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Author Topic: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza  (Read 25256 times)

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Offline PizzaEater101

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Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« on: July 28, 2011, 12:12:45 AM »
I did a search on this hear but not yield any hits on this.  If this was discussed before and I did a bad job of searching please forgive.

Anyhow, was watching on the Food Channel or is it Network, a show called "Food Detectives".  There is a myth that might not be a myth after this, that the water does matter in NY Pizza.  I posed this question here about a year ago and got the answer that water does not matter much, well from my memory this is what I think was the answer, but on the "Food Detectives" maybe they thought otherwise.

They had water from NYC, Los Angeles, and Chicago.  They made three dough batches with each of the different waters.  They did not seem to let it ferment in the fridge overnight but it could be they showed how they make the dough then they pulled out some dough off camera that was fermenting overnight, but I don't know.  Anyway they make up three pizzas and the four panelist who are all native New Yorkers chose pizza "B", the pizza made with NY tap water as the best of the three.  I forgot for sure but maybe the Los Angeles water dough came in second with Chicago third.  Regardless of what were the second and third liked pies, the fact is in a blind taste test the NY pizza dough was favored over the other two.  

For a while there I was making pizza with bottled water from Iceland for no other reason I thought it was cool.  Then I started going back to regular Southern California water.  I did not do taste tests and I also switched recipes all the time so I really don't know if my Icelandic water did for a better pizza dough or the So Cal water.  I live about 1 mile from Los Angeles city limits but I don't get LA water, my water comes from another source within the city and the city source gets it from the mountains directly.  I am pretty sure they chlorinate the water but they don't, thank God put in Fluoride.  I might do some doughs of the same recipe but with three waters. Icelandic, So Cal, and if there is such things as bottled NYC water, I'd give it a go.  Maybe some bottled Hawaiian water too.

If I could get my hands on this one I think I'll give it a try -

http://tapdny.com/products/

Any of you feel that this blind taste test settles the age old question about water?

One last thought is that the testers were used to dough made with NY water.  If they had had dough all their lives with say, Icelandic water and they tried other doughs with other waters they'd choose the Icelandic as their choice.  So it's all relative.  But with that said what do you do if you want it to taste just like NY Pizza?  You use NY water in your recipe.


« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 12:50:44 AM by PizzaEater101 »

Offline PizzaEater101

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2011, 12:55:19 AM »
Oh wait a NY Minute, here is the video of this -



One of these guys used to have NY water brought in to his restaurant out west here to make pizza but doesn't anymore.  Now he has his chemist modify his water to be like NY water.  Strange.  He did not explain how it's gonna work and how they can do that.

Offline norma427

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2011, 08:18:15 AM »
James,

I did one test on NY water, versus my regular bottled water I normally used in my preferment Lehmann doughs.  If you want to see what I found out,  the results are at Reply 291 and a few posts after that.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg91827.html#msg91827

I had planned on getting more NY water the last time I was in NY, but the people I wanted to get the water from before we left NY weren’t home, so I didn’t get any NY water that time.  I plan on doing another test on NY water the next time I can get some from NY.  As you will see from my posts, the crust did taste a little different when no sauce and cheese were applied, but after the sauce and cheese were applied, I and some other people couldn’t tell the difference.

At Reply 287 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9908.msg91710.html#msg91710 is where I started the test.

Norma

Offline plainslicer

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 09:19:15 AM »
It would have been more convincing if they had at least done a second round with three pizzas all made from the same water. I bet they would have a favorite out of those. Given the tiny sample size and the fact that they were all in the same room and knew each other's answers, this "proves" nothing.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 09:26:16 AM »
It would have been more convincing if they had at least done a second round with three pizzas all made from the same water.

This is a technique that is sometimes used to do blind tastings of wines.

There is an LA pizza chain that has been using water that has the same mineral content as NY water (the Catskills), as mentioned at http://events.la.com/los-angeles-ca/venues/show/977229-johnnies-new-york-pizza-cafe#.

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Offline widespreadpizza

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 09:27:34 AM »
also,  isnt this the show the the chef mixed everything,  even the yeast and salt by volume or eye not weight?

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2011, 10:19:27 AM »
One of these guys used to have NY water brought in to his restaurant out west here to make pizza but doesn't anymore.  Now he has his chemist modify his water to be like NY water.  Strange.  He did not explain how it's gonna work and how they can do that.

Homebrewers commonly adjust their water to more closely mimic the water used in the area/country of the particular beer being brewed.

All water has a profile. If one is able to obtain an accurate profile (mineral content, etc), one can simply get distilled water (neutral water) and add various additives to more closely reflect the correct water type for the beer so the flavor profile is correct. Keep in mind water is a much larger issue with beer, which is 90% water. In particular, the flavor and bitterness perception of hops on the palate are largely impacted by the water used in a particular brew.

I have various lists and tables of how a particular additive impacts the ion concentration of sulfates and chloride in the water. The most commonly used additives are Gypsum (calcium sulfate), Calcium Chloride, Phosphoric Acid, Sodium Chloride (salt) and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)
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Offline PizzaEater101

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2011, 10:45:13 AM »
Norma - thanks for the reply and info on the water experiment you did.  I did read your posts in the links that you provided.  So it's interesting that the dough alone once baked, people can tell the difference but once all the toppings and cheese and sauce is added it's hard to tell the difference.  That makes sense because the sauce and all the toppings could and would possibly overwhelm one's senses and put the dough in bottom of the taste sensors priorities so to speak.  

plainslicer - What you say does make a lot of sense.  They should have done that because I am wondering if the placebo effect would take place and they'd have their favorites or if they'd actually catch the trick with their taste buds and insist that the pizza all taste the same.  But your idea is right, for an experiment like this I think that would have been important.

Peter, thanks for the info on Johnnie's Pizza.  It's not too far from me, maybe 20 minute or so drive, a bit more with traffic.  I want to go out to that place and give their pizza a try.  Maybe next week I'll be able to head on out there. Now you got me curious.  I've heard of Johnnie's but never been ther eand never knew they monkey with the water to make it NY like.  That's a pizza I must try.

Now I'm convinced I must try different waters and do a controlled taste test.  But I have a feeling it won't matter so much because as Norma noted after all dressed up it might not be a big difference in taste what water is being used.

Then again the link to Luigi Pizzeria and posting I gave, in the video the owner states he uses bottled water because he doesn't think chlorine in tap water is good for the taste of the pizza.  He was using big water jugs and not NY water, just, well I know the brand, I recognize the bottle but I forgot the name.  I'm gonna use my Icelandic water, Hawaiian water, NY water if I can find that bottled water here, then my local water.  Like I say we got chlorine in our water but no fluoride which makes me happy.  So it's not that bad, yes I am a so-called supertaster and I definately taste the chlorine in the water but better than having it with fluoride.

widespreadpizza I think you are right.  Also funny enough they throw yeast in and say they need to let it set a few minutes before adding other ingredients but then right after he says that, a few seconds later they throw everything in and not wait a few minutes.  I know it's TV land and time is money and the time is important for the schedule for the show but they could have cut away and come back and said 10 minutes later we add the rest or something.  Makes me think they had dough in the fridge from the day before that has been fermenting.

pizzablogger, thanks for the info on how it's done.  I had no idea you could do that with water until I saw the show and you explained how.  Interesting how that goes. 
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 10:46:45 AM by PizzaEater101 »

Offline plainslicer

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2011, 01:14:09 PM »
I might try a taste test of my own since I am still very much a skeptic. DC tap water is quite hard but I think it tastes good most of the time as long as I let the tap run for a bit to clear the indoor pipes. I normally use a Brita filter which tastes great for drinking and baking. Bottled tastes different but isn't any better or worse. I found out last year I am also a so-called "supertaster" but that doesn't take into account palate training and whatnot.

I can't bake three pizzas at once but since we're talking about dough flavor I might as well just bake three small flatbreads or loaves. Mix the dry ingredients, split into three evenly and measure the same amount of each water, ferment side by side and bake at once on my stone. That should be as fair a test as I can do at home.

I'm pretty sure what the result will be but I am willing to eat crow. I've made doughs with all three of these types of water and never noticed anything, but I never had them side by side. Perhaps there'll be slight differences in handling or development due to varying mineral amounts but I don't think taste will be noticeable.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 01:28:20 PM by plainslicer »

Offline chickenparm

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2011, 03:38:19 PM »
Being from NY and drinking that tap water(kool aid) for years,It was just water to me.
 :-D

I do not doubt that water quality varies from location to location.I also do not believe it makes NY pizza instantly better than some other place.If the tap water where you live is awful to drink or use,then import your water in or buy better water from the stores.Thats the way I look at it.

Now about NY City air...
 :-X




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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2011, 04:30:20 PM »
Personally, I think the NY water thing is complete BS. I've never seen a logical rational why it would be better - consider Kentucky water and Bourbon for example, it can be demonstrated why the limestone-filtered water with very low mineral content other than calcium (and particularly the low iron) makes for better tasting whisky than many other water sources (and grows better horses).

With respect to the video, it is not uncommon for tasting panels - even those reasonably well executed - to give results that are not representative of the population. Poorly executed panels, as this one was, are completely meaningless and may actually favor an unrepresentative response.

When I was in the food business, on several occasions when developing private label products, we could not get our products to beat the comparable national brand in the store's panels despite the fact that we consistently beat the national brand in our internal panels. In frustration, we went so far as to repackage the national brand we were testing against in our packaging (which the taster could not see - just those running the panel), and we still couldn't beat the national brand (the identical product) in their panels. The obvious conclusion is that somehow the people running the panel were somehow subconsciously (or consciously) biasing the panel (we were not given the opportunity to observe the panels).

The observation that identical products should have been paneled is a good one. We did research that showed, when the products tested were nearly identical, there was no statistically significant difference in response confidence when the panel tested products that were different and when the panel tested products that the participants thought were different (but were the same). When they believed there was a difference, whether there was or not, they "found" one they liked the best.

We also did interesting studies where we knew the taster favored a predetermined result or was resistant to change.  We could panel identical products and the taster would pick whatever we cued as the reference product. We could panel different products – even noticeably different products, and the taster would pick whichever we cued as the reference product. We could even “selectively uglify” (do things to meaningfully degrade the quality of the reference product) and the taster would still often pick whatever we cued as the reference product.

CL
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Offline scott r

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2011, 06:09:02 PM »
The best commercially available NY style pizza I ever had was chris biancos....ironically in phoenix arizona.  Chris is using a reverse osmosis filter that removes 99% of the minerals from the water.   This is actually fairly common in wholesale bakeries in some parts of the US.   Sometimes it is necessary to add back in a little bit of the unfiltered water to get a little mineral content back, as completely stripping it may not necessarily be a good thing (but it sometimes is).

Something to think about when considering how hard or soft water is.....Using RO water makes it very easy to "swing" the ph unlike normal water filled with minerals.  Of course fermentation tends to make things acidic, so at least in theory (mine.. just guessing here) it should be easier to get a more acidic final dough which can translate into a better texture.  I could see where this would be especially useful when someone is using commercial yeast.  I miss our friend november!          
« Last Edit: July 28, 2011, 07:23:59 PM by scott r »

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2011, 07:44:48 PM »
I tend to agree with Craig that the whole water issue is BS when it comes to the pizza being so good in NY.

Then again, I am not one that believes the pizza in NYC, when taken as a whole, is something special. Granted, there are likely more excellent pizzerias in NYC than anywhere else in the country, but we are talking about a small number of pizzerias amongst 1500 or more pizzerias in NYC. Most of the pizza I have eaten in NYC sucks. I am no NYC pizza expert, but I have eaten a fair share of pizza from random places in NYC over the years.

All that being said, the NYC municipal water is some of the best tasting tap water I have ever had. The history of NYCs water tunnels which bring water into the city from the Catskills is an amazing study in engineering. Water tunnel #3 is a 50 year long ongoing project and is one of the biggest construction projects in the history of the city.

There was a special about these tunnels on TV (Discovery Channel perhaps?) a few years back which was fun to watch.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/factsheet.pdf
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Offline PizzaEater101

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2011, 09:54:11 PM »
Being from NY and drinking that tap water(kool aid) for years,It was just water to me.
 :-D

I do not doubt that water quality varies from location to location.I also do not believe it makes NY pizza instantly better than some other place.If the tap water where you live is awful to drink or use,then import your water in or buy better water from the stores.Thats the way I look at it.

Now about NY City air...
 :-X



LOL, Bill, try some LA air and you'll know you are in purgatory!  Actually LA used to have such a bad smog problem in the '70s when I was a kid.  It's better now but we get enough smog still, just not as bad.

How about bottle some air and sell it so I can breathe easier here.

Some here have posted that the water issue is just plain out bull.  Not sure if I agree with that.  Seeing now that the different waters from around the country or world as far as that goes, have different mineral content I could see how that the water would have a differently taste to it and maybe react different to the yeast, well the other way around.  I mean you use different types of wood when slow cooking bbq ribs or brisket and you get a different subtle taste.  This is because wood in smoking is considered a spice.  Not saying water is a spice but it might affect it in some way when making the dough.

I hold Norma's opinion and thoughts in high regard and when she says that she could tell the difference in the dough itself when it's just baked up then that's the gospel to me.  She later goes on to say that once the pizza is all dressed and baked, her tasters couldn't tell a difference.  So I can see why some people say it's bull that water makes a difference, I mean Norma stated that her tasters, including herself, didn't tell much of a difference if any when the whole pie was made up and baked but alone, the dough itself when baked there was a difference.  Norma, if I am telling it differently than you stated, please forgive but I think that was the idea you had.  So maybe, just maybe people who have sensitive palates like mine could tell the difference in taste of a whole pie made with different water.  So I guess it's yes and no.



« Last Edit: July 29, 2011, 10:02:02 PM by PizzaEater101 »

Offline chickenparm

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2011, 10:32:22 PM »
James,
I think EARTH water deserves more credit.

 :-D


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Offline norma427

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2011, 11:17:09 PM »
James,

I would have to do a few more tests to confirm what my results were from the time I posted.  I would have to have more test testers and see what would happen.  The one man that used to have a stand near me, from Long Island, was the one that said he could really tell the difference, but I still don't know how true it is.  I guess I will have to wait until I can get some NY water again.

Norma

Offline theppgcowboy

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2011, 05:02:15 PM »
Take some spring water add some high gluten flour, put a little 10w30, add a little road salt and some idy,, viola New York pizza, Yummmmmmmmmmmm.
Oops, don't forget the toppings.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 05:05:54 PM by theppgcowboy »

Offline Botch

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2011, 10:15:38 PM »
Personally, I think the NY water thing is complete BS. I've never seen a logical rational why it would be better - consider Kentucky water and Bourbon for example, it can be demonstrated why the limestone-filtered water with very low mineral content other than calcium (and particularly the low iron) makes for better tasting whisky than many other water sources (and grows better horses).

With respect to the video, it is not uncommon for tasting panels - even those reasonably well executed - to give results that are not representative of the population. Poorly executed panels, as this one was, are completely meaningless and may actually favor an unrepresentative response.

When I was in the food business, on several occasions when developing private label products, we could not get our products to beat the comparable national brand in the store's panels despite the fact that we consistently beat the national brand in our internal panels. In frustration, we went so far as to repackage the national brand we were testing against in our packaging (which the taster could not see - just those running the panel), and we still couldn't beat the national brand (the identical product) in their panels. The obvious conclusion is that somehow the people running the panel were somehow subconsciously (or consciously) biasing the panel (we were not given the opportunity to observe the panels).

The observation that identical products should have been paneled is a good one. We did research that showed, when the products tested were nearly identical, there was no statistically significant difference in response confidence when the panel tested products that were different and when the panel tested products that the participants thought were different (but were the same). When they believed there was a difference, whether there was or not, they "found" one they liked the best.

We also did interesting studies where we knew the taster favored a predetermined result or was resistant to change.  We could panel identical products and the taster would pick whatever we cued as the reference product. We could panel different products – even noticeably different products, and the taster would pick whichever we cued as the reference product. We could even “selectively uglify” (do things to meaningfully degrade the quality of the reference product) and the taster would still often pick whatever we cued as the reference product.

CL
Craig, this is extremely fascinating to me.  Along with being a pizza fanatic I'm also an audiophile, but I refuse to buy in to the snake-oil cable scams that permeate the field.  "Monster Cable" is only the tip of the iceberg; you can spend $10,800 on a single 8' piece of "speaker cable" (battery-powered to "keep the ions consistenly aligned") but the makers of these "gems" steadfastly refuse to participate in double-blind listening tests.   ::) 
That said, I'm also an iced-tea fanatic and have to say that the tea I made with Dayton, OH tap water has never been surpassed; I even bought a glass jar and made some a couple years ago during a business trip, and yeah, it tasted better than tea I've made anywhere else.  I dunno...
I cook with wine.  Sometimes I even add it to the food.  - W. C. Fields

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2011, 10:34:37 PM »
For years, Tom Lehmann has considered the NY water issue a myth. An example is his PMQ Think Tank post in the thread at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=679&hilit.

Peter 

Offline cranky

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Re: Food Detectives Prove NY Water Matters in NY Pizza
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2011, 07:32:42 AM »
For years, Tom Lehmann has considered the NY water issue a myth. An example is his PMQ Think Tank post in the thread at http://thinktank.pmq.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=679&hilit.

Peter 

Myths die hard.  The amount of total dissolved solids (mineral content) in tap water is probably about 150 parts per million.  In certain places it is a little higher.  All municipal water in the U.S. is chlorinated.  The chlorine keeps biological threats (bacteria and parasites) from growing, meaning biological content makes no difference.  The EPA regulates levels of thousands of organic chemical contaminants to parts per billion or quadrillion or to the testing limit of analysis.  So there is no level of organic chemical presence detectable by taste.  If there is a water factor in making pizzas taste different from one area to another it has to be the mineral content, tds of a couple hundred ppm.

For all those who weigh ingredients carefully, take the weight of the salt you add to your favorite or any pizza recipe and figure out what the parts per million sodium content in the dough and sauce of any pizza style.  All of your ingredients, flour, sauce, oil, but especially cheese, are contributing additional mineral content to the finished pizza, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, etc.  Whatever the mineral profile of the water is it is overwhelmed by the mineral contribution of the ingredients.

If anyone doubts this it is easy to do a simple experiment that will settle the matter finally.  An RO membrane removes about 99% of tds.  Take RO water or distilled water and add 200 ppm of sodium, calcium, or magesium salts.  Make 4 identical pizzas using the three waters and one distilled, same sauce, toppings, oven temp and time and taste them.   There will be no difference.

The TV experiment was nonsense.  Sensory taste panels are done blind with tasters trained to use language that describes what they taste to explain differences not just which do you like a or b and why they like it.  Samples are passed to the taster through a door into an enclosed booth.  He only sees the sample arrive and is not allowed to talk to the other taste panelists or even see them.  He tastes a sample and fills out a form on each one.  There is no opportunity to be influenced.  The food detectives are entertainers, not scientists or even detectives.




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