I love cheese. It completes me.
A couple weeks ago a lovely blog reader had some questions about what kind of cheese I use on my homemade pizzas. I answered the questions but then realized that there might be more of you with the same cheese concerns (serious issue, I assure you) so I decided to do a cheese comparison for you.
The test subjects. Pre-shredded, block (that I grated) and fresh mozzarella cheeses.
Since we were having tomato soup for dinner, I decided to do our cheese test on baguette slices. On the top we have the pre-shredded mozzarella, then the fresh mozzarella, and finally the block mozzarella.
I popped these guys in the oven for about ten minutes.
Here they are. You can already see some big differences in texture. Especially between the pre-shredded and fresh mozzarella.
But let's look a little closer:
Here's the pre-shredded undergoing a gooey test. As you can see, this cheese didn't melt evenly - it's almost lumpy in spots.
This is due largely to the fact that pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it to prevent it from sticking and clumping together while it sits on store shelves waiting for you to come buy it. The coating also has gives the cheese a ever so slightly floury after-taste.
Edit (thanks to my brother for reminding me of this): This coating also affects cheese sauces - it causes the sauce to become somewhat gritty. So if you've ever wondered why your mac n' cheese doesn't turn out smooth and creamy, pre-shredded cheese is likely the culprit. In fact, when my husband and I were first married I made mac n' cheese one night using the pre-shredded stuff.
He may have spit it out.
We may have ordered pizza.
Test subject #2: block mozzarella. This cheese, as you can see, melted much more evenly. Not super gooey but definitely a step up from the pre-shredded variety.
The block cheese is what I normally use when I'm buying cheddar, monterey jack, or colby cheeses.
This is the fresh mozzarella. See how evenly and lovely it melted? It's like a ribbon of cheese. Smooth, creamy and gooey. And the flavor of this cheese is insane.
So! I'm convinced that pre-shredded cheese is evil. Don't use it. The slightly floury aftertaste and its difficulty melting evenly isn't anywhere near a fair trade off for saving yourself the 60 seconds it would take to grate your own cheese. If I'm using mozzarella, 9 times out of 10 I'll buy the fresh variety. Especially if it's going on pizza. It is a bit more expensive but the other cheeses pale in comparison on both flavor and texture.