Pizza cheese

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Pizza cheese encompasses several varieties and types of cheeses and dairy products that are designed and manufactured for use specifically on pizza, including processed and modified cheese such as mozzarella-like processed cheeses and Mozzarella variants. Pizza cheese can also refer to any type of cheese suitable for use on pizza.[1] Estimates have placed 30% of all pizza cheese used in the United States is mozzarella cheese. The most popular cheeses used in the preparation of pizza are mozzarella, provolone, cheddar and Parmesan. Emmental, Romano and ricotta are often used as toppings, and processed pizza cheeses manufactured specifically for pizza are used often in mass production environments.

Processed pizza cheese is manufactured to produce preferable qualities in browning, melting, stretchiness and fat and moisture content. Many studies and experiments have analyzed the impact of vegetable oil, manufacturing and culture processes,[2] denatured whey proteins and other changes to create ideal and economical pizza cheeses. In 1997 it was estimated that annual production of pizza cheese was 2 billion pounds in the United States and 200 million pounds in Europe, and in 2000 demand for pizza cheese in Europe was increasing by 8% per year.

Varieties and types[edit]

A wrapped frozen pizza

The International Dictionary of Food and Cooking defines pizza cheese as "a soft spun-curd cheese similar to Mozzarella made from cow's milk..." that is "...used particularly for pizzas and contains somewhat less water than real Mozzarella..."[3] Most pizza cheeses are at least 95 percent Mozzarella,[4] with different moisture and fat densities.[1][5][6] Cheese for frozen pizzas may be comminuted, in which the cheese is processed into minute granules or fragments.[7] Many varieties such as low-moisture Mozzarella are formulated specifically for pizza.[8][9] Others are processed into blocks, from which the product can be grated, made into granules or sliced for use on pizza[10][11] and in the preparation of other foods. Pizza cheese frequently consists of a blend of two or more cheeses. Low-moisture Mozzarella and Provolone is the most common blend.[1]

Cheese type Notes
Mozzarella Globally, the most popular pizza cheese. However, it has been estimated that in the United States only 30% of all pizza cheese used is actual Mozzarella cheese.[12]
Provolone The second most popular and sometimes mixed with Mozzarella.[1]
Cheddar Usually mixed with Mozzarella to preserve chewiness.[1]
Parmesan Usually finely grated and added to the top of the pizza, because it doesn't melt well.[1]
Others Emmental, Romano and Ricotta for calzones or as a topping.
Processed A diverse variety of processed and analogue pizza cheeses are produced. Provel is one example.

Processed pizza cheeses[edit]

Provel pizza cheese in a five-pound block. This product is commonly used in the preparation of St. Louis-style pizza.
A Swedish processed pizza cheese mix prepared with milk and vegetable fat, with a total fat content of 26%

Pasteurized and processed pizza cheese dairy products that are designed to melt well and remain chewy are used on many mass-produced pizzas in North America, the United Kingdom[13] and elsewhere.[14] These types of cheeses are referred to as analogue pizza cheese[15][16][17] and analog pizza cheese.[18][19] It has been stated that analogue pizza cheese appears to be the leading type of cheese analogue produced globally.[5] Each year in the United States, 700 million frozen pizzas are sold, three-quarters of which contain cheese substitutes.[20]

Analogue pizza cheeses may be formulated for processing with less sophisticated cheese-making equipment than required by Mozzarella cheese, such as the processes of mixing and molding.[21] They tend to have a soft texture and once melted, may have a slightly "stringy" quality when pulled or bitten into. They may lack in a fusion, or melting together of the shredded product when cooked.[15] New stabilizer systems have been developed that have helped to enable the creation of analogue pizza cheeses.[22] An example of a processed pizza cheese is Provel pasteurized processed pizza cheese, which uses Cheddar, Swiss, and Provolone cheeses as flavorants.[23] Some analogue pizza cheese types are made with casein, a by-product of milk, and vegetable oil, rather than milk fat.[24] Rennet casein-based Mozzarella-like imitation processed cheeses exist that are used as a Mozzarella substitute on frozen pizzas.[15]

In some instances, the production of analogue pizza cheese can be very similar to the production of cream cheese, although the process of homogenization may be avoided, and additional differences in production are existent.[24] In the production of some varieties, the product is heated to remain at a specific temperature and for a specific amount of time, which causes the proteins in the mix to gelatinize.[24] During this process, salts in the mix serve to emulsify it and thus improve the meltability of the final product.[24] The heated product is then placed in packaging such as bags-in-boxes while still hot, as it is more easily handled in this state compared to when existing as a solid.[24] Upon being packaged, these types of pizza cheeses are then quick-cooled to avoid browning of the product vis-a-vis the Maillard reaction.[24]

Research and development[edit]

Manufacturers and academics have conducted studies and experiments in an effort to improve the stretchiness, melting characteristics, browning, fat content and water retention of pizza cheese. Several patents exist for specialized varieties of pizza cheese and for its processing. A study by Rudan and Barbano found that the addition of a thin layer of vegetable oil atop low- and reduced-fat pizza cheese increased meltability and reduced browning and dehydration when the product was cooked, but the texture remained overly chewy and tough.[5] A study by Perry (et al.) found various methods to heighten the melt of low-fat pizza cheese by increasing its moisture, including the use of pre-acidification, fat-replacers, and exopolysaccharide starter cultures as well as higher pasteurization temperatures.[5]

Manufacturers aim for a moisture content of 50-to-52 percent and a fat-in-dry-matter content of 35-to-40 percent.[25] A study published in the International Journal of Food & Science Technology found that a 12.5:87.5 blend of vetch-bovine milk improved stretchiness and melting characteristics.[26] An experiment published in the International Journal of Dairy Technology suggested that the level of galactose can be reduced using different culture techniques.[27] An article in the International Journal of Food Engineering found that trisodium citrate slightly improved the preferred qualities of pizza cheese.[28] Research published in Dairy Industries International suggested that denatured whey proteins increased moisture retention, but that the improvements were very slight and not economical.[25] Some consumers prefer pizza cheese with less browning, which can be achieved using low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella with a low galactose content.[29][nb 1] Some pizza cheeses derived from skim mozzarella variants were designed not to require aging or the use of starter.[6] Others can be made through the direct acidification of milk.[6]

Production and business[edit]

In the United States, several hundred million pounds of pizza cheese is consumed annually.[12] In 1997, it was estimated that annual production of pizza cheese was 1 million tons (2 billion pounds) in the United States and 100,000 tons (200 million pounds) in Europe.[30] It has been estimated that 30% of all pizza cheese used in the United States is Mozzarella cheese.[12] As of 2000, demand for pizza cheese was growing in Europe by 8 percent per year.[4] The world's largest manufacturer of pizza cheese, Leprino Foods Company, processes 600,000 tonnes (1.2 billion pounds) a year.[4] Leprino Foods holds patents for some specialized Mozzarella production processes that enable the quick manufacture of pizza cheese.[31] One such product is a frozen shredded cheese used for pizza that is created in a few hours from milk.[32]

Use by region[edit]

Provel cheese is commonly used in St. Louis-style pizza. Whole milk mozzarella is popular in pizzas in the East and Southwest regions of the US, while one survey showed that Provolone was more popular on the east and west coast. Cheddar is thought to be used more in the Eastern and Southern regions.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Galactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products and other foods that is less sweet than glucose. Sugar in foods can lead to caramelization when they are cooked, which increases their browning.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g John Correll. "Chapter 9 - Pizza Cheese". Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  2. ^ "DuPont Nutrition & Health Hurdles the Process Challenges for Pizza Cheese". April 3, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ Sinclair, Charles G. (1998). International Dictionary of Food and Cooking. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 417. ISBN 1579580572. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Firms unite to drive pizza cheese sales." (September 1, 2000). Dairy Industries International, 65(9), 7. (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b c d Law, Barry A; Tamime, A.Y. (editors) (2010). Technology of Cheesemaking. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. (unlisted). ISBN 9781444323757. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c McMahon; (et al.) (September 5, 2000). "Manufacture of Lower-fat and Fat-free Pizza Cheese". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ Kielsmeier; (et al.) (June 29, 1988). "Pizza Preparation from Comminuted Cheese". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ Aikenhead, Charles (June 1, 2003). "Permanently pizza: continuous production of pizza cheese is now a realistic proposition". Dairy Industries International. Retrieved September 30, 2012.  (subscription required)
  9. ^ Fox, Patrick F. (1999). "Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology (Major Cheese Groups)". Volume 2. Aspen Publishers, Inc. Retrieved September 27, 2012.  ISBN 0412535106
  10. ^ Kielsmeier, Lester O.; (et al.) (March 5, 1991). "Method of baking pizza from coated frozen cheese granules". United States Patent 4997670. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Machine for Shredding Cheese and for Depositing the Cheese Onto Pizzas". United States Patent 3662677. May 16, 1972. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c "Pizza's Global Footprint". 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2012-09-28. 
  13. ^ Gates, Stefan (July 18, 2012). "Fake cheese (text and video)". BBC. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ Hayes, David K.; Miller, Allisha (2011). Revenue Management for the Hospitality Industry. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 60. ISBN 9780470393086. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c Law, Barry A; Tamime, A.Y. (editors) (2010). Technology of Cheesemaking. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. (unlisted). ISBN 9781444323757. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  16. ^ Advanced Dairy Chemistry - P. F. Fox, P. L. H. McSweeney - Google Books
  17. ^ Fox, Patrick F.; (et al.) (2000). Fundamentals of Cheese Science. Aspen Pub. p. 462. ISBN 0834212609. 
  18. ^ "G.C. Hahn & Co.: Supplier Spotlight". Dairy Foods. January 1, 2006. Retrieved September 30, 2012.  (subscription required)
  19. ^ Gunstone, F.D.; (et al.) (2006). Modifying lipids for use in food. Woodhead. p. 476. ISBN 1855739712. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Star Tribune Archives". 1987-09-11. Retrieved 2012-09-28. About three-fourths of the 700 million frozen pizzas sold each year in the United States contain cheese substitutes. The most common is casein,...  (subscription required)
  21. ^ Gunasekaran, Sundaram; Mehmet Ak, M. (2003). Cheese Rheology and Texture. CRC Press. p. 288. ISBN 1587160218. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  22. ^ Kuhl, Rudiger (October 1, 2003). "Stabiliser systems—the key to a great pizza: when it comes to judging the taste and quality of pizza it depends on one critical ingredient—pizza cheese". International Food Ingredients. Retrieved October 16, 2012.  (subscription required)
  23. ^ Hulin, Belinda (2007). The Everything Pizza Cookbook: 300 Crowd-Pleasing Slices of Heaven. F+W Publications, Inc. p. 7. ISBN 1598692593. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f "Continuous Production of Analogue Cheese" (PDF). Danish Dairy & Food Industry Worldwide. 2007. pp. 12–13. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "Whey Proteins And Pizza Cheese." Dairy Industries International 66.9 (2001): 16. Small Business Reference Center. Web. 14 Oct. 2012.
  26. ^ Preparation and evaluation of pizza cheese made from blend of vetch–bovine milk, September 11, 2007, retrieved October 14, 2012 
  27. ^ (subscription required)
  28. ^ Reza Farahmandfar, Mazaheri Tehrani, Mostafa / Razavi, Seyed Mohammad Ali / Habibi Najafi, Mohammad Bagher, Effect of Soy Cheese and Trisodium Citrate on Pizza Cheese, International Journal of Food Engineering 
  29. ^ Baskaran, D.; Sivakumar, S. (November 2003). "Galactose concentration in pizza cheese prepared by three different culture techniques". Volume 56, Issue 4. International Journal of Dairy Technology. pp. 229–232. Retrieved September 28, 2012. 
  30. ^ Fox, Patrick F.; (et al.) (2000). Fundamentals of Cheese Science. Aspen Pub. p. 482. ISBN 0834212609. 
  31. ^ (Staff) (June 20, 2012). "Leprino Foods a big market for Morgan County dairies". Fort Morgan Times. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  32. ^ Wirthman, Lisa (March 30, 2012). "Denver's Leprino Foods has strong hold on cheese market". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 

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