The Science Of The Humble Pizza

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Most have an idea what they want a pizza slice to look like.

Golden cheese with that dark toasted colour scattered in blistery patches across the surface with a bit of oil glistening in the valleys.

The cheese, or a combination of different cheeses, is the key to a good pizza, according to food scientists.

A study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, bench tested the pizza baking performance of different cheeses: mozzarella, cheddar, colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, and provolone.

The study found that the elasticity, free oil, moisture, water activity and transition temperature all influence the colour uniformity of cheeses.

Blisters were not formed for cheddar, colby, and Edam cheeses because of their small elasticity.

A sufficient amount of free oil prevents moisture evaporation and that means less intensive browning on Gruyere and provolone, and hardly at all with Emmental.

Therefore, these cheeses can be combined with the easily blistering mozzarella to create a gourmet pizza with a less burnt appearance.

The researchers developed a machine vision technique coupling careful imaging with quantified image analysis to help quantify a description which can be used by pizza manufacturers to make an appealing product for consumers.

Watch study author, Bryony James of the University of Auckland explain the research here.

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