Friday, September 24, 2010

Types of Cheese For Pizza

Without a doubt the most popular cheese to use for pizza is mozzarella. This cheese originated in the Naples region of Italy and was first made from water buffalo milk. Original mozzarella was of very high moisture content, and had a short shelf life. It The texture of original mozzarella did not lend to grating at all, and the cheese was usually cut into slices to be used.

Modern mozzarella is now made from cows milk, and is of a lower moisture content to help make it easier to work with and extend the shelf life. Mozzarella is available in a variety of moisture and butterfat content. A little experimenting to find which you like better will be needed, for different mozzarellas have different ways in which they melt and brown.

There is a fresh mozzarella sold that comes as balls of cheese packed in water. This cheese has a different texture and taste than regular mozzarella and can also be used on pizza. It does not grate as it is too soft, and it must be used fairly soon as it turns sour within a few days. This fresh mozzarella is sometimes called scamorze. But mozzarella isn't the only cheese you can use for pizza. Consider trying some of these others for different flavors.

Provolone - Non-smoked provolone has a nutty flavor, creamy texture, and is easy to grate and use. Smoked provolone has a more robust, smoky taste. Provolone can be used by itself, or in a combination with mozzarella.

Cheddar - From white to orange, from mild to sharp, cheddar is a good cheese for pizza. Cheddar melts well, but does not 'stretch', so it is always used in combination with mozzarella or provolone. The more cheddar you use in the blend, the milder it should be. The sharp varieties can dominate the flavor of the pizza, so use them sparingly.

Romano & Parmesan - These cheeses are most often used dried and grated over pasta dishes. They can be used on pizza for added flavor. Their flavor can be quite robust, especially the dried and grated kinds, so use accordingly. Parmesan is also available as fresh, and can be sliced or grated. Fresh parmesan has a better all-around flavor for pizza than the dried.

Feta - Feta cheese is a cheese that is cured in brine, and many times sold in small tubs of brine. It is an excellent cheese to use in combination or all by itself for pizza. Its salty, earth flavor holds up well after baking.

Swiss - Swiss is a very flavorful, salty cheese that not everyone likes used on pizza. It can add a great accent to a pizza, but as it is such a strong flavor should be used in a mixture of no more than 10% Swiss. Swiss can get rubbery after melting, another good reason to use it only sparingly and in a mixture of other cheeses.

Monterey Jack - This cheese is a good one for pizza, best used as a mixture of no more than 30% with other cheeses. Good quality Monterey Jack cheese has many small holes in it.

Muenster - A semi-soft cheese with a great flavor that can be used as an accent on pizza. Grates with difficulty. It can be sliced thinly and put on the pizza.

These are but a few of the alternatives to just plain old mozzarella cheese for pizza. Try other kinds, and see what combinations you can come up with that you like the best. When using other varieties of cheese, remember that as a rule of thumb it is best to blend them with mozzarella or provolone to see what they will taste like. Buon appetito!

My Zimbio