as described above are not affected by freezing, since the moisture was removed during the ripening process. However, the body and texture will be negatively affected.

All of the cheeses discussed to this point are dairy products. It is also possible to use a non-dairy, soy-based “mozzarella” on pizzas. Soy-based mozzarella is a firm, mild (but pleasant) tasting, vegetable form of mozzarella cheese made principally from soybeans. It looks very much like regular mozzarella cheese, shreds and slices just like regular mozzarella cheese, and can be used on a pizza just like regular mozzarella cheese. It will melt without any significant browning and it will be chewy and almost indistinguishable on a baked pizza from regular mozzarella cheese. However, it will not be as flavorful as regular mozzarella cheese, and certainly not as tasty or flavorful as fresh mozzarella cheese. It is lactose- and cholesterol-free, so it offers clear advantages to persons who are lactose intolerant or are on low-fat or low-cholesterol diets. Combined with a high-quality pizza crust and toppings, the soy mozzarella cheese allows those on restricted diets to be able to enjoy pizza along with everyone else. Soy mozzarella cheese tends to be sold at health food and organic food stores, such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats.

Peter

 



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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2005, 02:42:40 PM »
Part 3, on buffalo mozzarella cheese.

Buffalo mozzarella cheese (mozzarella di bufala), which is a cheese made from the milk of water buffaloes (river water buffaloes), in the same manner as cow’s milk mozzarella cheese, is also highly desirable, and considered the queen of all mozzarella cheeses. This is because the water buffalo milk from which the cheese is made is thicker than regular milk, whiter (porcelain-white), with more butterfat, and more non-fat solids. (It also has 38% more calcium and 43% less cholesterol than cow’s milk.) The cheese is a firm, stringy-textured cheese with a thin rind and delicate taste. Its principal drawback for the average home pizza maker is that the cheese has to be imported from the Campania region of southern Italy (which is home to over eighty percent of Italy’s water buffaloes) and, accordingly, it is expensive compared with domestic cow’s milk mozzarella cheeses, including the fresh ones. Furthermore, the buffalo mozzarella cheeses made in Italy must undergo special processing to ensure that they survive the rigors and delays in the journey across the Atlantic from Italy to the U.S. (by air), and that they arrive in fresh enough condition to be used before the quality starts to degrade, which is usually within a matter of a few days.     

Even in Naples, buffalo mozzarella cheese is not the only mozzarella cheese used on pizzas. It is, in fact, more common for cow’s milk mozzarella cheese to be used on pizzas instead of buffalo mozzarella cheese, mainly because of the lower cost of the cow’s milk mozzarella cheese and also because buffalo mozzarella cheese contains more water than cow’s milk mozzarella cheese and must often be drained (at the expense of losing some flavor) before use, to prevent soggy pizzas. In fact, to be sure that you get buffalo mozzarella cheese instead of cow’s milk mozzarella cheese on a pizza ordered in a restaurant in Naples, you must specifically ask for a “DOC” pizza, which is one made in strict compliance with the DOC standards promulgated by the Italian government. These standards call for the “DOC” pizzas to use only buffalo mozzarella cheese.

Because of the unavoidable drawbacks inherent in the importation of buffalo mozzarella cheese from Italy, there has been a recent movement on the part of a few entrepreneurial domestic companies to produce fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese for local consumption. To date, I am aware of only two domestic producers of buffalo mozzarella cheese: Star Hill Dairy, a farmstead dairy in Vermont and Bubalus Bubalis, Co., a cheese producer in California. They may well be the only domestic producers in the U.S. at this time. Only time will tell whether their domestic buffalo mozzarella cheeses will match the quality of the imported varieties, but early indications are that the quality is reasonably good but not yet up to the standards of a good buffalo mozzarella cheese imported from Campania, Italy. 

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2005, 02:48:09 PM »
Pete-zza,
When you are finished writing your tutorial, I would be honored to buy a copy of the first printing.
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Offline friz78

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2005, 04:47:52 PM »
LIKEWISE!!!!!

Offline Steve

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2005, 05:45:03 PM »
You call those "notes"??  :o

Um, I'd love to publish your notes on the website (with your permission and with you cited as the author.) What do you think?  ??? 8) ;D

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Online Pete-zza

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2005, 06:27:36 PM »
Steve,

Conceptually, I don't have a problem with making at least parts of the document available, but I'd like to think about it some. I had done a lot of research on pizza before I found this forum, and thought I had the subject under control, and I had made a fair number of pizzas to test out some of the technical and theroretical aspects of pizza making, but when I found this forum my eyes and mind opened up to aspects of pizza making that had eluded me. Things like deep-dish pizzas, thin-crust pizzas, pizza screens, Escalon tomatoes, creative baking techniques, and so forth. When I looked at my document recently, I concluded that it needed more work, especially to incorporate some of the new information I have been able to gain from being a member of this forum. It may not have been evident, but a lot of the stuff that I have written on at this forum came from the research that I had done over the past couple of years or so. I tweak the document from time to time to reflect new information that comes to my attention, but it still needs some significant revision to bring it up to my personal standards.

Peter


Offline Tom Grim

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Re: Cheese Clarification
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2005, 08:33:16 AM »
Peter,

Wow.  Thanks for the generousity of your information.  You have done your homework.  Put me on your list of book purchasers
I went to Whole Foods to see if they carry Buffalo mozz.  They do at $22 per pound. The next time I crank up the oven for more pizza, I will try it to see if is worth the premium.  Maybe a comparison to home made mozz.
Tom