Fresh mozzarella is known for having a lot of water content; I mean, it comes soaked in water to stay fresh. So, it is crucial to dry mozzarella cheese before you top it on pizza.
If not, then wet Mozzarella can create small water pools on top of pizza once it is done cooking and trust me that is not a good sight.
Drying the mozzarella helps you get the best flavors from the cheese and the perfect melted cheese texture that you see on a classic Neapolitan Pizza.
Store-bought shredded mozzarella cheese is pretty much dehydrated, also known as low-moisture mozzarella cheese.
I always use fresh mozzarella on my pizzas as it is the best cheese for pizza. I like the creamy taste of fresh mozzarella and it tastes so good with the pizza sauce.
I sometimes make mozzarella cheese at home since and you can try it too. Making fresh mozzarella cheese does not take a lot of time and it is easy and convinent.
Low-moisture mozzarella cheese is also a good option if you have no other way to get your hands on fresh mozzarella cheese.
So, how do you dry mozzarella cheese?
What Is Fresh Mozzarella Cheese?
Fresh Mozzarella cheese is soft, white in colour and it is usually made from water buffalo’s milk.
Whole milk from water buffalo was used to make mozzarella cheese but things have changed with time.
Nowadays, some people make mozzarella cheese from cow’s milk, skim milk and various other types of milk but the traditional way of making it using whole milk is still the best.
Fresh Mozzarella cheese has a nice creamy taste and you will not get this flavour in dry mozzarella or the shredded mozzarella available in stores.
Fresh Mozzarella is stored in a liquid so that it stays fresh for longer. It is best consumed on the same day that it is made and cannot last longer than 4-5 days in refrigerator.
Why Mozzarella Is Wet And how it affects the Pizza?
The main way of preserving the flavor and soft texture of fresh mozzarella cheese is to submerge it in liquid. Usually, the liquid is just water or brine and can sometimes be whey.
Since it is submerged in water almost all of the time during its making process, the cheese will absorb the liquid around it, giving mozzarella cheese its wet consistency.
This high-moisture cheese contains 50% water once it is made. Even after it has been processed and stored, mozzarella cheese is submerged in the said liquids to stay fresh.
This high water content can cause issues while you cook pizzas in a home oven. It can create puddles of water on top of the pizza making your pizza wet.
What happens when you use watery mozzarella cheese on pizza?
The moisture in Mozzarella cheese can affect your pizza and results are not appetizing. As suggested above the mozzarella releases water when cooked making the pizza soggy.
If you do not dry the mozzarella, the pizza becomes wet and it ruins the crust’s crispiness.
You may not have this issue with wet mozzarella inside a very hot pizza oven like Ooni where the internal temperature is around 800F.
This happens because 800F is a really high temperature and it evaporates the water content from the mozzarella cheese but any other oven with any temperature less that this and you have a problem.
This calls in need to understand how to dry mozzarella cheese for pizza. You have to use low-moisture mozzarella cheese in pizza, especially if you are cooking it in a home oven.
Should you dry mozzarella before putting it on pizza?
Yes, if you do not want to end up with a watery pizza or a soggy crust.
It is very easy, and once you understand the process, it will soon become second nature to do this before you put cheese on top of your pizza.
It barely takes 5 minutes so make sure to do this every time you use fresh mozzarella.
How To Dry Mozzarella Cheese For Pizza?
If you want to dry mozzarella cheese for pizza then you need to get the liquid out of the mozzarella cheese.
Drain And Dry: these are the two main steps to dry mozzarella cheese for pizza. These two easy steps can be done in just a few minutes, so I strongly recommend doing them.
1. Draining The Mozzarella
Since mozzarella cheese is stored or packaged in liquids like water, brine, or whey, you must first drain those liquids.
Open the package and then remove the ball of cheese from the water.
Tip- One important technique I use when draining the mozzarella cheese is separating the cheese into several smaller pieces. This is a very effective way to drain the water in it.
Since you soak the mozzarella cheese for quite some time, there are holes inside the cheese that might have gathered some of the liquid, and you cannot remove the water inside if you drain the cheese whole.
Ripping the mozzarella cheese into small pieces allows you to access the holes inside the cheese to drain the water absorbed by the holes inside.
This also allows you to separate the mozzarella cheese into portions and use only what you need for the pizza.
Put the mozzarella cheese in a fine-mesh strainer and allow it to drain.
I usually leave the mozzarella cheese to drain for 6 hours, but it is also good to leave it for a day. Make sure you cover it with a clean cloth or put it in the fridge not to dry out.
You want to drain the excess water from the cheese, but you do not want it to dry out and form a crust on the outside.
2. Dry The Mozarella
I have a dedicated towel or cloth for this process, but you can use paper towels instead of a clean cloth. The next step is to drain the excess moisture from the mozzarella cheese truly.
The first step was to allow the excess water to drip from the mozzarella cheese. This next step is to wipe off the rest of the moisture from the mozzarella cheese.
So what I do is I place the slices of mozzarella cheese on one side of the cloth, and then I fold the cloth over the mozzarella cheese. From there, I allow the cloth to do absorb excess water.
If you are using paper towels, put the slices of mozzarella cheese on one paper towel and then put another paper towel on top of the cheese and allow it to absorb the moisture.
This process usually takes 15-20 minutes to make the mozzarella cheese dry. Doing this for longer than 20 minutes can make the cheese too dry.
You want dry mozzarella cheese in this case and not low-moisture mozzarella for pizza which is almost dehydrated.
Use Dry Mozzarella Cheese on Pizza
Once you have dried the mozzarella cheese properly, you can then use it on your pizzas. Either you let them stay like how you ripped them off, or slice them to get a more uniform size.
Make sure to distribute the mozzarella cheese evenly on the pizza. Mozzarella cheese is best paired with simple toppings like basil but you can always add your favorite toppings!
When to put fresh mozzarella on pizza?
If you are cooking inside a home oven it can take a long time to cook. So, I recommend cooking the pizza without fresh mozzarella on it and topping the pizza with mozzarella just 3-4 minutes before the pizza is done.
This way you do not burn the fresh mozzarella cheese which is quite easy to burn. Dehydrated cheese that you get in super markets can sit longer in the oven without getting burnt.
However, fresh mozzarella can burn easily hence put it towards the end of cooking pizza in the oven.
If you are cooking inside Ooni or a wood fired pizza oven that cooks pizza in not more than 3-4 minutes then you can top the pizza with cheese before it goes inside the oven.
Shredded or Sliced mozzarella for pizza
If you are confused about how to use mozzarella cheese on pizza – shredded or sliced, then know that it is best to use fresh mozzarella cheese either sliced or just tearing mozzarella cheese into pieces.
You can shred dry mozzarella cheese that you get from the store which is almost dehydrated but shredding fresh mozzarella cheese is not really needed.
You can shred fresh mozzarella cheese once you dry the mozzarella cheese but before that, it would be even a little challenging to shred it with all that moisture.
If you want to use low-moisture mozzarella for pizza, these are best shredded. The low- moisture mozzarella for pizza is an excellent option if you cannot get your hands on fresh mozzarella cheese.
It is easier to store low-moisture mozzarella, and it is going to last longer as compared to fresh mozzarella cheese.
When it comes to the taste of the pizza, I like both fresh and the low-moisture mozzarella for pizza. You can try both of them and see which one is your favorite.
But if you are using low-moisture mozzarella for pizza then make sure you use them shredded so that you get the best results.
Do let me know if this post on how to dry mozzarella cheese for pizza was helpful!
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