Why Mozzarella Cheese — doesn’t melt well?

You can’t have a good pizza without mozzarella cheese. But did you know that there’s more than one type of mozzarella? And did you know that the melting properties of mozzarella vary depending on the type of cheese?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at mozzarella and how to melt it for your next pizza night.

Use the right types of mozzarella cheese

There are four main types of mozzarella cheese: low-moisture mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, Fior di latte, and buffalo mozzarella.

Low-moisture mozzarella is the most common type of mozzarella used in pizzas. It has a dry, crumbly texture and a slightly salty flavor. Fresh mozzarella is soft and has a higher moisture content than low-moisture mozzarella. It has a milder flavor and can be made from either cow’s milk or buffalo milk.

Fior di latte is also made from cow’s milk and has a similar texture to fresh mozzarella. Buffalo mozzarella is made from buffalo milk and has a sweet, buttery flavor.

Mozzarella and Melting Process

Cheese is composed of fat, protein, and water. When heat is applied to cheese, usually around 90-130 ºF, the calcium phosphates (which act as bridges to stabilize the protein structure) start to break apart, and then the protein networks begin to denature and the fat starts to melt. The water in the cheese evaporates, which concentrates the flavors.

Because different types of cheese have different ratios of fat, protein, and water, they will melt differently. Higher fat content is preferred for melting.

Low-moisture mozzarella has a lower water content than other types of mozzarella, so it does melt without making food soggy. When heated, low-moisture mozza will become soft and stringy. It’s important to use a higher temperature when melting low-moisture mozza.

Also, some of the mozzarella string cheese or packaged mozzarella shredded or processed mozzarella usually contain anti-caking agents such as cellulose or potato starch. It will interfere with the mozzarella’s melting ability by limiting moisture loss, leading to a gooey and quicker browning effect [2].

In contrast, fresh mozzarella has higher water content and will therefore not melt well. Because of that, there is a greater chance for separation (when the water in the cheese evaporates and separates from the melted fat). That’s why you will sometimes see the little sweat beads of liquid in the early melting phase.

You can read my previous article here where I explained whether the mozzarella pearls/balls will melt, and how to solve it. Pan? Oven? Microwave? Say you want to use the whole ball of mozzarella.

Will mozzarella melt in sauce or soup?

Mozzarella will not melt well in soup, that’s why you rarely see a mozzarella-based soup. It will easily form clumps in soup. If you are looking to add mozzarella cheese to your pasta sauce, it is best to use shredded or grated low-moisture mozzarella. But it will take longer to melt, so your sauce can get overcooked. Try switching to low heat. Also, it’s not going to melt completely into liquid consistency in your sauce.

Will mozzarella string cheese melt?

In the USA, string cheese is referred to a style of low-moisture mozzarella being pulled into cylindrical strips form. It may also blended with cheddar cheese. Therefore, mozzarella string cheese will always soften and melt (but not completely) just like your mozzarella cheese when heat is applied. You can use it to top your pizza or made into mozzarella cheese sticks.

Reference:

  1. Discover Magazine – The keys to cheese: does this cheese melt
  2. Semantic Scholar – Effects of Starch-Based Anti-Caking Agents on Browning of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
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