Most consumers have an idea of their favorite pizza and it may have nothing at all to do with taste. The imagery on television commercials is gooey cheese stretching from the pie to the slice.

Marketers have always known that cheese matters and now science is backing that up. Writing 
in the Journal of Food Science, scholars went beyond the standard trope of having golden cheese with that dark toasted-cheese color scattered in distinct blistery patches across the surface and a bit of oil glistening in the valleys and honed in on the various aspects that impact the total pizza experience.

A new study in the Journal of Food Science evaluated the pizza baking performance of different cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, colby, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, and provolone) in conjunction with a new quantifiable evaluation technique to see how their composition and functional differences affected browning and blistering. That's right, none of that human sensory assessment business. Instead, they developed a machine vision technique coupling careful imaging with quantified image analysis to help quantify a description that can be used by pizza manufacturers to make an appealing product for consumers. 

Photo: Shutterstock

The study found that the elasticity, free oil, moisture, water activity and transition temperature all influence the color 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 thus 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.

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